By Saima Afzal
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) conceived on the notion of mutual development is a game-changer not only for Pakistan but also for the entire South Asian region. Under the auspices of this project, Gwadar port would become a hub of economic connectivity with the Middle East and North Africa. CPEC could simultaneously address Pakistan’s energy-starved economy and bolster Pakistan’s relations with neighboring Afghanistan and Iran, which has expressed interest in being a part of CPEC, through cross-border energy cooperation.
When China put forward the idea of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Pakistan was the key state to appreciate it. However, since the inception of CPEC construction, rumors were ripe against the initiative some scholars particularly Indian scholars and their mainstream media pointed out that South Asian countries like Pakistan would be under a debt trap, which will lead to a sharp rise in foreign debts of these states. Although Pakistan and China have made great achievements since the launch of CPEC in 2013, still it is facing challenges from some hostile elements who are constantly trying to disrupt the project through propaganda campaigns against the state by creating a rift between federal and provincial.
India being a hostile state to Pakistan has perpetually been involved in false propaganda against CPEC. On 12 May Indian newspapers carried propaganda news – protests in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) over secret land deals with China. It is public knowledge that India along with other international players has been involved in efforts to sabotage CPEC, RAW has dedicated millions of dollars to destabilize Balochistan and sponsor terrorist activities like killings of Chinese experts/ engineers to strike a direct blow to Pak-China economic relations. It is not the first time India has been involved in subversive activities against Pakistan, in past India has openly opposed the CPEC project because India perceives this as a challenge to its sovereignty. The CPEC passes through the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan, which India claims to be a part of the disputed region of Kashmir. India, therefore, has a motive to see the removal of the CPEC.
In addition, in March 2016, Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy, was captured in Mashkel, Balochistan. When Pakistan Security forces detained him, he confessed in a video statement that he is an officer of the Indian Navy on a top-secret mission in Balochistan. Besides this, he confessed to helping Baloch insurgents to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Pakistani security forces interrogated him and it was also claimed that his mission was to sabotage the CPEC by using Baloch insurgents. There have also been multiple reports of individuals in the BLA being supported by India.
Indian involvement in Baluchistan unrest cannot be ignored because it is due to the changing geopolitical environment of the region. India, which is dreaming to become a hegemonic power in the region and dominating the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean, is upset due to the growing influence of China in Pakistan through CPEC and Gwadar port. A fully-developed and functional Gwader port near the Strait of Hormuz enables China to frustrate India’s dream of dominating regional waterways. New Delhi feels that the CPEC would have serious strategic implications for India. It perceives that Gwadar port would empower Pakistan to control strategically important energy sea lanes on the Persian Gulf and CPEC would connect Pakistan through road lanes with the region. India views Chinese engagement in Pakistan with suspicion and thinks that China wants to set up bases and outposts across the globe to monitor and safeguard energy flows.
Paradoxically, it would just remain India’s dream to disrupt the CPEC and create a rift between Pakistani authorities and the masses because the people of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) are fully aware of the fact that they are the prime beneficiary of the CPEC and the projects will bring an uplift in the development of the complete region. GB has massive potential for international and national tourism. At present, the mainstay of the GB economy is tourism and CPEC will open a great number of avenues for the prosperity of the region and people.
Indian at present is engulfed in state-sponsored ethnic divide, the minorities are being brutally killed, and lynched by cow vigilante groups of RSS, the recent WHO report revealing the Indian government’s deliberate/ planned efforts to hide the data of Covid causalities has once again shown the true face of shinning India. Indian federation is facing serious threats from inside and is destined to implode within. The world is aware that Indian statecraft is based on falsehood and propaganda to conceal its internal problems. India should refrain from indulging in the internal matters of Pakistan and should stop spreading the rumors.
* The author is an Islamabad analyst and holds MPhil in Peace and Conflict Studies. She can be reached at [email protected]