India’s Calculus On CPEC – OpEd


The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a flagship project of the One Belt and One Road (OBOR) initiative. It holds the potential to significantly boost Pakistan’s economic growth and development through infrastructure development, trade facilitation, energy projects, industrial cooperation, job creation, regional connectivity, and the development of Gwadar Port.

New Delhi has openly resisted CPEC given the apprehension that Pakistan may possibly use its improved financial assets to augment its military strength and China may employ Gwadar Port as its maritime base supporting its blue-water fleet and accessibility in the Indian Ocean Region along with its proximity to the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which could hinder India’s global power ambitions. To India, CPEC is a strategic partnership that is breaching its territorial integrity in Gilgit-Baltistan, an Azad Jammu and Kashmir region, given India’s claim of the entire Kashmir as its integral part.

Tilak Devasher, an Indian ex-bureaucrat with expertise in security matters, authored “Pakistan-The Balochistan Conundrum” post-retirement, motivated by the plight of Balochistan’s people. The book gives insights into the Indian angle of CPEC by targeting its linchpin which is Balochistan. Released in 2019, coinciding with global attention on the region after the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, the book delves into Balochistan’s historical, ethnic, and militant complexities, portraying it as a puzzle misunderstood by Pakistan’s leadership. It meticulously examines various facets of the Balochistan issue, framing it as a pressing concern akin to the past East Pakistan situation, from an Indian perspective.

Tilak views Pakistan as a military-led state who wants to tackle the Balochistan conundrum militarily ignoring the fact that insurgency is a political issue rather than an issue of law and order. It resembles the situation when a patient is treated by a butcher rather than a surgeon, the former knows one trick and sees things as black and white but the latter understands the complexities of a problem and deals sensitively. The insurgency in Balochistan is locally supported that can never be defeated by Pakistan’s military which can only sustain its control over the troubled province through hard power. In short, he concludes that Pakistan itself is responsible for the Baloch insurgency as the foreign powers and a meager amount of feudal cannot control the entire province.

Contrary to his views, India’s frantic activity against CPEC began in 2015 when RAW allocated over $500 million to a dedicated cell designed to disrupt CPEC projects, as revealed by General Zubair Mahmood Hayat. The very next year a serving Indian naval officer, Kulbhushan Yadav, was captured from the Saravan border area of Balochistan with Iran and confessed, “My purpose was to hold meetings with the Baloch insurgents and carry out terrorist activities with their collaboration.” In November of that year, another eight Indian embassy officials were found engaged in “espionage, subversion and supporting of terrorist activities” along with maintaining contacts with Tehreak-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Amidst India’s on-ground efforts to destabilize Pakistan, it also disseminated false information for a negative perception building against CPEC using virtual media. European DisinfoLab found Indian-employed clone global supranational organizations associated with UN human rights, pseudo local media outlets, and emulated global think tanks in 2020 generating negative discourse against Pakistan. 

The month of March metamorphosed into another haunting chapter of terror, as the region became ensnared in a series of alarming incidents. Heavy clouds stayed in the Northwestern and Southwestern regions of Pakistan from March 16 to 26 with 3 suicide bombings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 2 in Balochistan claiming eighteen lives. The main targets of these attacks were Chinese nationals and infrastructural projects by CPEC while the main suspects were Baloch separatist and Islamist groups.

BLA claimed the responsibility for March 20th (Gwadar Port Authority Complex Housing CPEC Project Offices) and 25th (Turbat Naval Base, Balochistan) attack while TTP and ISKP are the suspects for the March 26th (Shangla, KP) attack. Little do they know that they are just a part of the larger plan that is to hurt the economy of Pakistan. This is a test for the newly formed government of Pakistan where the US, out of its own rivalry with China, is continuously threatening Pakistan with a debt trap while India is sponsoring the twin insurgencies in the region out of its fear of a shift in the balance of power completely in favor of China. DisinfoLab disclosed Indian involvement in deploying Baloch separatist groups as a proxy for aggravating militant activities against Balochistan and CPEC. Indian involvement in state-sponsored terrorism in Pakistan indicates that it’s working on Kautilya’s theory of maximizing power where the vitality of moral principles minimizes among interstate relations. 

The Indian lens as depicted by Devasher is a one-sided narration about the Balochistan issue where not even a single sign of hope was seen only to satisfy the thirst of anti-Pakistan elements. One might fear saying that the book was entirely fabricated but it was based on selected knowledge to feed hate for the Pakistan army, eliminating all positive aspects and developments that are happening in Balochistan under CPEC. The writer tactfully absolved the propaganda of external factors aggravating the insurgencies and concentrated on a vendetta against the Pakistani government. Indian narrative, like this book, is full of uninformed accusations portraying Balochistan as being enmeshed with Sectarians, Taliban, and Nationalists without any evidence-based statistics to reinforce the writer’s arguments.

Arooj Saghir

Arooj Saghir is an International Relations graduate from National Defence University, and a Media Strategy Specialist at Sunbeams School System, Islamabad.

One thought on “India’s Calculus On CPEC – OpEd

  • April 20, 2024 at 5:34 am

    India is not interested to destabilize Pakistan but have a friendly neighbour; “A distant dream as Pak Army to exist and have a hold over the proxy run governments will never let the dream come true!” Yes, India has openly resisted CPEC given the apprehension the author has explained the analytical reasons and of course CPEC is breaching India ‘s territorial integrity in Gilgit-Baltistan of POK. Kashmir is integral part of India-Bharat since centuries and shall remain so. Pakistan was only carved out of India in 1947 by Jinnah in nexus with the Britishers.


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