Islamabad: Sardar Masood Khan,President Azad Jammu and Kashmir has said that India’s objections to CPEC are fake and disingenuous. ”Having occupied the territory of one part of Jammu and Kashmir, now it stakes claim of “sovereignty” to Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, under what law?” he questioned. He said the territory does not belong to India. He asked ; Is India worried because it has moved its 700,000 troops to the Indian Occupied Kashmir to maintain its illegal occupation in Jammu and Kashmir? Or is it concerned that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Pakistan will become prosperous? Or does its anxiety stem from the fear that Kashmir will be internationalized? I would ask: more internationalized than it already is?
President Azad jammu and Kashmir was addressing to one day international seminar on ” Belt and Road Initiative: CPEC and regional integration ” organized by The Institute of International and Cultural Affairs .
Sardar Masood Khan said; There is no easy way to assuage India’s concerns.” India is not a stakeholder in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir; it never was, it is known in the region as an occupier and denier of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, he added.
”The Belt and Road Initiative is an undertaking with no precedent, its scale is massive, the BRI is the most ambitious global development plan in history,” he said .
He told that the Belt comprises a series of land corridors linking China with Europe through Central Asia and the Middle East, The ‘road’ is a maritime route linking China’s ports to Africa, and though the Mediterranean to Europe.
”OBOR will increase China’s political and economic power, Simultaneously, it would enhance economic power of its neighboring countries by preparing them for absorption of new technologies, as well as tapping and unleashing the full potential of their markets,” he said.
”This is also China’s way of sharing its abundant capacities in industry with developed and developing countries.” the President remarked.
He said , I have no doubt that in the long run this initiative will also have a geopolitical impact.” According to a recent forecast China’s economy will grow to $58 trillion by 2050,” he added.
The President said that economic collaboration at this scale will have dividends for peace and security. The BRI, as it unfolds, will increase China’s clout and influence globally; but, in the process, it would also empower people of the entire globe. It would be a global win-win. Let us also not forget that China already is influential but it has politely declined to be called G-2.
The phenomenal BRI would not lead to a new era of imperialism, because China abhors imperialism; it has never practiced it; and it never will.
OBOR spurs development across several continents. It builds roads, railroads, bridges, tunnels, ports, airports, energy plants, pipelines, industrial zones, and tourism corridors – all aimed at connecting communities and nations of three continents – Asia, Africa and Europe.
This is a Chinese way to create shared platforms of prosperity for nations. Foreign Minister Wang Yi has called it a “symphony”. The keywords in this initiative are infrastructure and connectivity that would bind states and peoples in close relationships for pursuing economic growth. The cumulative investment of this initiative is projected to be nearly $ 1 trillion, and China is making down payment for this ambitious mega-project.
The Belt-Road Initiative is a counterpoise to protectionism; it represents a new wave of globalization, which would be irreversible, a wave that would empower the poor of the world, develop less developed regions and bring them into the national and international mainstream. Eclipsing post-World War II Marshall Plan, it creates opportunities for 65 countries, which is about 65 % of the world population and half of its GDP. It is also supported by new multilateral financial institutions, which buttress the existing international development banks.
Many western nations are supporting OBOR. The US also sent a representative to the recent the Belt and Road Forum; and American firms see profit in the boom in the construction, engineering and finance sectors associated with OBOR.
Where does the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor fit into this grand scheme?
The $62 billion CPEC is considered to be the flagship of OBOR. Under this project, Pakistan is building Gwadar Port, a network of motorways, railways, energy plants, solar parks and wind farms. All these projects are on the drawing board; they are being implemented with speed and precision. Moreover, early harvest projects would soon deliver dividends.
All this intense activity is catalysing an economic revolution in Pakistan.
The CPEC is not just a corridor between China and Pakistan; it connects East Asia with Central, South, West and Southwest Asia; and extends to Africa. It is thus a cross-regional launching pad for economic integration.
Moreover, CPEC is a docking port, borrowing a term from space technology, between the Belt and the Road that joins the land corridors and sea routes passing through the Indian Ocean.
India’s objections to CPEC are fake and disingenuous. Having occupied the territory of one part of Jammu and Kashmir, now it stakes claim of “sovereignty” to Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. Under what law? The territory does not belong to India. Is India worried because it has moved its 700,000 troops to the Indian Occupied Kashmir to maintain its illegal occupation in Jammu and Kashmir? Or is it concerned that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and Pakistan and will become prosperous? Or does its anxiety stem from the fear that Kashmir will be internationalised? I would ask: more internationalised than it already is?
There is no easy way to assuage India’s concerns. India is not a stakeholder in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir; it never was. It is known in the region as an occupier and denier of the right to self-determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The CPEC is a corridor, not a cul de sac, not a blind alley. It is a crossroads that joins peoples and regions. It has no boundaries; and therefore its doors have been kept open to all. And Gwadar is not part of the so-called String of Pearls; it transcends that kind of narrow geo-strategic straitjacket. It is now part of a bigger Belt and Road Initiative, which opens up the blocked or unused arteries of the economic geography connecting Asia, Africa and Europe.
A corridor’s success depends on increased cross-border connectivity and engagement among investors and business communities. Pakistan is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Economic Cooperation Organization; and it is cultivating its relations with Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC).
Stability in Afghanistan will remain a challenge despite all well-meaning efforts. Too many actors working at cross purposes are involved. Afghanistan can be an important plank for CPEC but until the situation improves there, navigation around it is advisable.
The corridor needs new markets. We applaud the efforts of the Government of Pakistan to reach out to Africa, the Gulf, broader Middle East region, and Central Asia. Peaceful neighbourhood will make the environment fertile for the success of CPEC. Taking advantage of its central location, Pakistan should also explore a corridor to West Asia through Iran, Turkey; and another corridor to Africa. It is high time Pakistan also developed its maritime economy.
Pakistan is rightly fighting the twin menaces of terrorism and violent extremism that imperil its security and undermine its economic development. Pakistan alone cannot fight these threats that have transnational character. And that’s why Pakistan needs alliances. But alliances should not embroil it in rivalries that would spawn new enemies and hostilities. It needs common platforms, not new flash points.
To guarantee long-term success of CPEC, Pakistan should continue to invest in building its deterrent and build security sinews.
Pakistan and China together fight off a deliberate malicious campaign to unhinge CPEC. Masquerading as well-wishers or concerned citizens, many are distorting facts and building negative perceptions about CPEC by spreading rumours. The gullible and untutored would be vulnerable to such propaganda. As CPEC forges ahead, such disinformation campaigns would intensify. A comprehensive and sophisticated strategy is required to counter such information offensive and project the CPEC in its correct perspective.
We are glad to see that national political consensus around CPEC has emerged. Growing cohesion is visible. Citizens and government alike see themselves as owners and stakeholders of the corridor; and they are.
For leveraging CPEC for regional integration, we will have to use the combined strength and ingenuity of China and Pakistan. Pakistan, in particular, will need to develop its educational and corporate muscles first to complete the CPEC projects and then to operate them. In the same context, Pakistan has to work on corporate compatibility with China, and competitiveness of its products and practices vis a viz other global actors.
Azad Jammu and Kashmir has become part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Four projects are now formally part of CPEC. The 720 MW Karot Hydropower Project and the 1124 MW Kohala Hydropower Project are being already implemented. The Mansehra-Muzaffarabad-Mirpur Expressway and an Industrial Zone in Mirpur – will anchor AJK firmly with CPEC. Two more projects – hydropower plants at Mahal and Azad Pattan – have been proposed. The Kashmiri leaders of the Indian Occupied Kashmir have expressed their aspiration that IOK should become part of CPEC; but India would never let them do it. The aspiration is legitimate because the entire territory of Jammu and Kashmir is a natural part of Pakistan.