It is generally believed that Pakistan convergence from the United States towardsChina-the time-tested and all-weather friend- would not only benefit Pakistan but also improve its faltering economy. Any antagonistic remarks by the U.S. or India about an ironclad camaraderie are viewed as their efforts to disrupt the relationship which is “taller than the mountains and deeper than the oceans”.
Trade and energy corridor plan of General Pervez Musharraf era was officially launched as China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015.The $62 billion project is being considered an economic penance and a practical vehicle that would eliminate all disparities and grievances of Balochistan’s people. China needs to secure its sea lanes for economic prosperity and its preponderance on the South China Sea has become a bone of contention between its neighboring countries; it had to develop an alternative route to avoid the bottlenecked Strait of Malacca. Thus, to secure its sea trade, China needs Pakistan to materialize CPEC which gives an access to the Arabian Sea via Gwadar. Would Pakistan actually be benefited from an invincible rapport of the great power pertinent to CPEC?
Gwadar city of Balochistan is the hub of CPEC. Mineral rich province is the least developed due to the policies by the extractive institutions and the failure of the civilian leadership to address the grievances of its compatriots. Due to this there is resentment among the Baloch leaders and people regarding the distributions of province’s resources. According to the government officials, CPEC would create jobs for the local population, would attract foreign investors and its resources would not be exploited by others. It is an indubitable fact that the Baloch are the victim of the state inequalities. Hopes are being created by the government for the better future of Balochistan whereas the Bolach leaders are censuring the government for not taking into confidence regarding the projects carrying out under the canopy of CPEC.
China’s rivalry with any country doesn’t affect its economic ties; its economic policy is based on peaceful collaboration, coexistence, cooperation and win-win partnership for everyone. In 2017-2018 fiscal year, China- Pakistan trade volume was $13.2 billion, whereas India-China trade was more than $84billion despite the fact that they have also disputes over territories. According to World Bank report, Pak- India trade is about $2 billion which could reach $37 billion. If both these two countries could approach like China vis-à-vis trade, it would help to alleviate poverty and bring economic prosperity. Pakistan’s policy about its relations with India is still dither.
Last year, when Pakistan was placed on ‘grey list’ by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), China didn’t vote in support of Pakistan alongside Turkey; although China’s support couldn’t prevent it from placing on ‘grey list’ when Saudi Arabia had already decided to give up its support to Pakistan. In China, Turkish-origin Muslims, Uighurs who are living in Xinjiang, are being persecuted and detained in secret “re-education camps”. Almost one million people, in eleven millions of Uighur’s population, have been detained, according to the United Nations report. With a ban on naming Muslim’s name, restriction to have beards and strict surveillance of Uighurs, China’s communist party is quelling the religious freedom of minority population. Xinjiang had a vital role in CPEC; Pakistan didn’t raise this issue with China at any level. Does Pakistan not have to adopt a bilateral approach especially with China? Is Pakistan silence on this issue because it is also doing same with its non-Muslims inhabitants?
Relations between countries, even a developed country or underdeveloped country, are entirely based on mutual interests. China’s support on international fronts comes to Pakistan when it also suits to its benefits, but it would lend its moral support on each and every occasion. Alongside the strategic partnership and pro-China stance, Pakistan needs to scrupulously examine the benefits and drawbacks of too much reliance on China and ‘secret’ terms and conditions of CPEC.