Rising discontent in Pakistan against CPEC, reports International Crisis Group

New Delhi: Pakistan, which is rapidly moving towards bankruptcy, is looking at the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), with great hope. But there is a rising discontent about this ambitious Chinese project in Pakistan worth $62 billion, claimed the International Crisis Group (ICG). This huge Chinese investment can fuel a fresh conflict in Pakistan, said the ICG in its report.

Transport, electrical, Industrial and agricultural projects are coming up in Pakistan under the CPEC. Under this project, Kashgar in China will be connected to the Gwadar port in Pakistan through various transport corridors. The Pakistani government has been claiming that this project will bring new industries to Pakistan, will create millions of jobs and will change the state of Pakistan’s economy. But it becomes clear from the ICG report that now the Pakistani people seem to be getting a realistic picture of the project.

The project lacks transparency and is becoming a cause of conflict between the Centre and the provincial governments as well as the autonomous organisations. Distribution of resources and issues of inequality in economic development are the reasons for this conflict. The political tension is feared to worsen because of the project. The social rift is increasing in the Pakistani society and this can lead to an internal conflict in Pakistan.

The security around the Gwadar port and the other CPEC projects has been increased. Although this security could be for protecting the Chinese investment, the military interference in civilian life has increased near these project sites, highlights the ICG report.

Unemployment is increasing in Pakistan and the government has failed in creating employment. The CPEC project does not have employment opportunities for locals. This is one more reason for the rising discontent about CPEC, said ICG.

ICG has claimed that in case China and Pakistan are unable to address the problems and issues connected with the CPEC, a major crisis may be seen striking Pakistan.

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves are nearing zero. China has helped Pakistan, which was on the brink of bankruptcy with another loan of USD 1 billion. In the meantime, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) included Pakistan in the Grey List. This makes the economic situation of Pakistan graver.

If due action is not initiated by Pakistan against the financing of terrorists before the next FATF meeting in January, it will be included in the Black List of FATF. This could mean that sanctions like North Korea and Iran could be imposed against Pakistan. In view of this, the ICG report published before the Pakistani elections gains important.

Pakistani analysts are claiming that the government is misleading the people regarding this Chinese investment and this is not an investment, but a huge loan borrowed from China. Thus, the sovereignty of Pakistan has been mortgaged with China, and Pakistan has in fact become a Chinese colony.