By APP Tuesday Mar 30, 2021
Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Zhao Lijian during his regular briefing held at the International Press Center.
- Zhao Lijian says China supports Pakistan in pursuing peaceful diplomatic policies and the peace and reconciliation process of Afghanistan.
- China expresses warm congratulations on 82nd Pakistan Day.
- Pakistan and China are celebrating seven decades of friendship and establishment of diplomatic relations this year.
BEIJING: Expressing happiness over the warming ties between Pakistan and India, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday that Beijing supported Islamabad in pursuing peaceful diplomatic policies and it would work with Pakistan to inject more positive energy into regional peace and stability as well as development.
“We are happy about the active interactions between Pakistan and India,” Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said during his regular briefing held at the International Press Center.
“China expresses warm congratulations on the 82nd Pakistan Day. We believe that the Pakistani Government and people will make further progress on national building and revitalization,” he added.
While taking note of the positive remarks delivered by President Dr Arif Alvi about China on the Pakistan Day parade last week, he said, “We highly appreciate that. China also values the All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries.”
In the speech, President Alvi had said, “China is our closest and friendliest country.”
“President Alvi also noted in his speech that Pakistan would focus on development and peaceful coexistence with other countries and he urged the world especially South Asian countries and their leaders to abandoned hatred, bias and religious extremism to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,” he added.
The spokesperson remarked that seeking peace and development is the common aspiration of countries in the region.
On Pakistan’s peaceful diplomatic policies and its efforts to help secure peaceful solution of Afghan issue, he said, “China supports Pakistan in pursuing peaceful diplomatic policies and we support the peace and reconciliation process of Afghanistan.”
“I would like to take the opportunity of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties to work with Pakistan to fight coronavirus and carry forward our traditional friendship to expand our all-dimensional cooperation and build a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in a new era,” he added.
Pakistan and China are celebrating the seven decades of friendship and establishment of diplomatic relations this year and launched a series of more than 100 activities in both the countries.
Source: Geo TV “China ‘happy’ over active interactions between Pakistan and India”
Note: This is Geo TV’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
India’s Narendra Modi writes to Imran Khan on Pakistan Day as rare peace overtures continue between the two rival nations.
24 Mar 2021
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent a letter to his Pakistani counterpart, saying he desires cordial relations with Pakistan, officials said, as relations thaw between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
Modi wrote to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday to congratulate him on the country’s annual Pakistan Day, which commemorates a resolution passed on March 23, 1940 when the subcontinent was under British colonial rule.
On that day, the subcontinent’s Muslim political leadership in the eastern city of Lahore demanded Muslim-majority states be given an “independent state” status.
Two senior officials at Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed the contents of the letter to The Associated Press news agency. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.
“As a neighbouring country, India desires cordial relations with the people of Pakistan,” Modi wrote in the letter, but added: “For this, an environment of trust, devoid of terror and hostility, is imperative.”
Asad Umar, a senior Pakistani minister, in a post on Twitter welcomed Modi’s letter, calling it a “message of goodwill”.
The message from Modi follows a series of moves and statements signalling rapprochement. The two sides are currently holding talks on sharing Indus river water in New Delhi.
The development comes days after Khan expressed his desire for good relations with India but said the first step should be taken by India as his past peace overtures were not positively received.
Modi’s letter also came days after Pakistan’s powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, called for a peaceful resolution in the disputed region of Kashmir and for peace talks with archrival India while speaking at a seminar on security issues in Islamabad last week.
Last month, the militaries of both countries released a rare joint statement announcing a ceasefire along a disputed border in Kashmir, having exchanged fire hundreds of times in recent months.
The disputed Himalayan region is split between Pakistan and India but claimed by both in its entirety. The two countries have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
Neither country’s foreign office immediately responded to requests for comment on Modi’s letter to Khan.
Source: Al Jazeera “‘India desires cordial relations’: Modi in letter to Pakistan PM”
Note: This is Al Jazeera’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Adding New Commitments in Asia Will Only Invite Disaster
By Van Jackson
March 12, 2021
On his first phone call with Chinese leader Xi Jinping after taking office, U.S. President Joe Biden stressed that “preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific” was one of his top priorities. He made a similar point to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, promising to “promote a free and open Indo-Pacific,” and to South Korean leader Moon Jae-in, calling the U.S.–South Korean alliance a “lynchpin of the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific.” On a call between Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, both leaders affirmed the importance of the U.S.-Japanese alliance as a “cornerstone of peace and prosperity in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” according to a White House readout of the conversation.
Only a decade ago, the phrase “Indo-Pacific” would have left most foreign policy experts scratching their heads. Today, it is not just stock language in Washington but a widely accepted reconceptualization of Asia that is rearranging U.S. foreign policy. In the early days of his administration, Biden appointed Kurt Campbell—one of the architects of President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to Asia—as his “Indo-Pacific Coordinator,” a newly created position on the National Security Council. Soon after, Admiral Phil Davidson—head of what just a few years ago was the Pacific Command but is now the Indo-Pacific Command—announced that the Pentagon was shifting away from its historic focus on Northeast Asia and Guam toward “revising our Indo-Pacific force laydown . . . to account for China’s rapid modernization.” And ahead of Biden’s meeting this week with the leaders of the Quad—a loose coalition among Australia, India, Japan, and the United States that seeks to counter China—White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the president’s decision to make the summit one of his earliest multilateral engagements “speaks to the importance we’ve placed on close cooperation with our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.”
The Indo-Pacific’s evolution from unfamiliar term to foreign policy cliché is not the product of rigorous policy debates or careful consideration. Rather, Washington’s national security establishment has unthinkingly internalized a Trump-era turn of phrase that is rife with unrealistic expectations and unvetted assumptions. The goal of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” may sound noble, but pursuing it will lead the United States astray.
The concept of an Indo-Pacific expands what is meant by Asia to include the Indian Ocean region, an area of debatable interest to the United States that many now see as vital for countering China. Widening the regional aperture in this manner encourages military overstretch by positioning the United States for commitments that will be difficult to defend and distracts policymaker attention from other parts of Asia, where decades of hard-won peace hinge much more directly on American words and deeds. East Asia and the Pacific are not just subsets of a greater Indo-Pacific—they are the core geography of U.S. power and influence in Asia. Forsaking them for the latest geopolitical buzzword is an epic blunder in the making.
ORIGINS OF THE INDO-PACIFIC
The modern concept of the Indo-Pacific dates back to 2007, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe observed in a speech in India that “the Pacific and the Indian Oceans are now bringing about a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity. A ‘broader Asia’ that broke away geographical boundaries is now beginning to take on a distinct form.” After the speech, the Indo-Pacific became a recurring referent in Japanese, Indian, and eventually Australian foreign policy circles. The Indian Ocean had always mattered to these countries; Australia and India front it, and since the dawn of the twenty-first century, Japanese strategists had quietly promoted the idea of partnering with India there in order to dilute China’s strength in East Asia. Reframing Asia as the Indo-Pacific served the interests of all three of these nations.
The Pentagon’s competition-obsessed Office of Net Assessment started pushing the idea of expanding American influence in the Indian Ocean as part of a broader reorientation of U.S. statecraft toward Asia as early as 2002. References to the Indo-Pacific then began to proliferate during Barack Obama’s presidency, as defense strategists in particular started thinking of the Indian Ocean region as a place to balance a rising China at relatively low cost. But the broader idea of an Indo-Pacific really became lodged in the imagination of U.S. policymakers only after the publication in 2010 of Robert Kaplan’s geopolitical travelogue Monsoon, which popularized the idea that the Indian Ocean would take center stage in the twenty-first-century strategy games of great powers.
Kaplan’s prophecy was self-fulfilling—only after the book became a bestseller did the Indo-Pacific become a Washington obsession—but he did not pull it from thin air. Kaplan identified real patterns crisscrossing the Pacific and Indian Oceans: energy corridors, shipping containers filled with Gucci bags and iPhones, migration, terrorism, and subdued Sino-Indian competition for influence among smaller states that long predated the current all-consuming rivalry between China and the United States. The Indo-Pacific, in other words, was a thing, and it merited attention.
Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region became shibboleths during the Trump era, ways for insiders to identify who among them was working in service of a larger project of zero-sum competition with China.
But the idea quickly leapt from novelty to cliché, ultimately stifling rather than improving debates about Asia policy. In Washington, the Indo-Pacific, as a substitution for Asia, came to matter only as a balancing game against China: it and the Indian Ocean region became shibboleths during the Trump era, ways for insiders to identify who among them was working in service of a larger project of zero-sum competition with China. By 2019, using the term “Asia” rather than “Indo-Pacific” suggested either that one wasn’t in the know or that one wasn’t sufficiently committed to kneecapping Xi.
The Trump administration endorsed this more expansive way of talking about Asia because it symbolized and facilitated an additional front of pressure against Beijing. Enamored with the search for new ways to cause problems for China in the Indian Ocean region, Trump officials believed they could draw Beijing’s attention and resources away from other areas of competition. So far, the Biden administration appears to have imported this thinking wholesale. Unfortunately, neither administration gave much thought to the implications and risks of expanding the field of play in this “great game” with China.
ERASING THE ASIAN PEACE
Analytically, the biggest problem with an aggregate Indo-Pacific is that it subsumes an East Asia in which no wars have erupted since 1979. This “Asian peace” is the product of a number of factors, including U.S. forward military presence and alliances, Sino-U.S. détente, economic interdependence, regional norms and multilateral architecture, and the spread of democracy in some quarters. Peace and its causes in East Asia and the Pacific should be the focal points of U.S. policy toward the region, particularly as most of these historical sources of stability have eroded in recent years. What could be more important than preventing war in the world’s wealthiest, most militarized, and most populous region?
By grouping South Asia with East Asia, though, the Indo-Pacific obscures the Asian peace. India and Pakistan have come into conflict repeatedly over the last half century, indicating that the politics of South Asia are out of step with those of East Asia. They are different games. Washington risks losing that insight—and the ability to calibrate policies accordingly—when it views everything through the lens of a single mega-region with a single, albeit implied, mega-purpose. U.S. statecraft cannot address what it cannot see, and the Indo-Pacific formulation turns the Asian peace into a dangerous blind spot.
But a neglected Asian peace is not the only risk Washington runs with its expanded conceptualization of Asia. The United States risks overextending its power in the Indian Ocean region. Washington enjoys many advantages and retains many interests in East Asia and the Pacific: these regions contain five U.S. treaty allies, not to mention Hawaii, where the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is headquartered, and the U.S. territory of Guam. Through the Compact of Free Association, the United States maintains exclusive control over the security of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau in exchange for basing and port access. These alliances and commitments, underpinned by more than 80,000 U.S. troops and dozens of military installations in East Asia alone, give the United States considerable influence in East Asia and the Pacific. But the United States has no comparable alliances, responsibilities, or interests in the Indian Ocean region.
The United States faces a credibility problem in the Indian Ocean region, should it wish to fight a war or engage in coercive diplomacy there.
The United States therefore faces a credibility problem in the Indian Ocean region, should it wish to fight a war or engage in coercive diplomacy there. Without allies or territories in the region, and with scarcer access to bases and ports than in other parts of Asia, U.S. forces would find it harder and riskier to project military power in the Indian Ocean than pretty much anywhere other than the Taiwan Strait. As a result, U.S. threats and commitments in the Indian Ocean region do not carry as much weight as they do elsewhere.
The Pentagon usually expects to overcome disadvantages such as these with more weapons and more funding, rather than with better strategy. But the United States’ thin military presence in the Indian Ocean region is not a gap that needs filling. It is proportional to U.S. interests in the region compared with those in other parts of Asia. Expanding the navy’s presence in the Indian Ocean could make sense if the United States needed to be prepared for the sudden outbreak of war there. But China’s main conflict is on land in the Himalayas—against India, a dispute that does not concern U.S. interests. And China will not remain passive as it perceives the U.S. military further encircling it. The surest path to preventing war in the Indian Ocean is restraint, not more troops in defense of a nonexistent redline. Greater militarization of this part of the world benefits nobody and costs the American taxpayer all the while.
There is also the risk that by trying to cleverly distract and disadvantage China in the Indian Ocean, the United States will distract and disadvantage itself. If the Biden administration had inherited healthy alliances and an uncontested regional order in Asia, perhaps it could have made the case for going even farther abroad in search of new places to stabilize. But the past four years have caused many U.S. allies to question Washington’s reliability, and the list of pressing regional issues has only gotten longer—from intensifying Chinese pressure on Taiwan to North Korea’s runaway nuclear capabilities. Recent polling also indicates that most Southeast Asian nations do not care about great-power competition nearly as much as they do about climate change, economic inequality, and societal recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic—the inverse of U.S. foreign policy priorities of late. Biden, in other words, has plenty of repair work to do in East Asia and the Pacific before he should worry about expanding the United States’ sphere of interest.
BALANCING ON THE CHEAP
None of the above is an argument for neglecting the Indian Ocean. But given the region’s relative unimportance to the United States, and Washington’s comparative advantages elsewhere, only low-cost and low-risk initiatives make sense there. The Quad arguably qualifies as such an initiative, as long as expectations are kept in line with reality. The same is true of the United States’ decision to furnish India with intelligence during its recent skirmish with China in the Himalayas—a sensible move, assuming U.S. officials had reason to believe that better information was going to discourage violence. The United States is also right to welcome Canadian, French, and British involvement in the region, since it costs Washington nothing and has the potential to amplify Washington’s voice while moderating its overzealous competitive impulse through democratic multilateralism.
What these initiatives have in common is not just that they constitute a kind of balancing on the cheap but that they encourage other countries to assume greater responsibility for regional security. The United States should be looking for ways to contribute in the Indian Ocean that offer complementarity without commitment—not ways to command the commons, lead the “free world,” or carry the burden for frontline states whose fates are more directly affected by the shape of Indian Ocean politics. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that “every element of what we do in our foreign policy and national security ultimately has to be measured by the impact it has on working families.” Further militarizing the Indian Ocean and distracting from Asia does not meet that standard.
The Indo-Pacific is, at times, a valid analytic construct. Some things do traverse the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and the Indian Ocean is of geographic importance to U.S. allies such as Japan and Australia. But an ally’s geography is not the United States’ geography. Washington must not allow hubris, fear, or groupthink to distort its perception of threats, interests, and capabilities. What one calls a thing might be trivial, but how one imagines a thing can carry great importance. In the case of the Indo-Pacific, an imagined sphere of U.S. interest that puts the Indian Ocean on a par with East Asia could lead to disaster.
Source: Foreign Affairs “America’s Indo-Pacific Folly”
Note: This is Foreign Affairs’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
The Belt and Road Initiative
Farming and animal husbandry remains indispensable to the country’s agrarian regions. However, while almost 40% of Pakistan’s labor force relies on other sources of income, rural development may not occur without industrialization and infrastructural advancements, which is essential to connect the locals with the neighboring urban areas. Luckily, the Belt and Road Initiative, launched in 2013 by the Chinese and the Pakistani authorities, has endeavored to facilitate these positive changes. The BRI or the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the collective name for a plethora of Sino-Pakistani projects that primarily concentrate on infrastructure and energy, with an estimated budget of more than $62 billion.
Although the BRI is not the only major investment scheme operating in Pakistan, with the Asian Development Bank similarly funding road construction and having spent circa $14 billion on developing the country’s energy sector and rural communities, the former’s scale is unprecedented. Whether one could say the same about its impact on the Pakistani poor is equally important to establish, and now that the Belt and Road Initiative’s initial projects have come to fruition, it is possible to discern that.
Energy Sector Benefits
Within the first seven years of its existence, the Belt and Road Initiative resulted in the completion of 24 energy projects, which are worth $25.5 billion altogether. These include the erection of non-renewable power plants, namely coal stations in the Pakistani towns of Port Qasim and Sahiwal, as well as of solar and wind facilities. Thanks to this, where Pakistan’s annual GDP growth has been traditionally undermined by at least 2% owing to energy shortages, and where only half of the rural population had permanent access to electricity in 2018, the projects successfully replenished its national grid with 3,240 MW.
This was an 11% increase in its overall power capacity, and it helped stabilize the electricity supply to the indefeasible benefit of rural communities due to its diversification of the national energy resources. Furthermore, rural communities are expected to benefit from the construction of natural gas pipelines from Iran to the Pakistani provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh, whose rural poverty rates remain the highest in the country.
Besides helping Pakistan attain energy self-sufficiency, the Belt and Road Initiative has invested $12 billion in constructing new roads and modernizing the local railway system. For example, Pakistan is currently building a 680-mile-long motorway linking its two major economic powerhouses, Karachi and Lahore. Moreover, the equally ambitious Karakorum Highway is connecting those cities to other Pakistani towns.
With faster, higher-quality roads accelerating cargo movement across Pakistan, the government determines farmers will face fewer hardships when transporting their produce to urban markets and city-based purveyors of important amenities will be able to improve their presence in rural areas. Additionally, the former will increase earnings, whereas the latter might encourage competition and bring down prices for basic goods, thereby making them more accessible to the rural public.
Other Economic Benefits
In 2019, China gave Pakistan $1 billion to cover the costs of 27 projects in education, agriculture and poverty alleviation. Most of these projects are concentrated in Southern Punjab and Baluchistan, which scored few points on the Human Development Index and correspondingly have many impoverished villages.
Analyzing the Belt and Road Initiative
Although Sino-Pakistani cooperation under the BRI has created more than 70,000 jobs in Pakistan and the World Bank believes that it could lift as many as 1.1 million Pakistanis out of poverty, it constitutes no silver bullet to the problem of domestic rural poverty.
On many occasions, the dire state of the country’s economy stifled project implementation, which suffered yet another balance of payments crisis in 2018, as well as by government bureaucracy. Thus, the construction of a power plant in Gwadar, a Pakistani port located in the province of Baluchistan and leased to Chinese companies, experienced a three-year delay, awaiting local government authorization.
Some have also questioned the Belt and Road Initiative’s socioeconomic inclusivity. According to the Sino-Pakistani agreement concerning the lease of Gwadar, the Pakistani economy will only receive 9% of the port’s revenues. An even smaller proportion of these funds will go to poverty alleviation programs. Moreover, the nation’s skilled wages have not registered significant growth, which suggests that many professionals still receive meager pay and struggle to cover their daily expenses.
The Belt and Road Initiative in Pakistan is hardly a finished enterprise. Although the majority of the so-called “early harvest” projects have reached fruition, many more are undergoing planning and construction. For this reason, we cannot conclude our evaluation of the BRI’s contribution to fighting rural poverty in Pakistan. Yet, since impoverished populations have benefited from the energy sector and job creation initiatives, this project may indeed prove helpful in alleviating poverty in Pakistan.
– Dan Mikhaylov
Source: borgenproject.org “EXAMINING THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE IN PAKISTAN”
Note: This is borgenproject.org’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.
By Web Desk Thursday Jan 28, 2021
- PM Imran Khan says “when a country loses self-confidence, it begins to think of how to please others”
- Says Pakistan suffered due to “fighting others’ wars”
- Says past governments only thought of elections, not planning ahead, and 2008-2018 was a “decade of darkness”
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that Pakistan must always aim to be self reliant and not be afraid to have lofty dreams.
“People talk about projecting a soft image for Pakistan. What does a soft image even mean? […] Will the world begin to think very highly of us then?” said the premier.
He said that Pakistan must not fall for this misconception. “This is having an inferiority complex. When a country loses self-confidence, it begins to think of how to please others,” the prime minister said.
He was addressing a gathering in Islamabad held to showcase a docu-drama “Paani ke pankh” that highlights the importance of Pakistan harnessing its hydropower capabilities.
Pakistan ‘suffered’ when it chased Western ideologies
“We must never think of doing something that the West wants. Like when Musharraf spoke of ‘enlightened moderation’. […] No one knew what it was. People thought the more they look like people from the West, the more they will seem moderate,” PM Imran Khan said, adding that a nation only does such things when it lacks confidence.
He said that Pakistan need only project one image — that it is an independent nation, one that is standing on its own feet, has confidence, and believes in its future and does not rely on any other nation. “It is only then that the world respects such a nation.”
PM Imran Khan said it was a major mistake to take part in “someone else’s war”, referring to Pakistan supporting the US post 9/11 in the fight against terrorism.
“We fell under pressure and took part in their war […] First we took part in the [Soviet-Afghan War] in the 80s and glorified the mujahideen […] And then after 9/11, we labelled them terrorists and at their bidding began fighting them,” said the premier, adding that of course Pakistan then “suffered”.
Nation must realise that strength comes from within
“So what lesson have we learnt from the past? We have to strengthen the nation and make it stand on its own feet. We have to ready the nation to pay taxes, without which we won’t be able to educate our citizens, take care of their health or improve the infrastructure,” the prime minister continued.
He said it is the nation that has to pay taxes “so we don’t beg for grants elsewhere”. “As our mindset begins to change, believe me I say this as a man who has seen the world, Pakistan’s tremendous potential will begin to unlock.”
The prime minister said the country is blessed with countless bounties, saying that “we undersell ourselves and lack belief”.
“The day we have the confidence we can compete against any other country, the nation will reach great heights.”
‘Decade of darkness’
PM Imran Khan also spoke of previous governments, saying that they “only thought of their own election campaigns instead of planning ahead” for resources.
“They thought of their elections instead of making dams.”
The prime minister said it is owing to the past government’s mismanagement that electricity rates are high. The past deals were such that whether or not there is power utilisation, payments had to be made, he said.
He characterised the 2008-2018 period as the “decade of darkness”.
The prime minister said the secret to China’s progress is long-term planning.
PM Imran Khan said that in Pakistan, after 50 years two new dams are being built, whereas this should have been an activity that took place “from time to time”.
“Had we built dams timely, we would have a 70,000 MW electricity generation capacity,” he said.
Criticising the Opposition for saying that the incumbent government had gathered more debt for Pakistan, he reminded them that when PTI came into power, the country had a debt of Rs25,000 billion. Of the Rs11,000 settled, Rs6,000 went in the way of interest payments, he said.
He went on to say that due to a rupee depreciation, the debt rose by Rs3,000bn.
PM Imran added that of a Rs2,000bn goal in tax collection, there was a deficit of Rs800bn because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Geo.tv “Pakistan must aim for self-reliance, rather than pleasing other nations: PM Imran Khan”
Note: This is geo.tv’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views
“The way they industrialised, made special export zones, brought investments from abroad, and used those investments to increase their exports, all resulted in China increasing its wealth,” Imran Khan said
By: PTI | Islamabad | January 1, 2021 6:41:22 pm
Praising the Chinese development model, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said his government wants to learn from China’s industrial development to accelerate economic growth and eradicate poverty.
“If we can learn from any one country in the world, it is China. Their development model suits Pakistan the best,” Khan said while speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad.
“The speed with which China developed in the last 30 years is something we can learn from,” he added.
Khan said that Beijing had managed to prove that poverty alleviation is real development.
“The way they industrialised, made special export zones, brought investments from abroad, and used those investments to increase their exports, all resulted in China increasing its wealth,” he said.
“They used that money to bring their population out of poverty […] there is no other example of this in history.”
He said that his government was focused on making Pakistan a welfare state and eradicating poverty.
China last month announced that all registered impoverished counties in the world’s most populous country have shaken off poverty.
Khan said that the government had made special economic zones to attract and relocate Chinese industries so that they can export their products from Pakistan.
The prime minister said that the new year would be the year of economic growth as the country was moving in the right direction.
“Our exports are increasing as compared to our competitors, so Pakistan is headed in the right direction,” he said.
Khan said his government would focus on industrial development during the current year that would have a positive impact on economic growth.
He noted that cement and textile sectors recorded fast growth in the recent months.
The premier said that the government’s policy was simple and based on the concept of supporting business for the creation of wealth that would lead to prosperity.
He said the government has dealt with the COVID-19 challenge in the country effectively.
Separately, Khan in a series of tweets said that 2020 was a tough year for Pakistan and the world because of the pandemic.
“But by the grace of God, we fared far better than most. We not only managed to protect our people but also saved them from hunger. We are moving forward to making Pakistan a welfare State,” he said.
He made two New Year resolutions for 2021 about completing two projects.
“One, universal health coverage to all our citizens. It has begun in KP (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) & will soon in Punjab & GB (Gilgit-Baltistan). We hope other provinces will replicate this programme,” he said.
“Two, we will start our most ambitious nationwide project “Koi Bhuka Na Soyay” (No one should sleep hungry) under Ehsaas programme. By the end of the year, these two projects will move us closer to our goal of making Pakistan a welfare state,” he said.
Source: Indian Express “Imran Khan says his govt wants to learn from China’s development model to eradicate poverty”
Note: This is Indian Express’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
CPEC, the $64 billion flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, aims to connect China’s Xinxiang province to the Gwadar seaport through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.
Published 4 days ago on December 28, 2020
By EurAsian Times Desk
Pakistan FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi has blamed India for scheming to destabilize the CPEC project and but said New Delhi will not succeed in its nefarious designs, as Islamabad is taking diplomatic steps to thwart the conspiracies.
Addressing a ceremony in Multan, Qureshi said Islamabad has strong proof of Indian involvement in supporting terrorists and banned organizations to create unrest in Pakistan.
Qureshi said the global community has already been informed about Indian involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan by sharing a dossier in this regard last month. He said the Disinfo Lab has also exposed India’s conspiracies against Pakistan.
Qureshi further added that India has allocated billions of rupees to damage China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and sabotage the peace process in Afghanistan. He said India’s nefarious designs can create a law and order situation in the region and its consequence would be disastrous.
Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported, seven paramilitary soldiers of Pakistan were killed in a terrorist attack on a check post in Balochistan, the army said in a statement. The attack occurred in the Harnai district of Balochistan province, which is a vital route to the multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
CPEC, the $64 billion flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, aims to connect China’s Xinxiang province to the Gwadar seaport through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.
According to experts in Pakistan, India strongly objects to CPEC running through Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, a region claimed by New Delhi and is covertly supporting terror organizations in Balochistan to counter Pakistan’s support for Kashmir’s independence movement.
Source: EurAsian Times “India Has Allocated Billions To Sabotage CPEC Project – Pakistan FM Qureshi”
Note: This is EurAsian Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Nadir GuramaniUpdated 24 Dec 2020Facebook Count
Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati said on Thursday Prime Minister Imran Khan will soon sign an agreement for a trilateral railway project connecting Pakistan with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
Talking to DawnNewsTV, Swati revealed that the project, which was conceived in 2018, included both passenger and cargo trains going between the three countries. He said the project was made possible through a $4.5 billion initiative under the auspices of the World Bank.
“Prime minister will sign the project in a day or two during the visit of a delegation from Uzbekistan, which will include either the deputy prime minister or the transport minister,” said Swati. He added that the accord had already been signed by the presidents of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
Swati termed the agreement on the project the “best news of 2020” for the three countries because of the opportunities it would provide for transport, trade and cargo.
“A whole corridor to the Central Asian republics will be opened up,” said Swati, highlighting that the potential connections with parts of Russia also constituted an important aspect of the rail linkages.
Speaking on the routes which Pakistan would operate, the minister said, “Pakistan will do its job from Peshawar to Torkham. Afghanistan and Uzbekistan will operate the project beyond Torkham.”
Swati said both passenger and cargo trains would operate, and emphasised that the project would deploy “high speed trains” only.
Swati was appointed minister for railways recently as part of a cabinet reshuffle, replacing Sheikh Rashid, who is now the interior minister.
Source: dawn.com “Pakistan to sign railway accord connecting it with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan: minister”
Note: This is dawn.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views
This reblogger’s note: Previously Iran agreed to let India build railway connect Iran, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan with link to India from Iran’s port, but now India has joined the Quad as US ally. It is Pakistan’s chance to build the connection to benefit China.
PTIISLAMABAD:, DECEMBER 02, 2020 18:00 IST
UPDATED: DECEMBER 02, 2020 18:02 IST
His remarks came after he arrived in the disputed region to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the 14-member Gilgit Baltistan Cabinet.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that his government would work on a priority basis to grant the provisional provincial status to Gilgit Baltistan, according to a media report.
His remarks came after he arrived in the disputed region to attend the oath-taking ceremony of the 14-member Gilgit Baltistan Cabinet.
“What will the new government do? First, we will work on granting the region provisional provincial status so that the prevailing sense of deprivation [among the people] can be eradicated,” Dawn newspaper quoted Khan as saying.
India has slammed Pakistan for its decision to hold elections in Gilgit-Baltistan and said any action to alter the status of the militarily-occupied region has no legal basis.
India also clearly conveyed to Pakistan that the entire Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, including the areas of Gilgit and Baltistan, are an integral part of the country.
Elections were held on 23 seats of the legislative assembly in Gilgit-Baltistan on November 15. Polling on one seat was postponed after the death of one of the contestants. Mr. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) won most of the seats in the legislative assembly election in Gilgit-Baltistan. Mr. Khan expressed hope that the new Gilgit-Baltistan government would set a “new tradition” and give a governance system that “sets new standards”.
Source: The Hindu “Granting provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan will be priority: Pakistan PM Imran Khan”
Note: This is The Hindu’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.
Pakistan’s surprise move to declare contested Gilgit-Baltistan region a province will irk India and please China
By FM SHAKIL
NOVEMBER 25, 2020
PESHAWAR – In the run-up to recent local elections, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced he had granted “provisional” provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan, a semi-autonomous state that India also claims as part of the disputed region of Kashmir.
Khan’s designation was declared soon after a closed-door meeting in September between the Pakistan army’s top brass and opposition parliamentarians, and has raised widespread speculation that China tacitly supported the potentially explosive announcement.
Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed and other senior military generals apparently advised opposition leaders on the decision, which threatens to spike tensions and possibly armed conflict with India.
Significantly, most of those who met the military’s leadership are part of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which is currently spearheading a campaign against the military’s outsized role in politics under Khan’s elected administration.
While Khan’s announcement, made on November 1, did not indicate a timeframe for formally establishing Gilgit-Baltistan into a Pakistani province, potentially the nation’s fifth, the move would help to secure the US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through the heart of the disputed region.
How India will respond is a wild card, but analysts suggest New Delhi could opt for new ceasefire-breaking surgical strikes in the territory as it did in September 2016 across the Line of Control in Kashmir, then reputedly to hit militant launch pads.
A future strike, however, would likely be on Pakistani security forces as they move to consolidate Islamabad’s control on the territory.
Khan’s governing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party is now poised to form a government in Gilgit-Baltistan after outpacing the main opposition Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) at November 15 local polls.
Opposition politicians have since said that the issue should have been tabled and deliberated in parliament before making what they say is a hasty decision to change Gilgit-Baltistan’s status, a move some see as a counter to India’s August 2019 withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Critics say that the top brass meeting with opposition leaders, just weeks before Khan’s formal announcement, shows that the “deep state” was pulling strings from behind the scenes and that Khan’s civilian government is fronting a military-devised design. Significantly, the military is leading the China-backed, multi-billion dollar CPEC.
Predictably, India rejected Pakistan’s designation, claiming it was an attempt by Islamabad to hide its “illegal” occupation of the territory. Indian media reports have suggested that China has pushed Pakistan to integrate the region and thus consolidate Beijing’s foothold in the contested region.
Those reports have suggested Islamabad can not likely resist Beijing’s pressure at a time it seeks to roll over a $3 billion Chinese trade finance facility that Khan’s government uses to repay maturing debts.
If China does not extend the financial facility when it expires, the reports suggest, Pakistan would find it extremely difficult to repay the sum, both because of the nation’s dire finances and current poor relations with traditional rich patrons in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Selig Seidenman Harrison, an Asia scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a senior fellow at the Center of International Policy and expert on South Asian affairs, has noted in his research that anywhere between 7,000 to 11,000 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel have been stationed in Gilgit-Baltistan to construct railroads, the Karakoram Highway, dams, expressways and other infrastructure projects.
Harrison has written in the past that China plans to extend its hold in Gilgit-Baltistan to develop unhindered road and rail access to oil-rich Gulf States via Pakistan, thereby bypassing sea routes that could potentially be blocked in a conflict with the United States.
His academic assessments have noted that Chinese oil tankers currently take 16 to 25 days to reach the Gulf, but that the travel time would be reduced to just 48 hours with the completion of high-speed rail and road links that connect Chinese-built Pakistani ports at Gwadar and elsewhere through Gilgit-Baltistan to western China.
Harrison also previously reported in the New York Times on 22 tunnels constructed by China in secretive locations in Gilgit-Baltistan that even Pakistani soldiers reputedly are barred from accessing. He has suggested that the tunnels may serve as “missile storage sites” while also providing for a gas pipeline connecting Iran to China designed to cross the Himalayas through Gilgit-Baltistan.
Harrison’s initial reports on China’s involvement in Gilgit-Baltistan were published before the birth of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the CPEC. China’s vision for the region has taken clearer shape as BRI and CPEC projects have come into view.
China has so far invested over $30 billion in energy, rail, road and early harvest projects across the country, with another $30 billion reportedly on the way. Beijing has also earmarked investment funds for Gilgit-Baltistan’s power sector, including $8.5 billion to build the world’s tallest roller compact dam, known as Diamer-Bhasha.
The dam, scheduled to produce 4,500 MW of power for the national grid, will have a 200-square kilometer reservoir that will flood as much as 100 kilometers of irrigated agricultural land and at least 32 villages, displacing untold thousands of people.
The future of China’s massive investments in Pakistan depends on political stability in Gilgit-Baltistan, which is adjacent to China’s restive Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region where it holds over a million ethnic Uighurs in controversial camps.
Compared to the Pakistani provinces of Balochistan and Sindh, Gilgit-Baltistan is less restive. However, the region has witnessed serious sectarian strife in the past, with local Sunni militants carrying out numerous attacks on the predominantly Shiite population.
Other local groups have taken aim specifically at China’s activities and projects in the semi-autonomous territory. The Balwaristan National Front, a nationalist force agitating for Gilgit-Baltistan independence, has organized several protests against the CPEC and Pakistani authorities.
Those threats could explain why China would prefer for Islamabad to take firmer control of the territory by making it a formal province. Indeed, if the CPEC proceeds smoothly in Gilgit-Baltistan the new infrastructure could greatly reduce China’s costs of trade.
A study on the CPEC’s potential cost-saving impacts on trade, jointly authored by Pakistani and Chinese experts, shows that the once related projects are completed the average transport cost of a 40-foot shipping container between China’s Kashgar and Europe would fall by $1,350 (32.9%) and $1,450 (41.4%) to the Middle East.
Other strategic analysts suggest that the unexpected explosion of China-India border tensions in May this year, resulting in an ongoing military standoff, has amplified Gilgit-Baltistan’s strategic importance while stirring Indian apprehensions of a possible two-front war in the high mountain region.
The battlefield in Ladakh where 20 Indian soldiers were killed by Chinese troops in June along the contested region’s Line of Actual Control is a mere 173 kilometers away from Gilgit-Baltistan, where thousands of PLA soldiers are deployed for building roads, rails and dams and where Pakistan now has an eye on creating its fifth province.
Source: Asia Times “China quietly fuels India and Pakistan’s next conflict”
Note: This is Asia Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.