PAKISTANI PROPAGANDA ACCUSES INDIA OF RUNNING A CELL TO SABOTAGE CPEC

The article originally appeared on India Today. 

Pakistan has long been accusing India of trying to sabotage the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Top Pakistani politicians and army generals have been blaming India for staging attacks in Pakistan through its external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Obviously, all this has been without proof.

But now the Pakistani propaganda has gone a step ahead by incorporating figures like when India founded this so called anti-CPEC cell and how much fund was allocated to it. General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan, while addressing an event in Islamabad today, charged India of running a cell to disrupt the CPEC.

“RAW established a new cell with a special allocation of over $500 million in 2015 to sabotage CPEC projects in Pakistan,” a Dawn report quoted him saying. While addressing an event in Islamabad, he further said, “India’s indirect interference in Pakistan is manifested in sponsoring Tehreek-i-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP), Baloch and other sub-nationalist outfits and many other terrorist groups.”

Now the world can see through such baseless allegations coming from a country that is seen as a safe haven for terrorists and is increasingly becoming isolated in the world for this very reason, especially when it is against India, the world’s largest democracy, a growing global power, both economically as well as militarily and a responsible geopolitical entity.

It is Pakistan, in fact, that has been giving shelter to India’s and the world’s most wanted like Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Hafiz Saeed, Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Masood Azhar, Dawood Ibrahim and is main terror exporter to India, a fact that major world powers including the US and UK have started accepting. How can the world forget that Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was in hiding in Pakistan for years before he was hunted down and killed? How can Pakistan convince the world that it is not home to the Taliban and Al Qaeda factions and the Haqqani Network?

While the ruling Pakistani elite have been brazenly lying about establishing peace in their country and browbeating their propaganda to the world to tell that they have wiped out every terror outfit, the fact is, this year alone, over 450 civilians and around 200 security forces personnel have lost their lives in over 100 incidents in the country, data from South Asia Terrorism Portal shows.

WHY INDIA IS OPPOSED TO THE CPEC

China’s One Belt One Road initiative aims to de velop economic corridors in Asia, Africa and Europe, something that India is opposed to as one of such corridors, the CPEC. India is opposed to CPEC because a part of it passes through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir that is legally India’s. For strategic reasons also, India doesn’t welcome a Chinese presence just across the border in a disputed territory that India considers its own.

CPEC, AN INTERNAL SECURITY NIGHTMARE FOR PAKISTAN

Pakistan sees the CPEC, a long term $75 billion project from Gwadar port in Balochistan to Kashgar China’s Xinjiang province, as the next big thing in the nation’s history that will transform it into of hub and economic activity in this part of Asia.

But the fact is, it passes through many restive regions of Pakistan including Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan and terrorists groups that are hostile to China, including TTP and Al Qaeda, have threatened to attack Chinese investments in the corridor to avenge the so-called atrocities against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang province.

Then there are ethnic people of areas the CPEC passes through who are opposed to it. A combine of religious groups in Gilgit Baltistan has demanded the complete removal of Pakistan’s Army from its soil.

Baloch people, who are fighting the Pakistani establishment for their freedom and have long been accusing Pakistan of exploiting their province, see the CPEC as yet another tool to exploit the Baloch people. Baloch nationalists blame Pakistan for forcefully acceding their province. Pakistani security forces are alleged to have killed thousands of Baloch people. Reports of rape, torture and disappearances are common. Baloch people say they are ethnically different from Pakistanis and are demanding freedom or autonomy to decide their own affairs.

How bad is the security scenario in the CPEC regions also reflects in the fact that Pakistan has raised a Special Security Division (SSD) of 15000 soldiers to protect some 7000 Chinese individuals and CPEC installations that are coming up. This is when the project has just begun. The CPEC was proposed in 2013 and an agreement between Pakistan and China was signed in May 2013.

©SantoshChaubey

PAKISTAN SUMMONS BRITISH ENVOY OVER FREE BALOCHISTAN SLOGANS

The article originally appeared on India Today on November 3.

Pakistan today summoned the British High Commissioner to lodge its protest against “Free Balochistan” slogans on London cabs by Baloch activists. Photographs of vehicles carrying “#FreeBalochistan”, “Raise Your Voice” and “Save Baloch People” are going viral on social media.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua kept Pakistani’ government’s stand in front of the British High Commissioner Thomas Drew and called such display of anti-Pakistan slogans, a direct attack on Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. They also reminded Britain that such “sinister and malicious campaigns should not be allowed on the soil of a friendly country.”

A release by Pakistan’s Foreign Office further told that Pakistan was also raising the issue with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Britain. Baloch nationalists had run a similar campaign in Geneva in September during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) which had seen similar protests from the Pakistani establishment.

The permanent representative of Pakistan to the United Nations had then written a letter to the Swiss authorities which said “The use of Swiss soil by terrorists and violent secessionists for nefarious designs against Pakistan and its 200 million people was totally unacceptable.”

HOW IMPORTANT BALOCHISTAN IS FOR PAKISTAN?

Balochistan is Pakistan’s largest but least developed province. It covers almost half of Pakistan and is rich in natural resources like oil, gas, gold and copper. Out of 1.3 crore inhabitants, most of its inhabitants are Baloch. The province with the Gwadar port is of strategic importance for Pakistan as it shares border with Iran and Afghanistan. The proposed economic corridor between Pakistan and China, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), passes through many areas of the province before its destination at the Gwadar port.

BALOCH TORTURE

Baloch nationalists blame Pakistan for forcefully acceding their province and exploiting its resources at the cost of Baloch lives. Pakistani security forces are alleged to have killed thousands of Baloch people. Reports of rape, torture and disappearances are common. Baloch people say they are ethnically different from Pakistanis and are demanding freedom or autonomy to decide their own affairs. They have also criticised the CPEC which they see as yet another tool to exploit the Baloch people.

©SantoshChaubey

CHINA’S CONCERNS OVER CPEC!

“The CPEC has long been seen as symbolic of Sino-Pakistan economic cooperation. It is unlikely that China will change its supportive attitude on the CPEC in the short term, but the increasing cost of security is becoming a big problem in efficiently pushing forward the projects.”

This is what a piece in the Global Times, official mouth organ of China’s ruling party says.

The piece clearly talks about the need to look for the Southeast Asian opportunity with a gradual shift from CPEC to Southeast Asia. It says, “Beijing should consider giving more attention to its economic cooperation with Southeast Asian countries. The CPEC has long been seen as a flagship project in China’s Belt and Road initiative, but the initiative’s strategic focus may need to shift gradually toward Southeast Asia, where there is a wide infrastructure funding gap but a relatively stable regional environment that will enable China to efficiently push forward ventures under the Belt and Road initiative.”

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC, a long term $75 billion project from Gwadar port in Balochistan to Kashgar China’s Xinjiang province, passes though many restive regions of Pakistan including Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan.

Many terrorists groups including TTP and Al Qaeda have threatened to attack the Chinese investments in the corridor to avenge the so-called atrocities against Uygur Muslims in Xinjiang province. A combine of religious groups in Gilgit Baltistan has demanded the complete removal of Pakistan’s Army from its soil. All other states than Punjab, through which the corridor passes, are alleging that the project has been conceived in a way so as to benefit the Punjab province only.

Add to it the international pressure that is expected to mount in the coming days with India’s proactive instance on Balochistan and PoK now, especially after Pakistan’s backstabbing. Narendra Modi gave Pakistan ample chances to mend its ways and stop exporting terror in Jammu & Kashmir but Pakistan didn’t reciprocate and kept on fuelling terror and tension in the state.

Balochistan has an active independence movement ongoing and the stories of Pakistan’s atrocities to crush it are slowly emerging, especially after Narendra Modi, the Indian prime minister, specifically mentioned in his Independence Day speech on August 15 that India will support the Baloch Movement and will highlight the Pak atrocities and human rights violations there. India, in fact, has raised Balochistan human rights violations at UN Human Rights Council.

Simultaneously, for PoK, India has now made it clear that if Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, then it is only about PoK and the whole state of J&K, including PoK and Gilgit and Baltistan is integral part of India. India, in fact, has requested China to desist from establishing any CPEC project in PoK that is a disputed territory and in forced Pakistani control.

So, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not going to have a stable regional environment in its large territory, something that is a must for businesses to establish, survive and grow. That is the underlying theme of this article that we can say represents the official Chinese position here. The world knows nothing can appear in the Chinese media unless it is cleared by the Chinese power elite and lawmakers.

How bad is the security scenario in the CPEC regions also reflects in the fact that Pakistan has raised a Special Security Division (SSD) of 15000 soldiers to protect some 7000 Chinese individuals and CPEC installations that are coming up. This is when the project has just begun. The CPEC was proposed in 2013 and an agreement between Pakistan and China was signed in May this year. The security nightmare is only expected to grow as the CPEC spreads in more restive regions.

The Global Times article sums it up logically, “It is unlikely to be plain sailing for China and Pakistan in their attempts to push forward the CPEC due to challenges such as a complex regional environment, and people in the two countries should be prepared for potential setbacks.”

©SantoshChaubey

HOW MODI’S PAKISTAN POLICY CHANGED SINCE HIS FIRST INDEPENDENCE DAY SPEECH

The article originally appeared on DailyO.

“I went to Bhutan, Nepal; all the dignitaries from SAARC countries took part in oath-taking ceremony; this marked a good beginning. This will definitely yield good results, it is my belief and this thinking of India, in the country and the world, that we want to do well to the countrymen and be useful for the welfare of the world, India wants such a hand to be extended (sic). We are trying to move forward with these dreams to achieve them.”

This is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said about his foreign policy priorities while delivering his first Independence Day speech on August 15, 2014. The words clearly told of a foreign policy vision that was taking shape and the thought of taking along your immediate neighbourhood seemed the immediate concern.

And when we talk about India’s foreign policy in its immediate neighbourhood, the first thought obviously goes to Pakistan with whom we have had a relation of more lows and very few highs since our independence in 1947.

So when Modi invited Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, along with other SAARC leaders to his oath taking ceremony on May 26, 2014 and Sharif warmly responded to it, bypassing any chance meeting with Kashmir’s separatist leaders, Modi received almost universal praise for his bold initiative to write a new script in India-Pakistan ties.

Modi certainly thought to give dialogue with Pakistan another chance under his charge in spite of the track record of Pakistan’s backstabbing.

The initiative seemed to work and a personal rapport developed between Modi and Sharif. There were exchanges of mangoes, sarees and talks between officials. It seemed some breakthrough development was in the offing.

Though there were many letdowns like ceasefire violaThat was the case till the Pathankot terror attack in January, 2016. He did not mention his SAARC initiative and his policy on India’s immediate neighbourhood and Pakistan in his second Independence Day speech from the Red Fort on August 15, 2015.

He committed a foreign policy coup with an unscheduled visit to Lahore to meet and greet Sharif on his birthday on December 25, 2016.

It was appreciated by the policymakers the world over as an innovative approach to take on the lingering coldness and hostility in India-Pakistan ties. And even after the Pathankot attack, this warm gesture continued as reflected in the easy access given to the probe team from Pakistan that had come to India to verify the “Indian allegations” that Maulana Masood Azhar and the Jaish-e-Mohammed were behind the attack.tions, cross-border firings, Pakistan’s high commissioner Abdul Basit’s insistence on meeting with the Kashmir separatists, and the rants on Kashmir by different Pakistani leaders, itBut things started deteriorating after it. There were conflicting reports that Pakistan had dismissed the evidence given by India. Though it has never officially been confirmed, we can say it is going to be yet another sham like the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks probe in Pakistan.

Pakistan has not responded to India’s requests to allow its probe team to visit Pakistan. The neighbouring country, in fact, has never sounded serious about probing the incident. On the issue of India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Pakistan, along with China, brought together a group of countries that scuttled India’s chances.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has again ratcheted up its Kashmir-rant, especially after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing in an encounter. Much to India’s (and Modi’s disappointment), Sharif and Pakistan have declared Burhan a martyr and funeral processions are being held there.

And like never before, wanted terrorists like Hafiz Saeed and Syed Salahuddin are dictating terms, threatening India openly of dire consequences. It all, it seems, has made Modi uncomfortable enough to finally abandon his Pakistan policy that he had initiated two years back. It seems he has finally run out of patience. After two years of that initiative, we can now say that Modi’s efforts have proved futile.

Its first indications were seen when Modi justified his Pakistan policy by saying that owing to his efforts to reach out, the world was now clearly seeing through Pakistan’s sham and Pakistan was finding it hard to justify its stand on global platforms.

And on Monday (August 15), it became clearly visible when Modi took on Pakistan left, right and centre in his third Independence Day speech. During his over-90 minute speech on Monday, Modi connected threads to his first Independence Day speech by saying that he had proposed a common vision for India and its neighbours to unite and fight together the common enemy of poverty.

He clearly named Pakistan on Monday and detailed on how it promotes terrorism and how the world is now seeing through its tactics. He drew effective parallels with India’s sensitive response on the terror strike on the Army school in Peshawar in December 2014 and on Pakistan’s backstabbing, and doublespeak on promoting terror and fuelling unrest in Jammu and Kashmir.

How detached Modi has become from his Pakistan policy that he had envisioned in May 2014 becomes clear from the fact that he is now trying to put the ball in Pakistan’s court by talking openly on Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) and Balochistan as he did on Sunday (August 14) and Monday.

On Sunday, during an all party meet on Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “Now the time has come that Pakistan shall have to answer to the world for the atrocities committed by it against the people in Balochistan and PoK.”

On Monday again, during his Independence Day address, he very categorically mentioned Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, thanking their people to reach out to India against Pakistan’s atrocities. This stand has come after two years of trial and error and we can say it is now going to define Modi’s Pakistan policy. seemed Modi was still hopeful. He never sounded overtly critical of Pakistan and used his words carefully even if his silence on Pakistan sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India became a national talking point.

©SantoshChaubey