Home / Research Papers

Research Papers

Overcoming Challenges to CPEC

Earlier in February 2014, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s speech had hit the headlines where he had explained his “offensive defence” strategy as: “if you do one Mumbai, you may lose Balochistan”. In all probability, after hitting dead ends in his Pakistan and China Policies, Modi is managing these through his erratic ministers. During his visit to China, Modi had expressed concern over the CPEC on account of its passage through AJK. National security adviser Ajit Doval had prepared a detailed note on the issue and he vociferously raised the issue stating that Pakistan could use the infrastructure improvement to give terrorism a further push across the border–a silly logic indeed. Resurgence of a new movement in IHK to raise Pakistani flags has indeed put off Modi. China has vehemently dismissed Indian concerns about CPEC. Now, India is implementing its “B-plan”—subvert the CPEC project.Strategy is to make the project controversial by projecting as if CPEC would not benefit Balochistan as much as it should. RAW has a long history of sowing the seeds of separatism in Balochistan pegged around disruption of development projects. It routinely provides logistics, travel facilities and platforms to separatist Baloch elements. Besides RAW, there are other players as well, who are keen to keep Baluchistan on boiling point, and CPEC on stagnation.Balochistan’s ethno-sectarian fault lines are quite fragile and hence easily exploitable. Balochistan is a controversy prone province, where anti-federation rhetoric sell well. Some regional and extra regional countries are poised to use this psychosocial pressure point to disrupt the CPEC project. Going by the history of earlier Balochistan related mega projects, the CPEC is likely to become increasingly contentious. Due to power play amongst the tribal heads, all Balochistan related policies and projects do become controversial, because there is hardly any tradition amongst these leaders’ agreeing on anything unanimously. The best approach for the federal government would be to make all the information related to CPEC public through print and electronic media as well as websites; and also reach out to the people directly. At the same time, Baloch leadership should understand that due to availability of multiple routes, they do not hold veto power over the CPEC. Making the matter controversial would only cause delay in operationalization of the Western route.

Read More »

Pakistan’s Emerging neighbourhood

During the last month, President Xi Jinping made two high-profile visits to Asian countries—Pakistan and Indonesia—which is indicative of China’s push for regional outreach, from East Asia to West Asia. While in Islamabad, Xi unveiled China’s biggest aid and investment package for a single country. And while in Jakarta he had a detailed meeting with Myanmar President U Thein Sein. …

Read More »

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Sidestepping Obstacles

Presumably, all political parties have a consensus that they will not do anything that could derail the Chinese investment in the country. In this context, cardinal point is peace in Balochistan. National leadership will have to keep a special vigil on all direct and indirect attempts to create wedge between people and leadership of Balochistan and the federal government.Success and long term sustainability of economic cooperation with China would largely depend on how effectively and speedily Pakistan can implement these projects and utilize new investment windows such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund.It is all easier said than done, onus of creating conducive environment is on Pakistan. And Pakistan should do its part on fast track. First and foremost is a diplomatic campaign to allay the fears of neighbouring countries that the economic corridor is against the interest of any third country. Second, approach Iran and UAE for joint management of three ports—Chabahar, Dubai and Gwadar. Third, strengthening the national consensus about advantages of the corridor. Fourth, taking the Baloch leadership and public on board so that province could benefit from the project. Despite efforts by three successive governments, 450 Kilometers stretch of road from Gwadar up northwards has not yet been constructed due to law and order situation. Ethnic Baloch rebels, who oppose Gwadar's development, have in the past blown up numerous gas pipelines and trains and attacked Chinese engineers. The rebels want to scare off investors and developers who are working with the Pakistani government -- such as the Chinese. They are being lavishly funded by India, they use Afghan soil as sanctuaries and launching pads. Suppression of rebellion by force has proven dicey. The political process to resolve the issue need to be strengthened and fast tracked. Window of opportunity is not unlimited for the leadership and people of Balochistan. If the portion of the road planned for Balochistan does not come up within a reasonable timeframe, alternative routes may be followed; if so, the province’s benefits from the economic corridor shall stand significantly curtailed. Notwithstanding the setting up of special security outfit for the corridor, ultimate key to sustainable security rests with the local population adjoining the corridor and its associated projects. Sustained economic cooperation with China is in the best national interest; and national leadership owes it to next generation, let’s not make another Kalabagh dam out of it.

Read More »

Pakistan embraces another thankless war

[Featured map: Courtesy BBC] During difficult hours Saudi Arabia, as indeed other Middle East countries, have been looking up to Pakistan for security cover. Bilateral agreements are in place with most of these countries that bind Pakistan to provide necessary support when asked for. Most of these agreement carry a clause that Pakistani troops shall not take part in war on behalf of requisitioning states. Nearly 40 percent Saudi National Guards are of Yemini reign. This composition of National Guards is the underlying reason for current Saudi nervousness. Within Pakistan there is an overwhelming support—almost national consensus— to align with Saudi Arabia during all sort of crisis, including providing military assistance, with a caveat that such force is not used against any other country. Another concern is that such military deployment may embroil Pakistan in the sectarian violence back home. If the government of Pakistan is able to address these concerns, a national consensus is likely to evolve, barring some sectarian outfits. Arab leaders at their summit in Sharm el Sheikh on March 29-30 have voiced their support to the Saudi led operation against Houthi rebels. The UK and the US are also aligned with Saudi Arabia on this operation. Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemen conflict, and the subsequent Saudi announcement of a coalition against Houthi rebels, involving Pakistan, has drawn a mixed reaction at home. Pakistan’s involvement in Afghan conflict brought home terrorism, and Pakistan’s involvement in Yemen could accentuate the sectarian violence which is already on boiling point. People of Pakistan deserve better, they need a break from war fatigue— especially from others’ wars. At this point and time, Pakistan must not be on the wrong side of history. Though official stance is that decision to participate in coalition is still under discussion; the decision, in all probability, has already been taken—Pakistan’s military contingent could proceed to Saudi Arabia, sooner than expected.

Read More »

Pakistan’s necessity for nuclear electricity

While the popularity of nuclear power took a major hit, worldwide, in the aftermath of Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear fiasco in 2011. Pendulum has swung back and even in Japan, due to intermittent energy shortages, heavy reliance on imported energy, and impending default of international commitments on Carbon emissions, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a push to adopt a plan that could reopen closed nuclear power plants and pave the way for the construction of new ones. In many countries, plants are often located on the coast, in order to provide a ready source of cooling water for the essential service water system. Plant designs and associated infrastructure take into account the risk of flooding and tsunamis. Generation III reactors are at least 17% more fuel efficient, and have lower capital costs, while Generation IV reactors promise 10000-30000% greater fuel efficiency and elimination of nuclear waste.Over the last 40 years of its life cycle, KANUPP I, which is the oldest reactor of its kind in the world, continues to operate in Karachi safely with IAEA certification. Due to growing energy demand, Pakistan plans to increase the share of nuclear energy to 8,800 Mega Watt electrical (MWe) by 2030. This would constitute 5.41 per cent of the national energy mix. Other sources of energy like hydel, coal, renewable, oil and gas, would still have the major percentage. When completed in November 2019, K-II&III would add 2,200MW to Pakistan’s electric power, at a very cheap rate. Average price of power generated by Chashma-3 and 4 would be around Rs 9.59 per unit, much less than the price of electricity generated by thermal plants running on gas or oil. Due to economy of scales, new KANUPP category plants would produce cheaper electricity than the Chashma class power plants. Pakistan should look towards developing nuclear energy as its mainstay electricity generation system. Nuclear electricity remains one of the cheapest, most efficient, and carbon-friendly forms of energy generation. Energy superpowers like the United States, Russia, and Canada have made nuclear power lucrative, not just through cheap energy, but through licensing their technology to developing countries looking for a new energy source. For these reasons, nuclear power will be integral to the world energy mix for decades.

Read More »