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Monthly Archives: April 2015

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.

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Mainstreaming Balochistan

A number of development projects have been signed during the visit of Chinese President. Most of these mega projects shall benefit the people of Balochistan. Some of envisaged infrastructure does not suit a few neighbouring countries and a few distant countries. Their interest converge and they are, individually as well as conjointly, making effort to keep Blochistan unstable so that these development projects do not materialize on ground.Since the start of Gawadar port project, a lot of lose money has always been readily available from some of the foreign NGOs/ think tanks for sensationalizing the Balochistan situation. Such sponsors nominate speakers for such events, control the contents and throw up recommendations of their choice. Some Pakistani entities and individuals unknowingly walk into the trap; and for some it’s their bread and butter. Noble causes like freedom of speech, autonomy of academic research and Human rights are often referred to for justifying their bizarre acts.On April 11, twenty construction workers were killed and three others injured when unidentified gunmen opened fire on them in a pre-dawn attack on a labourers' camp near Turbat. The victims belonged to Sindh and Punjab. Banned Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), headed by Dr Aala Nazar, promptly claimed responsibility for the attack. Law enforcement agencies need to put their act together and arrest high profile dissidents of the like of Dr Aala Nazar and bring them to justice. This will deliver a strong message and hasten normalization of Baluchistan.

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Canada rewards its nuclear thief

Canada shall provide 3,220 metric tonnes of uranium concentrate for Indian nuclear power reactors over five years, beginning this year. Canada had supplied the first Indian reactor CIRUS in 1954. India payed back by using Canadian technology and stealing fissile material out of this reactor to carry out a nuclear test in 1974. Canadian Green Party's Indigenous Affairs Critic Lorraine Rekmans said: "Selling uranium to India could cause us to violate the NPT if India uses it to manufacture weapons, and make us part of the global insecurity problem." India's un-safeguarded 8 nuclear power reactors churn out enough fissile material for producing at least 100 warheads annually.

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India’s erratic stance

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, analyst were watching as to who would call the shots in Indian foreign policy—parliament or the BJP hardliners. Now with BJP’s adoption of resolution on foreign policy the situation has become clear; it is the hardliners in the BJP who would remote control India’s policy, and more so it’s China and Pakistan policy. Now the party wants Modi to walk its elections days’ talk.Pakistan and India have remained engaged in the past under the framework of Composite Dialogue—a structured dialogue covering all issues. Pakistan is committed to a result-oriented, sustainable and meaningful dialogue with India to address all issues of mutual concern.India’s new trend of focusing on the issue of terrorism only is a dangerous strategy; it implies that India no longer wants to have a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan.

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Yemen Crisis: Time to cease the moment!

Iran-Turkey summit has reinforced the likelihood of a cease fire in Yemen. Iranian foreign minister shall soon convey this to Pakistan; at the same time he will urge Pakistan to not to join the Saudi led coalition. By this evening all information gaps would be filled. While an overwhelming consensus is emerging for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement, no frame work for such talks is on the horizon. Space for diplomacy is clearly increasing; by now, all parties to the conflict have nodded affirmative for negotiations; hence raison d’etre for sending the military contingent to Saudi Arabia is fast diluting. Handling of this crisis by the government of Pakistan was slow, it could not match the speed of events. Political parties also kept shifting their stance. There was a huge gap between the Pakistani and Saudi positions regarding the ongoing role of Pakistan in Yemen crisis—positions varied between meek denial by Pakistan and total embrace by Saudi Arabia. People of Pakistan were left in a state of confusion. By taking a strong partisan position, Pakistan, like Turkey, lowered its acceptability for playing a lead mediatory role. While Pakistan government is overwhelmingly on Saudi side, leadership should not lose the sight of the stark reality that key to the resolutions of Yemen crisis is with Iran. Inclination toward dialogue by all sides presents a unique opportunity; Pakistan should make a course correction and take a lead in converting this widow of hope into a workable action plan for lasting peace in Yemen.

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Deliberate Ambiguity?

A photograph released by Saudi Arabia shows Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri at the news briefing with 11 flags displayed behind him, including those of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan maintains that it has neither joined the military coalition nor has it sent any military personnel to actively participate in any operation. Earlier CNN apologized to Pakistan for reporting that Pakistani fighter jets had taken part in the fighting in Yemen. PM leaves for Turkey tomorrow for consultations on Yemen; and for the same purpose, Iranian Foreign Minister shall arrive in Pakistan on April 08.

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