Major Challenge to Pak-China Alliance
During the historical visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan, on April 20, this year, he and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif signed 51 agreements for cooperation in various fields, related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), energy, infrastructure, agriculture, research, technology, education etc.
The establishment of CPEC between deep Gwadar seaport of Balochistan and the historic Silk Road city in western regions-Xinjiang of China will connect Gilgit-Baltistan through Khunjerab Pass. Beijing would also build an international airport at Gwadar, while the roads infrastructure in Gwadar would link the communication network of rest of the country to facilitate transportation of goods.
When Gwadar seaport becomes fully operational, it would connect the landlocked Central Asian states with rest of the world. Being the commercial hub, the port is likely to increase volume of trade, bringing multiple economic and financial benefits to Pakistan like the Suez Canal which changed the destiny of Egypt when Israel returned it to the former. It will enable high-volume cargo vessels to move in the major oceans. Gwadar project will not only uplift the impoverished people of Balochistan by providing thousands of employment opportunities and is likely to develop whole the province by redressing their grievances. The resulting prosperity in the province would trickle down to the Baloch people and damp the separatist sentiments, which the hostile elements, supported by anti-Pakistan powers do not want.
Recall, when during the Musharraf regime, Islamabad initiated the construction of Gwadar deep-seaport in Balochistan in March 2002 with Chinese assistance, sirens went off in the capitals of foreign countries, especially the US, India and Israel which took it as a threat to their global and regional plans.
Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its ideal location among three key regions, South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic significance. Its development has shifted the Great Game of Central Asia to Pakistan. Hence, sirens still continue alarming in the foreign countries.
Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources like gas, coal and gold, entailing Pakistan’s close ties with China also pinches the eyes of the US, India, Israel and some western countries which intend to destabilize Pakistan for their collective aims.
Therefore, major challenge to Pak-China strategic alliance is that with the tactical support of American CIA and Israeli Mossad, Indian RAW has continuously been assisting the Baloch separatist groups and Baloch Sub Nationalists to conduct subversive acts—and using terrorist elements in Balochistan to threat Pak-Chinese interest in the development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. And, Afghanistan has become a hub from where external secret agencies have been funding and arranging subversive activities in other parts of Pakistan—especially in Balochistan through their affiliated militant groups at the cost of Pakistan, China and Iran. In the past few years, they abducted and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan.
It is of particular attention, that Indian former Army Chief Gen. VK Singh openly admitted that during his tenure, he supervised special army unit, Tactical Support Division (TSD) on the instructions of the then defence minister to sponsor acts of sabotage in Pakistan, particularly Balochistan.
As regards the deteriorating situation of Balochistan, everyone knows that Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated outfits including another group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for secession of the province gets logistic support from RAW and other anti-Pakistan spy agencies—these militants kidnapped and killed many innocent people and the security personnel in the province. They also massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. Therefore, they are responsible for dumped bodies and extrajudicial killings in the province. On a number of occasions, these insurgent groups claimed responsibility for their subversive acts. The main aim behind is to create unrest in Balochistan and to discourage Beijing for the development of Gwadar port.
While, in May, 2013, a day before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Islamabad; Chinese engineers being driven through Clifton Block-1 in Karachi escaped a major bomb attack. Taking note of the foreign powers’ anti-Pakistan designs, during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Islamabad made extraordinary security arrangements.
It is notable that a Gallup survey of the UK official body, DFID, conducted on July 20, 212, had disclosed that the vast majority of the Baloch people oppose the idea of an independent Balochistan.
As a result of the general elections 2013, the government led by the nationalist leader Chief Minister Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik Baloch was established in Balochistan, while on December 7, 2013; local bodies elections were largely held in a peaceful manner in the province. These elections proved that majority of the Baloch are loyal to the federation, and have rejected the case of separatists, being projected by external forces which are weakening Pakistan by supporting the anti-state elements in Balochistan.
It is noteworthy that during his visit to Balochistan, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif on April 15, this year warned foreign forces and spy agencies against destabilizing Pakistan by supporting insurgents in Balochistan. Gen. Raheel elaborated, “Army will continue supporting the Balochistan government till terrorism is wiped out…those found involved in funding and facilitating terrorists will be dealt with iron hands.”
In fact, Gen. Raheel Sharif was compelled to expose conspiracy against Pakistan after the gunmen killed 20 laborers in Turbat district of Baluchistan in the deadliest attack on April 11, who were working at a dam construction site.
It is worth-mentioning that during China’s visit, Gen. Raheel Sharif, on January 25, 2015, China’s Vice Chairman of Central Military Commission Gen. Fan has assured that China will assist Pakistan in every challenge.
Nevertheless, foreign entities shall pose a major challenge to Pak-China strategic alliance through terror-acts. Hence, the intelligence agencies and security forces of both the countries must be well-prepared to cope with these elements.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations