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CPEC is Transforming The Least Developed Parts of Pakistan

In a New York Times Op Ed titled "How Not to Engage With Pakistan",  ex US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard G. Olson says "Its (CPEC's) magnitude and its transformation of parts of Pakistan dwarf anything the United States has ever undertaken".  Olson goes on to warn the Trump Administration that "Without Pakistani cooperation, our (US) army in Afghanistan risks becoming a beached whale".

Among the parts of Pakistan being transformed by China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are some of the least developed regions in Balochistan and Sindh, specifically Gwadar and Thar Desert. Here is more on these regions:

Gwadar Port City:

Gwadar is booming. It's being called the next Shenzhen by some and the next Hong Kong by others as an emerging new port city in the region to rival Dubai. Land prices in Gwadar are skyrocketing, according to media reports. Gwadar Airport air traffic growth of 73% was the fastest of all airports in Pakistan where overall air traffic grew by 23% last year, according to Anna Aero publication.  A new international airport is now being built in Gwadar to handle soaring passenger and cargo traffic.

In addition to building a major seaport that will eventually handle 300-400 million tons of cargo in a year, China has built a school, sent doctors and pledged about $500 million in grants for an airport, hospital, college and badly-needed water supply infrastructure for Gwadar, according to Reuters.

The Chinese grants include $230 million for a new international airport in Gwadar, one of the largest such disbursements China has made abroad, according to researchers and Pakistani officials.

New development work in Gwadar is expected to create as many as 20,000 jobs for the local population.

Thar Desert:

Thar, one of the least developed regions of Pakistan, is seeing unprecedented development activity in energy and infrastructure projects.  New roads, airports and buildings are being built along with coal mines and power plants as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There are construction workers and machinery visible everywhere in the desert. Among the key beneficiaries of this boom are Thari Hindu women who are being employed by Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) as part of the plan to employ locals. Highlighted in recent news reports are two Hindu women in particular: Kiran Sadhwani, an engineer and Gulaban, a truck driver.

Kiran Sadhwani, a Thari Hindu Woman Engineer. Source: Express Tribune

Thar Population:

The region has a population of 1.6 million. Most of the residents are cattle herders. Majority of them are Hindus.  The area is home to 7 million cows, goats, sheep and camel. It provides more than half of the milk, meat and leather requirement of the province. Many residents live in poverty. They are vulnerable to recurring droughts.  About a quarter of them live where the coal mines are being developed, according to a report in The Wire.

Hindu Woman Truck Driver in Thar, Pakistan. Source: Reuters

Some of them are now being employed in development projects.  A recent report talked of an underground coal gasification pilot project near the town of Islamkot where "workers sourced from local communities rested their heads after long-hour shifts".

Hindu Woman Truck Driver in Thar, Pakistan. Source: Reuters 

In the first phase, Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) is relocating 5 villages that are located in block II.  SECMC is paying villagers for their homes and agricultural land.

SECMC’s chief executive officer, Shamsuddin Ahmed Shaikh, says his company "will construct model towns with all basic facilities including schools, healthcare, drinking water and filter plants and also allocate land for livestock grazing,” according to thethirdpole.net He says that the company is paying villagers above market prices for their land – Rs. 185,000 ($ 1,900) per acre.

Summary:

Ex US Ambassador Richard Olson is absolutely right in his assessment that "(CPEC's) magnitude and its transformation of parts of Pakistan dwarf anything the United States has ever undertaken".  Olson goes on to warn the Trump Administration that "Without Pakistani cooperation, our (US) army in Afghanistan risks becoming a beached whale". The "magnitude" of CPEC and its "transformation" that Olson refers to is clearly visible in some of the least developed regions of Pakistan in Balochistan and Sindh provinces.  Gwadar port city and Thar desert are humming with unprecedented development activity fueled by billions of dollars of funds allocated by China and Pakistan.  

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Comment by Riaz Haq on January 10, 2018 at 11:24am

Gilgit Baltistan, another least developed region in Pakistan, is benefiting from CPEC: 

Billions of rupees were being spent on expanding road network for boosting business and tourism activity in Gilgit-Baltistan areas.

This was stated by Chief Minister Gilgit-Baltistan Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman while talking to a news channel. The present government was working to expand tax and road networks to benefit the people of the area, he said.

A committee had been formed to bring the tax reforms, he said adding Anti-corruption laws was also being implemented in G-B areas.

About 15 to 20 lakh tourists had been visiting the Gilgit-Baltistan, due to peaceful environment restored by the efforts of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), government, he said.

To a question the CM G-B said that an amount of Rs 47,00,000 had been collected through withholding tax.

Appreciating the federal government initiatives, he said that besides Gilgit-Baltistan budget, the Center had also provided 19 billion rupees for special projects and development of the area. Two power projects of 100 mega watt and 80 mega watt capacity, costing 52 billion rupees would be completed through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said.

To another question Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman said that Gilgit-Skardu road was being completed with the cost of 35 billion rupees. More than 100 billion rupees was being invested to link and expand road networks, he added.

Completion of roads would reduce the distance besides save the precious time of the people travelling from Gilgit to Islamabad, he said. A regional grid station would also be built in near future, he added.


https://pakobserver.net/billions-rupees-spent-expand-road-network-g...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 10, 2018 at 11:26am

CPEC to open development era for KP’s southern districts

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Federal Minister for Housing and Works Akram Khan Durrani has said that the multi-billion project of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would usher in new era of economic progress and prosperity in the southern district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Talking in a meeting with elders on the occasion of a wedding ceremony of a renowned social worker here, the minister said that southern district which had long been awaiting development-oriented measures were included into development projects under the CPEC in wake of efforts of the party’s chief Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman.

He said the mega project featured establishment of industrial zones at designated places all along the route besides other billions of dollars worth development schemes.

He said that industrial zones would bring economic prosperity to southern districts of KP and generate job opportunities for its people who had long been ignored by other political parties.

He said with construction of the route, people of the area would have access to modern facilities of life.

He said the CPEC would promote trade ties with neighbouring countries Central Asian States and South Asian countries, which would ultimately prepare the ground to make Pakistan a trade hub in this whole region.

He said CPEC project involved billions of dollars worth development schemes and would bring prosperity not only for the two countries but for the region as well, adding this mega project would create job opportunities and the country would move ahead on the path of progress and development.

Referring to the FATA merger issue, the federal minister said that future of FATA should be decided in line with wishes and aspirations of tribal people.

He said that Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman was struggling to achieve bright future for the people of tribal belt and had always stressed the need to keep in view interests and rights of the tribal people.

He said FATA people had rendered supreme sacrifices for the sake of the country so decisions may not be imposed against their will and aspirations.

He also said the revival of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) was a welcome sign and would supplement efforts for strengthening democracy in the country.

https://www.brecorder.com/2017/12/27/389322/cpec-to-open-developmen...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 10, 2018 at 8:31pm

The Gilgit-Baltistan Working Development Party (GBWDP) approved on Wednesday several mega projects worth millions of rupees for uplift of different sectors to provide better services to people. The meeting reviewed scores of development schemes and approved key projects for departments of Home, Social Welfare, Education and Energy with special focus on improving socio-economic conditions of the masses besides providing quality services. To effectively tackle aftereffects of natural calamities, a mega project of Rs100 million is to be completed and two schemes costing Rs240 million for tourism, sports and culture departments have been approved. 

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1605446/2-g-b-approves-economic-uplift...

GILGIT, Pakistan: Gilgit Baltistan (GB) registered 25 percent increase in domestic and foreign tourists last year due to significant improvement in the security, law and order situation in the province.

The growth in foreign and domestic tourists that visited different areas of GB had increased by 25% as compared to last year owing to effective measures taken by the government to improve law and order situation in the province, official sources in GB Tourism Department told the state-run news agency on Friday.

The official said arrival of 1.75 million international and 38.8 million domestic tourists to Pakistan, successful holding of Peace Cup 2017 in Miranshah North Waziristan Agency, Asia Peace Festival, Pakistan Motorcar Rally from Khunjrab to Gwadar and PSL Final in Lahore, establishment of Counter Terrorism Force and rehabilitation of Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs) have clearly showed that peace and normalcy was fully returned to the Country besides enhanced its soft image of being tourists and sports loving Country.

The official said tourism was the most important sector where people can knew about each others’ culture, customs, traditions and civilizations besides earned valuable foreign exchange for the Country. He said Pakistan’s foreign missions and overseas Pakistanis can play a key role in promoting tourism in the Country especially in GB and assured full cooperation in this regard.

https://dnd.com.pk/gilgit-baltistan-registered-25-more-tourists-in-...

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 11, 2018 at 7:35pm

China Outbidding US For Pakistan’s Future – Analysis

https://www.eurasiareview.com/11012018-china-outbidding-us-for-paki...

Trump has accelerated the process of deteriorating relations at breakneck speeds, and China is well-poised to pick up the replace the U.S. as Pakistan’s global backer. It’s not just the tweet or fraying of diplomatic relations, but the lack of concerted effort to secure Pakistan as a partner as U.S. interests are drowned out by other powers.

As Trump works on “Making America Great Again,” China is literally building inroads to become West Asia’s hegemon.

During Trump’s short tenure, his administration has overseen the rapid retrenchment of U.S. power from West Asia and the Middle East: Trump has relinquished Iraq to Iran, stepped back on the Iranian nuclear deal, withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, retreated from a meaningful part in the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, and now is seemingly turning its back its alliance with Pakistan.

Both economically and militarily, China is successfully implementing a plan to outbid the U.S. for Pakistan’s future.

According to John Fei, an independent consultant who has previously served as a manager to John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Asia Security Initiative, China views Pakistan as a vital part of a larger initiative to establish a globally dominant economy.

“China’s interests in Pakistan dovetail closely with its Belt and Road Initiative. Through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China will be able to exert economic influence and gain a strategic foothold in the region.”

The Belt and Road Initiative is a massive project spanning nearly the entire world, and involves China forging accessible trade routes between China and countless other countries. Part of that initiative is CPEC, a $62 billion investment in Pakistan’s infrastructure to facilitate China’s economic agenda.

In other words, China is essentially reworking Pakistan’s entire infrastructure and economy so that it is routed to China. The project not only promises to fundamentally reshape the world economy around China, but it also spells danger for the U.S., which risks losing leverage over countries that could simply sign on to China’s economic world vision.

CPEC also looks to renovate Pakistan’s businesses, agriculture, defence and telecommunications, and societal structures. In the words of Firstposts’ Tara Kartha, “The currency was the last bastion of the Pakistani state that remained inviolate. It seems that this is now about to be breached.”

According to Fei, now that CPEC is well underway and Pakistan has adopted the Chinese yuan, it no longer needs the U.S. dollar to conduct international trade.

China has quickly become Pakistan’s most critical trade partner, importing far more from China ($17.2 billion) than the closest competitor, the U.S. ($2.1 billion). China has also rapidly rose through the ranks to become Pakistan’s second-largest export destination, just behind the U.S.

So while Trump attempts to revitalize the U.S. economy by ‘bringing jobs back,’ and advocating for a kind of anti-globalist isolationism, he has largely remained silent on the slow leaching of critical U.S. assets abroad which bolster the American economy.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 11, 2018 at 10:31pm

Dubai vs Gwadar: port cities chart a course for share of world’s economy

By Ashraf Aboul-Yazid and 3 collaborators

https://www.wikitribune.com/story/2018/01/11/pakistan/dubai-vs-gwad...

A strategic port at the confluence of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in southern Pakistan is continuing to push its rival megaports in the United Arab Emirates, pitting the lesser-known Gwadar against Dubai in a bid to move goods faster and more cheaply to some of the most populated countries of the world. 

“Many economic analysts believe that Gwadar is another Dubai emerging on the world’s map,” said Tariq al-Shammari, a writer and self-described activist, who wrote about the expansion of the Pakistani port for OpenDemocracy, a UK-based political website. “Gwadar port will become the main sea gate for Central Asia.”

As it becomes easier to send goods through Gwadar, Dubai may see a threat to its regional influence, al-Shammari said.

“This challenging point, recently, has caused a silent economic war in the Gulf of Oman between two groups of countries; Pakistan, China and Qatar on one side, India and the UAE on the other,” he wrote.

How the ports stack up

Dubai’s two major commercial ports — Port Rashid and Port Jebel Ali — provide significant revenue to the UAE. Jebel Ali has the biggest man-made harbor in the world and the biggest Middle East port, and more than 5,000 companies from 120 countries rely on its services for goods ranging from consumer items to heavy construction machinery.

Gwadar’s deep sea port is strategically located to provide easier access to the Gulf region and the Middle East for China, especially the northwest Xinjiang region, and central Asia countries. The overland distance from Gwadar to Kashgar, in China, is 1,500 miles, while it is another 2,500 miles to move across China to Shanghai. Cargo ships have to move double the distance, again, to reach the Middle East waters.

The Gwadar corridor will reduce the transport time for goods to Western China by about 60 or 70 per cent, according to Liu Ying, a research fellow at the Chongyang Institute who studied the economics of the port (The Telegraph).

China’s influence

The Gwadar port is a key project in China’s One Belt, One Road initiative (South China Morning Post), which seeks to build strong economic connections between China and the countries along the old Silk Road – and well beyond.

Gwadar was built with financial and technical assistance from China, which took operational control after the Port of Singapore Authority pulled out of a 40-year port management and development contract because it was unable to get the land it sought to develop a free trade zone. The Gwadar port had been unable to become fully operational because of unsettled issues between Islamabad and the port authority.

The pivot to China “will also enable the dragon to swim in the Indian Ocean, which is strategically important for China as it expands its influence across the region, according to The National, a newspaper based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

“To ensure the security of shipments along existing routes, a Chinese naval presence at Gwadar could also patrol the Indian Ocean sea lanes. Of concern to Washington and New Delhi is the Chinese naval presence near the Strait of Hormuz and its strategy of building a ‘string of pearls’ presence on the Indian Ocean rim,” the newspaper reported.

The Gwadar Development Authority is working on developing residential and commercial areas at the port, spurring growth in real estate and services. As observers note, some of the projects mirror those in Dubai, of which it may always be more of “sister city,” than a true rival (The Express Tribune).

Comment by Riaz Haq on Sunday

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
‘Constructive cooperation’
By M Ziauddin Published: January 13, 2018

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1607164/6-constructive-cooperation/

Without disagreeing with the main argument by President Trump for suspending security assistance to Pakistan, The New York Times editorial on January 6th had come up with a sane suggestion that the president “…marshal other diplomatic tools, to see if more constructive cooperation with Pakistan is possible.” Stressing the point further, the editorial made an even saner and timely proposal that the president “harness his new friendship with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to shut down Haqqani and other Taliban fund-raising efforts in the Persian Gulf.”

The argument that the bulk of funding that the Haqqanis and other Taliban factions have been receiving all these years is coming from Saudi Arabia and the UAE has never been in doubt. The regional currency market operators have been processing these transactions like normal business for ages without batting an eye.

During Pakistan’s ‘lost decade’ of the 1990s the real rulers of the day had used these funds to finance their military operations as well as their efforts at governance. These flows have continued even after 9/11 but this time these funds have been going straight to the Afghan Taliban, including Haqqanis fleeing to safe sanctuaries in Pakistan in the aftermath of second Afghan war which is now in its 17th year.

-------------


So, if the US wants to see a quick end to the Haqqanis and other Taliban factions using Pakistani soil to launch their murderous operations inside Afghanistan, it will have to persuade Saudi Arabia and the UAE to effectively move against these fund raisers in their respective countries and forcibly turn off the clandestine tap that is sustaining the firepower of Haqqanis.

------------

And those in the US who believe Pakistan has effectively bribed the international community with the spectre that any instability could result in terrorists getting their hands on Pakistani nuclear technology, fissile materials, or a weapon are totally off the mark as well. It is not Pakistan but these misguided US political pundits who have cultivated a global fear that Pakistan is too dangerous to fail.

Indeed, even a complete stoppage of the US aid most of which has come in the form of grant or at concessional rates would not hurt the country’s economy seriously because the US has been siphoning back 99 cents from each of its aid dollar in the shape of consultancy fees, shipping charges and transfer pricing resorted to while importing goods and services from the US as per conditions hidden in the fine print of the aid agreements. So, the Chinese loans if not any more beneficial for Pakistan than the US grants, would not be any less beneficial as well.

Of course, Pakistan would be seriously hurt if the multilateral aid agencies under the influence of the US were to stop offering the country a helping hand in times of economic crises which we experience on a regular basis.

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