PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

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Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka; Belt Road Forum 2019 in Beijing

Who carried out the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka? Why? Is it a domestic group with outside help? What is India's role in it? Why did the attackers use India as their training base? Did ISIS inspire the attackers? With Muslims facing revenge attacks, what will happen to inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in the island nation at the Southern tip of India? Will there be a renewed civil war? How will it affect South India and the South Asia region?

Tamil Population in India and Sri Lanka

What was the agenda of the Belt and Road Forum 2019 attended by 37 world leaders including Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing? What did President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Imran Khan and other world leaders say at this summit? How will this affect the next phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of BRI (Belt Road Initiative)? How will concerns ranging from debt sustainability and inclusive growth to environmental impact be addressed?

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at BRF 2019 in Beijing

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

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Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

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Comment by Riaz Haq on May 2, 2019 at 4:07pm

Worries over Pakistan debt to China are overstated: Imran Khan’s adviser

Of the $100 bn of debt, only $11 bn is owed to China: Husain
The so-called debt overhang for Pakistan from its participation in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of the ambitious Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, is overstated, according to a top official of Pakistan.

“The propaganda is not based on facts but on perception,” said Ishrat Husain, adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan on institutional austerity and a federal Minister. He was addressing a seminar at the 52nd ADB Annual Meeting of Asian Development Bank on the topic: “Is debt sustainability a cause for concern?”

Money brought in as FDI
Reeling out numbers, Mr. Husain said that of the $45 billion total package from China under CPEC in 2015, as much as $35 billion was for financing power projects in the power-deficit country. “The Chinese government got no extra concessions, the money was brought in as FDI and commercial loans were taken by the Chinese companies. There is no loan obligation on Pakistan,” said Mr. Husain. About $6 billion was in the form a government-to-government loan at 2% interest rate, he said.

Of the total national debt of $100 billion, only $11 billion is owed to China, according to him. Pakistan’s annual investment programme, including both public and private, added up to $50 billion and the CPEC was only a small part of it, he pointed out.

“The Chinese have been very understanding and cooperative. CPEC has put us back on track and we’re determined to put our house in order,” Mr. Husain said.

BRI a natural idea
Speaking in the same panel, ADB president and chairperson Takehiko Nakao said that the BRI, of which CPEC is a part, is a very natural idea to expand the connection between East Asia, Central Asia, Europe and Africa.

“There are merits over investment but at the same time we have to be careful... we must find good projects with good returns even if the lending is to the government. Otherwise it will cause concern over repayment,” he said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on May 5, 2019 at 5:29pm

#Digital #BRI – #China’s growing #5G clout: #China has begun building “information expressway” of fibre optic cable links to #Myanmar, #Nepal & #Kyrgyzstan to link to #Africa by undersea cable from #Pakistan which is being linked to China through #CPEC.

The second summit of the Belt and Road Initiative concluded this week amid great fanfare in Beijing. Headlines proclaimed BRI’s inexorable expansion to new countries and China’s growing footprint. But it was the ‘Digital Silk Road’ project – one of 12 subthemes discussed at the summit – that could prove to be a game changer.

While the US keeps issuing warnings about the espionage risks of using Chinese 5G network equipment and the security threat posed by Huawei devices, China’s telecom infrastructure projects keep growing. Despite the lamentations of a Cassandra-like Washington, Huawei and ZTE are acquiring access to larger markets making an end run around their Western rivals. Less visible than ports and railways of BRI, China’s expanding control over the world’s digital communications networks would give Beijing unparalleled influence. Its growing clout in surveillance tech, combined with its lead in developing superfast 5G, promises to make China a global tech challenger to the US. This significant development comes despite repeated American warnings that it might reconsider sharing sensitive intelligence with allies that allow Huawei to build 5G networks in their countries. Even the UK, which as a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing group (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) once supported a tough stand against Huawei, has now decided to allow the firm to build parts of its 5G network. Major BRI partners don’t even have an option: they are required to use only Chinese 5G suppliers, which hold 36% of all 5G patents worldwide.

Ever since the Digital Silk Road was launched in 2017, China has begun building up an “information expressway” of fibre optic cable links to Myanmar, Nepal and Kyrgyzstan. It plans to connect Africa to China by laying cables across the ocean from Pakistan which is being linked to China through its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. China has offered help to countries as far away as Cuba, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to advance cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence (AI). China’s advance as a digital connector and leading provider of 5G technology – which would form the backbone of autonomous vehicles, facial recognition technology, and AI – to an ever-growing number of developing countries raises the possibility that Chinese-style surveillance states will proliferate. Its ongoing efforts to harness AI to master big data and its ability to harvest vast amounts of such data from connected countries would give Beijing greater political influence than by merely constructing trade and transportation hubs.


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