Pakistan Army's Behind-the-Scenes Role in CPEC Success

In July 2016, British newspaper Financial Times report headlined "China urges Pakistan to give army lead role in Silk Road project (CPEC):  Squabbles in Islamabad highlight obstacles to Beijing’s plans for transport and energy corridor" said as follows:

"Frustrated with the slow progress on a sprawling, $46bn infrastructure project stretching from China to south Asia, Beijing is seeking to give Pakistan’s army a lead role.... progress has stalled as the two sides work out how to turn the proposals into concrete projects, said Victor Gao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official, with some blaming Pakistan’s competing ministries"..... “Pakistani politicians have squabbled over the route for the CPEC and this may have made people nervous in Beijing,” said a Pakistan government official. “Pakistan is a noisy place politically while the Chinese are not used to harsh disagreements, especially over such a vital project.”

Chinese Container Ship "Cosco Wellington" at Gwadar Port

Gwadar Port Operational:

In the first week of November 2016, hundreds of containers arrived at Pakistan's Gwadar Port from Western China via CPEC's western land route. These containers were loaded onto "Cosco Wellington", a large Chinese vessel, and the ship departed Gwadar Port on November 13, 2016, for various destinations in Africa, Middle East and Europe.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and General Raheel Sharif at Gwadar Port on Nov 13, 2016

So what is happening behind the scenes? Is the Pakistani military playing a big role in making CPEC a reality? What is the extent of Pakistan Army's participation in executing CPEC-related projects? Let's examine answers to these questions in three parts: Managing squabbling civilians, providing security and projects execution.

Squabbling Civilians:

Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif is playing a very active behind-the-scenes role in managing the infighting among politicians, ministers and the civil servants. It has been reported that Gen Sharif has been talking to all of the stakeholders regularly to ensure progress on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.

Providing Security:

Various militant groups, including Indian government proxies, are engaged in sabotaging CPEC. While some attacks have been successful, it is believed that the Pakistani military has been able to prevent many more. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of intelligence officers are believed to be working to manage the security situation all along the western route and in Gwadar.  This is what made the recent pilot run with the trucks convoy reaching Gwadar and operationalizing the port recently.

Projects Execution:

The Pakistan military has thousands of civil, mechanical and electrical engineers with decades of experience in building large infrastructure projects and analysts say the army is well placed to supervise the corridor, according to the Financial Times.

In fact, Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization (FWO) is building significant parts of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). A July 2015 announcement is an illustration of what Frontier Works Organization is doing to advance CPEC:

“The Frontier Works Organization (FWO) has built roads with 502 kilometers length on the western alignment of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to link Gwadar with other parts of the country. The FWO took up the challenge to extend the benefits of Gwadar port to rest of the country by building roads in rugged mountainous terrain and highly inaccessible areas. The gigantic task was undertaken on the directives of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif."

Army's Strong Commitment:

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has made his institution's commitment loud and clear by frequent statements on the subject. He has said “We will do everything to make it a success". He is also record as warning that “terrorism is a global issue and warrants global response. The funding of all terrorist organizations has to be checked by all. We are against use of proxies and won’t allow it on our soil".


Pakistan Army is playing a crucial role in ensuring progress and completion of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects. The army leadership is using all its power and influence with all stakeholders, including politicians and civil servants, as part of this campaign to bring about development of infrastructure and energy to make Pakistan economically successful.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

CPEC to Create Over 2 Million Jobs

Modi's Covert War in Pakistan

ADB Raises Pakistan GDP Growth Forecast

Gwadar as Hong Kong West

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

Indian Spy Kulbhushan Yadav's Confession

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW Successes Against Pakistan

Saleem Safi of GeoTV on Gwadar

Pakistan FDI Soaring with Chinese Money for CPEC


Riaz Haq said…
Gwadar was originally built during Musharraf years, inaugurated in 2007 and occasionally used for ships carrying imported fertilizer to Pakistan.

However, this is the first time Gawadar received cargo containers from China via CPEC western route that were loaded on to a Chinese container ship for export.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan targets 6% GDP growth by 2018 …

Haroon Akhtar, special assistant to the Prime Minister on revenue said on Wednesday the country, beset by low tax-to-GDP ratio, is expected to achieve growth rate of six percent before the next elections, due to introduction of pro-business policies.

“The business-friendly policies of the government have resulted in rapid economic development and the country will achieve growth rate of six percent by the elections (due 2018),” Akhtar told business leaders at the newly-constructed building of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Islamabad.

“Low tax-to-GDP ratio is hampering development for which we are trying best, while enhanced transparency has been ensured in the FBR (Federal Board of Revenue).”

During the recent years, the country has seen its growth accelerate on support of a three-year bailout program by the International Monetary Fund. Still the government is struggling to increase narrow tax base, shrinking exports and key foreign direct investments.

The FBR collected Rs3,112 billion in taxes for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, registering a 20 percent increase over the previous fiscal.

Yet, the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio has stagnated at 10 percent over the last few years. A study said only tax evasion shears five percent from the tax-to-GDP ratio.

The government eyed growth rates at 5.7 percent for the current fiscal year of 2016/17 and seven percent for 2017/18.

Pakistan’s economy achieved growth rate of 4.7 percent in 2015/16, the highest in the past eight years.

The World Bank, however, projected the country’s growth rate at 5.4 percent by 2018. Akhtar said a lot of incidents of tax evasion are being reported, “but, we opt for legal actions in a very few cases.”

“Those who pay tax after detection face no action at all,” he added. “US is a super power because of a good tax system, while Europe is considered developed due to good taxation, therefore Pakistani business community should also discharge obligation so that Pakistan can develop at a fast pace.”

He said a number of sectors, including fertiliser, have been given tax breaks, which has resulted in good growth. “Lenders like Asian Development Bank is ready to provide loan on less than two percent, which indicates its confidence on Pakistan’s policies,” he said.

The PM’s assistant said the government has not transferred burden of improved oil prices to the masses. He said those who say that foreign debt would swell to $110 billion have overlooked certain facts. “GDP, investment and exports will also take a boost,” he added. “Debt-to-GDP ratio in Pakistan is at a comfortable level of 20 percent, while average interest payable on debt is three percent, which is not worrying.”

Riaz Haq said…
#CPEC: Will #India Start War With #Pakistan And #China Over It? … via @ValueWalk

By Polina Tikhonova

With China and Pakistan actively working on the CPEC, the uptick of irresponsible propaganda pieces coming from politicians and analysts – originating mostly from India – shows no sign of going away.

Such an opinion was expressed by Panos Mourdoukoutas, a contributor for Forbes. Mourdoukoutas argues that China has to either appease India or “forget” about the CPEC project.

A number of Indian government officials have expressed their concerns over the CPEC since the project was announced over three years ago. And while India, as alleged by Pakistan, has made numerous attempts to disrupt the project, the chances that India might actually start a war with China and Pakistan over the project remain equal to zero.

In fact, former Indian Ambassador Melkulangara Bhadrakumar said India would “lose heavily” if it remained opposed and isolated from the CPEC.

However, numerous Indian government officials believe the CPEC is designed to undermine India’s position in the region and see the project as a threat to India’s interests.

While that creates tensions between China and Pakistan on one side, and India on the other, authors of anti-CPEC propaganda pieces seem unable to provide at least one legitimate reason as to why India would go to war with China and Pakistan over the project.

China would protect the CPEC at all costs as the project is worth a whopping $46 billion and is a game-changer for both China and Pakistan. Disrupting the project would mean a direct declaration of war to China and Pakistan. And India knows it.

This past summer, the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations suggested that Beijing will have “to get involved” if New Delhi attempts to disrupt the project.


In his piece arguing that China is lagging behind India in terms of investments, Mourdoukoutas provides data that suggests India’s economic growth is set to outpace China.

Although India currently enjoys the rise of its economy, the country is becoming less attractive for investors in the long run. The reason? India is a “highly crowded trade,” as said by Herald van der Linde, head of Asia Pacific equity strategy at HSBC, in the bank’s Asia Equity Insights Quarterly.

“High fund holdings, premium valuations and slow pace of reforms make us reluctant to enter the market,” van der Linde wrote, adding that India’s earnings growth expectations are also slowing down.

Will India go to war with China and Pakistan over CPEC?

In his article, Mourdoukoutas also suggests that “if pro-Indian forces in Pakistan sabotage China’s CPEC route,” China should expect an open confrontation against India.

Mourdoukoutas also argues that it’s the reason why Beijing “should either appease New Delhi or forget about CPEC altogether.”

An open military confrontation between the world’s two most populous countries is very unlikely, especially considering the fact that India has already made several large-scale attempts to sabotage the CPEC.

Earlier this year, Pakistan alleged it had arrested a spy from India’s RAW, Kulbhushan Yadav. Islamabad believes that Yadav is responsible for hindering implementation of CPEC projects in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.
Riaz Haq said…
#Gwadar port a watershed in #China and #Pakistan ties- #CPEC

China and Pakistan have sailed into the Arabian Sea and are waiting to shake hands with the UAE and the rest of the world across the Straits of Hormuz. Making marine shipping and political history, two ships sailed from the new Pakistani port of Gwadar into the Arabian Sea.

China and Pakistan are tapping the most important energy-rich markets in the world - the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Africa - with two ships - MV Cosco Willington and MV Al Hussein - sailing into the Arabian Sea from the new Pakistani port of Gwadar, destined for the Middle East and African ports. The occasion is a watershed moment.

It also marked the opening of the first segment of the $51 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Gwadar and the CPEC are the lynchpins of making this region a big economic zone. It will cover the whole of China, Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east, UAE and Saudi Arabia in the South, Iran in the west and Turkey-EU in the northwest.

The CPEC reduces the sea route from Shanghai to the UAE to a few kilometers. Eyeing the massive business opportunities, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey have offered to join the CPEC zone. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Islamabad to take the deal forward.

The western Chinese city of Kashgar won the distinction of being the first to use the pilot project in the new land-sea route.

Geo-strategic location
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the CPEC, of which Gwadar is the southern-most terminal, has become a reality with the start of shipment of trade cargo from this new port.

"The CPEC project enjoys a unique geo-strategic location, standing at the crossroads of three major engines of growth, including South Asia, China and Central Asia. It will change the fate of three billion people in the region. It will also serve as the hub of a major trade zone," he said.

Pakistan has already allocated land for the Gwadar free trade zone, with special tax and tariff concessions. The exclusive industrial park, processing zone and mineral economic zone are being implemented on a fast-track basis.

Sharif described the Gwadar-CPEC project and arrival of the Chinese cargo-container convoy as "break of a new dawn" and "a watershed event."

Sharif said: "I applaud the role of Chinese President Xi's [Jinping] vision of regional prosperity which coincides with Pakistan's vision of Deevelopment-2020. President Xi's vision of shared prosperity through greater connectivity is the need of the hour in a conflict-ridden and polarised world."

President Jinping said: "Our concept of 'one-belt, one-road' aims at integrating trade and commercial activities of regional countries through enhanced connectivity. It will transform Pakistan into a major hub of trade." The message was read out at the inauguration of Gwadar port by Ambassador Sun Weidong.

The ambassador said it is for the first time that a trade cargo has successfully passed through from the north of China to the south of Pakistan and onto the Arabian Sea.

"This is also for the first time that China and Pakistan have co-organised a trade convoy through Pakistan to Gwadar port. The local people will get jobs. It proves that connectivity of local roads will be beneficial to all."

The project officials said that 125 Chinese cargo trucks had entered Pakistan through the border post of Sust. They also said an air link between the Chinese city of Kashgar and Pakistani city of Skardu will be established. Yet another air link will connect the Chinese city of Urumqi with the Pakistani city of Gilgit to facilitate trade of Chinese goods through Gwadar.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan to establish 29 Special Economic Zones along #CPEC network in all 4 provinces via @techjuicepk

Federal government is planning on establishing about 29 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in all of the four provinces under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

SEZs will be capable of enhancing country’s economic capacity, expanding the exports and providing much-needed momentum to the country’s economy. They’ll prove to be a turning point in the industrial development and infrastructure also. Pakistan has always been lagging behind the other South Asian countries in utilizing the SEZs benefits.

What are SEZs?

The idea of SEZ first started in New York in 1937. As per SEZ Act of Pakistan,

“Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a blanket term for various types of specialized zones with specific types of enterprises operating in a well-defined geographic area where certain economic activities are promoted by a set of policy measures that are not generally applicable to the rest of the country. Successful SEZs offer immediate access to high-quality infrastructure, uninterruptible power supply, clearly titled land, public facilities, and support services.

The fiscal benefits under the SEZ law include a one-time exemption from custom duties and taxes for all capital goods imported into Pakistan for the development, operations and maintenance of a SEZ (both for the developer as well as for the zone enterprise) and exemption from all taxes on income for a period of ten years.”

As per 18th Amendment, provinces can now independently formulate their investment and trade policies. SEZs will be a source of their collaboration in designing lucid policies.

The challenge to be faced by SEZs will be in selection of the area. Government should select remote locations so that other locations are not over crowded. They should design a unique incentive structure to attract potential investors. They should also provide residential facilities near economic zones.

Already established industries in Pakistan like textile, cement, household appliances, surgical equipment, mineral resources etc., will be the potential candidates for such SEZs.

This will be a huge step for Pakistan if properly implemented. Considering that China is also in the phase of upgrading its industrial base, CPEC may face some issues in obtaining the necessary material. The adequate coordination between two countries and the provincial and federal governments of Pakistan and designing an appropriate incentive structure are the necessary conditions for the success of SEZs under CPEC.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan sets up special #maritime force to secure #CPEC-linked sea lanes to #Gwadar | IHS Jane's 360 …

The Pakistan Navy (PN) has set up a new maritime force known as Task Force-88 (TF-88) to protect sea lanes linked to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is expected to trigger a surge in maritime activity at the country's Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

The new task force, which will reportedly comprise naval vessels, manned and unmanned aircraft, and other surveillance assets, was established on 13 December "for [the] maritime security of Gwadar Port and [the] protection of associated sea lanes against both conventional and non-traditional threats", according to a DAWN newspaper report.

Marines are also set to be deployed at sea and around the port to enhance security, a senior PN official was quoted by the paper as saying.
Riaz Haq said…
Dr Jean-Francois Di Meglio, President of #Asia Centre in #France: "#CPEC is a game-changer for #Pakistan". #China

KARACHI: China may have more core benefits from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) but it’s a game-changer for Pakistan which will also benefit from it. Contrary to what some Europeans think, Pakistan has a strategic position in the region.

This was one of the main points raised by Dr Jean-Francois Di Meglio in his lecture on ‘The Economic, Strategic and Environmental Consequences of the New Silk Roads’ at the Area Study Centre for Europe (ASCE), University of Karachi, on Wednesday.

Dr Di Meglio, who is President, Asia Centre, France, said he was not an expert on CPEC so what he would talk about was based on his experiences. He said his talk was divided in two parts: Europe’s standpoint on the Silk Road project and China’s point of view.

Regarding the first part, Dr Di Meglio said when China announced the project in 2013, Europeans were doubtful about it. They thought since it was a 35-year project nothing could be achieved in the short term. They also thought that China was trying to rejuvenate something that used to exist in the past and there was no point doing it. Some people, however, harboured the notion that it was part of a grand plan. It was innovative because earlier the flow [of goods] was from West to East and now China was trying to reverse the direction of history.

Shedding light on what Silk Road used to be, Dr Di Meglio said in the late 20th century it was just a road but also entailed some key points and strategic places, one of which was the area crossing the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. In modern history, he said, two significant events took place. The first was the Great Game between Russia and Britain at the end of the 19th century where Russia had accumulated wealth and wanted access to the sea; the other was the Afghanistan War that resulted in the disintegration of the USSR.

Dr Di Meglio said it was complicated for Europeans to talk about CPEC but countries like Germany and France had shown interest in it. With regard to negative feedback, some Central Asian countries were of the view that Russia was trying to re-establish links with China and the risk was that “China would be too much present”. But the Europeans discarded many important factors, he said.

On the Chinese approach to the situation Dr Di Meglio said [economic] reforms in China started in 1978 and after 35 years, in 2013, they came up with another project. If you looked at the dates, another 35 years added to 2013 would mean the arrival of the year 2048. In 2047 Hong Kong would come back to Chinese sovereignty fully; and 2049 would be the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. He said reforms brought in 1978 came through a simple process: enrichment. If the people were richer they would be easier to manage. The Silk Road had the potential of making some countries marginally richer. That could be done by building infrastructure and by linking them up with China.

Dr Di Meglio said CPEC was not an easy project but was not the most difficult to achieve either. There was room for Pakistani companies and politicians to take the initiative and speak to the Chinese for a level playing field as much as possible. Whosoever was going to benefit more from it, it was a game-changer for Pakistan. He argued that let’s say Pakistan was only benefiting 10 per cent from the project; even then you had other benefits like “influence” and “footprint”. He said some Europeans thought that Pakistan existed because there was a partition in 1947; they did not realise that Pakistan had an important strategic position.

On China’s ambitions, Dr Di Meglio said while it wanted prosperity and stability, it did not want domination in the region. China knew that in the past empires rose and fell. “The way to last long is not to dominate other countries but to play with them.”

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan gets additional $1 bn in #Chinese financing for roads, bringing #CPEC to $55 billion so far. via @Reuters

Dec 27 Pakistan expects to secure soft loans from China of about $1 billion this week for three road projects in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a Pakistani official said on Tuesday.

The roads lie on the western route of CPEC, a $55 billion network of roads, rail links, power plants and other infrastructure connecting western China to Pakistan's southern port of Gwadar.

They include roads from Raikot to Thakot, Yarik to Zhob and from Basima to Khuzdar, Ashraf Zaman, spokesman for Pakistan's National Highway Authority (NHA) told Reuters.

Zaman said a deal was reached with the Chinese to finance the three additional roads in November.

"Hopefully, agreement will be signed between the two countries in this regard in China-Pakistan Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting to be held on Dec. 29 in Beijing," he said.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan winning war against #Terrorists. #Taliban #TTP #FATA #Karachi #MQM.

Violence has not just dropped a bit. It is down by three quarters in the last two years. The country is safer than at any point since George W. Bush launched his war on terror 15 years ago.

The Taleban had long treasured a secure basis in Karachi, as had religious terror groups. That was a conventional crime industry specialising in kidnap, drug smuggling and extortion (every business had to pay protection money to gangs).

Pakistan’s politicians tolerated this. Pervez Musharraf, the army chief and president, was often accused of allowing the armed wing of Karachi’s largest political party, MQM, to operate with complete impunity.

This policy continued under Musharraf’s civilian successor, Asif Zardari, whose Pakistan’s People’s Party governed Karachi in coalition with MQM from 2008 to 2012. Five years ago we walked around gangster-infested Liyari town in Karachi’s port area with the local mafia don, Uzair Baloch. Baloch (now in jail) told us he could speak to Zardari whenever he wanted. The violence just rose and rose, until Zardari’s replacement Nawaz Sharif ordered his cabinet to Karachi and gave the state’s paramilitary arm, the Rangers, unlimited powers. This was the moment when political tolerance of violence ended.

We interviewed Major-General Bilal Akbar, director-general of Sindh Rangers for the past two-and-a-half years, at his HQ in the south of the city; he has since transferred to be the Pakistani army’s chief of general staff. After asking us to pass on his regards to Nick Carter, head of the British army (with whom he used to play bridge every Friday night when they were both stationed in Kabul), he explained the security situation.

In 2013 there were 2,789 killings in Karachi. In the first 11 months of 2016 there were 592. In 2013 there were 51 terrorist bomb blasts. Up to late November this year, there were two.

Three years ago, Karachi suffered from an orgy of kidnapping for ransom. There were 78 cases in 2013, rising to 110 the following year. This year, there have been 19.

Some 533 extortion cases were reported in 2013; in 2016, only 133. Sectarian killing is sharply down: while 38 members of the Shia minority (who are brutally targeted in Pakistan) were killed in 2013, that figure was down by two thirds in 2016.

Major-General Bilal told us: ‘We have apprehended 919 target killers from the militant wings of political parties since September 2013. They confessed to over 7,300 killings. The daily homicide rate in the city is less than two now. It used to be ten or 15, and during ethnic clashes we could lose 100 lives a day.’

Just three years ago, according to the Numbeo international crime index, Karachi was the sixth most dangerous city in the world. Today it stands at number 31 — and falling.

Six months after he ordered the Rangers into Karachi, Nawaz Sharif took an even more momentous decision. The prime minister, whose initial instinct had been to negotiate with the Taleban and oppose the use of force, yielded to advice from his generals. He sent the army into North Waziristan, the Taleban stronghold on the Afghan border.

North Waziristan had not just provided a base for the Taleban leadership. It was a centre for the manufacture of explosives, suicide vests and military equipment, and for training camps, as well as drawing in foreign fighters from al-Qaeda. It was the epicentre of terrorism in Pakistan, which is why this intractable and remote area had been left alone by the army for so long.

In June 2014, General Raheel Sharif (now a national hero, and no relation of prime minister Sharif) took charge of a massive military offensive, Zarb-e-Azb. Taleban groups responded with a series of atrocities of which the most grotesque was the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, in which a reported 140 children were killed.
Riaz Haq said…
What Could Kill #Pakistan's Big Stock Market Rally ( 40% Market Gain in 2016)? via @forbes #KSE100 #CPEC #China

Pakistan’s stock market has been on a tear in recent years. The country’s main KSE index has gained close to 400% since 2009, and 40% this year alone—leaving neighboring markets in the dust.

Pakistan’s equities have had a number of things going their way, like an improving macroeconomic environment—rising economic growth and falling inflation and interest rates. The country’s economy grew close to 6 percent in 2016, up from 4.8 percent in 2015, with inflation running around 4 percent, down from 10 percent four years ago. And the 10 year Treasury bond has yielded 8 percent, down from 12.5 percent four years ago.

Then there are a couple of overseas endorsements for Pakistan’s market reforms. Like $1 billion in support from the World Bank – and a couple of domestic acquisitions from foreign suitors, such as the acquisition of Karachi’s K-Electric by Shanghai Electric Power Co.

Another overseas endorsement was the inclusion of Pakistan’s market into MSCI’s emerging market index.

So what could kill Pakistan’s big stock market rally?

The usual suspects that haunt frontier and emerging markets: inflation, corruption, and revolution. Not always in the same order.

At least that’s the experience of South Asia and Latin American countries which have been in a similar position before.

Pakistan’s low inflation, for instance, is hard to maintain at these levels, as a poor infrastructure creates bottlenecks, which could push prices of basic commodities higher. Besides, Pakistan is heavily reliant on imported oil, which has almost doubled since last January.

Then there’s corruption and cronyism, which lead to large government budget and current account deficits, while constraining competition and technological progress. In spite of some progress in the last five years, Pakistan is still high up on Transparency International’s Corruption Index.

And revolution can only be around the corner, as the country suffers from poor enforcement of the law, sharp income inequalities, and territorial disputes with India.

Adding to these concerns over the future of Pakistan’s equities is rising US interest rates, which make investing in emerging and frontier markets less appealing than shopping around inside the US economy.

That’s why investors should be very cautious about pouring more money into Pakistan’s equities at this point.
Riaz Haq said…
#China to Fund 4,000 MW Power Transmission Line in #Pakistan. #CPEC … via @thewire_in

State Grid of China will help build a 4,000 MW power transmission line in Pakistan in a project valued at $1.5 billion, Pakistan said on Friday, the latest in a series of Chinese investments in its South Asian neighbour.

The high-capacity transmission line will be the first of its kind in Pakistan and will link Matiari town in the south, near a new power station, to Lahore city in the east, a key link in transmission infrastructure, the Pakistani government said.

An agreement on the project was signed on Thursday in Beijing between Mohammad Younus Dagha, Pakistan’s secretary of water and power, and Shu Yinbiao, chairman of State Grid Corporation of China, the government said in a statement.

Construction will begin in January, and should take about 20 months, said a spokesman for the Pakistani prime minister’s office.

Pakistan has been plagued by a shortage of electricity for years, with widespread rolling blackouts in both rural and urban areas.

The government has managed to reduce load shedding – scheduled power outages – in some areas, but production gaps and distribution woes remain.

The project is the latest in a series of big Chinese investments, most of which fall under a planned $55 billion worth of projects for a China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The corridor is a combination of power and infrastructure projects that link western China to Pakistan’s southern port of Gwadar.

Other Chinese investment in Pakistan has included the acquisition of a majority stake by Shanghai Electric of the K-Electric power production and distribution company for $1.8 billion.

Last week, a Chinese-led consortium bought a 40 percent stake of the Pakistan Stock Exchange for an estimated $85 million.
Riaz Haq said…
China Is Investing Billions in Pakistan. Its Workers There Are Under Attack.
Beijing’s Belt and Road investment strategy meets resistance in the developing world it seeks to influence

China is the largest lender to the developing world, mainly through Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road infrastructure program. The country has worked to portray itself as a benevolent partner to the countries where it is spending money, in an attempt to draw a distinction with Western powers.

Still, as its global reach expands, China is increasingly grappling with the consequences of projecting power around the world, including corruption, local resentment, political instability and violence. For developing countries, China offers perhaps the best chance of quickly building major infrastructure.

Beijing accepts a degree of security risk in pursuing its Belt and Road program and is committed to working with partner governments, such as in Pakistan, to mitigate threats to Chinese personnel and assets, Chinese experts say.

“We couldn’t possibly wait until all terror attacks cease before starting new projects,” said Qian Feng, a senior fellow at Tsinghua University’s National Strategy Institute. “We have to keep working, studying the issues, and undertake preventative measures at the same time.”

Chinese businesses and workers in several countries where it is making investments have become favored targets. Chinese nationals are seen as wealthier than most locals and, in some cases, are perceived to be reaping too much of the economic benefits and job opportunities created by Beijing’s investments.

Gunmen in Nigeria abducted four Chinese workers in June during an attack at a mine in the country’s northwest. In October, unidentified “thugs” attacked a Chinese-funded business in Nigeria and killed a Chinese employee there, according to the Chinese consulate in Lagos. The consulate urged Chinese companies to hire private security and fortify their work areas.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Chinese investors dominate the mining industry, Chinese business groups and workers have sounded alarms about armed robberies and kidnappings in recent months. Beijing has urged local authorities to step up security for Chinese assets and personnel.

There were about 440,000 Chinese people working abroad for Chinese contractors in Asia and roughly 93,500 in Africa at the end of last year, according to the China International Contractors Association, a Beijing-based industry group.

The Oxus Society, a Washington-based think tank, counted about 160 incidents of civil unrest in Central Asia between 2018 and mid-2021 where China was the key issue.

Beijing recognizes the rising threat to its workers in developing countries but doesn’t want to send in its army as it professes noninterference abroad, said Alessandro Arduino, author of “China’s Private Army: Protecting the New Silk Road.” Instead, China is deploying technology such as facial recognition and hiring more private Chinese security contractors, he said.

China chose Pakistan—one of its closest allies, with deep military ties and a common rival in India—as a showcase of its investment in developing nations. Beijing has spent about $25 billion here on roads, power plants and a port.

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