No policy often good policy

TNN Bureau. Updated: 11/18/2017 11:29:35 AM Edit and Opinion

India is being widely criticised, within and outside the country, for not having been able to come up with a policy on China’s One Belt One Road initiative. The wisdom says having no policy is sometimes the great policy.

India is perhaps just doing that. Wherever China has invested it has taken over the strategic control. It has happened in India’s east, in Myanmar, and it is about to happen in India’s west, in Pakistan. Mark these words.

A scrutiny of the OBOR master plan would indicate Chinese involvement in every sphere of Pakistan’s economy, including agriculture, telecom, internal security systems, infrastructure development and construction of the CPEC.

In infrastructure and agriculture, land would be provided to Chinese companies for setting up projects. A few sentences from the project report would indicate the impact China would have on Pakistan’s economy. It is stated that ‘China-invested enterprises will establish factories’, and ‘thousands of acres of agricultural land would be leased to Chinese enterprises’. Further it is stated that Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are earmarked for mineral extraction, the primary reason for the current insurgency. The report states that the biggest risk factors are political, inflation and security. An interesting part is that China is seeking financial guarantees from Pakistan for its investments.

There is no mention of expected income from the CPEC. The CPEC faces major security issues. India openly objects to the same. It transits through Taliban dominated regions and Baluchistan, hence is open to attacks and disruptions. Reports of Chinese workers being attacked are regular, compelling Pakistan to raise a division-size force solely to protect them. It is so desperate to sell the project to its own population, which doubts its viability, that even its senior army officers sing its praises in all forums. Chinese involvement does not stop here. Pakistan was to take a part loan for the construction of the Karachi-Peshawar railway line from the ADB.

The project was being handled by a Chinese firm. After the firm objected to double financing, the loan from the ADB was dropped and is now funded by China singlehandedly. Chinese loans are in addition to vast borrowings already resorted to by Pakistan from external and internal sources, including the IMF. China will soon be in almost complete control of Pakistan’s economy and infrastructure.

Hence the country’s future lies in Beijing’s hands. In case Pakistan fails to repay, or in the event of its projects being targeted by hostile forces, including the Taliban, Pakistan would be in dire financial straits, as financial guarantees have been provided. China would not need to seek controlling rights over the strategic port of Gwadar, it already has it on lease for 40 years. It could take complete control over Pakistan’s foreign and internal policies, making it beholden to Beijing. Pakistan would then cease to be an independent nation, except in name, rather a province no better than Xinjiang. Its present overdependence on one nation, could break its independence in the years ahead.

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