Economic and Strategic Designs and Social Justice: Regarding the CPEC
by Claudia Waedlich on 28 Mar 2017 7 Comments

The purpose of the proactive economy initiative by China with Pakistan, called CPEC, is to embed economic growth into hard strategic goals. This geo-economy of China would change the geo-strategy from Asia to Europe, as well as in the new ‘Silk Roads’ to be built. It is backed by the new big bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which was established for this specific purpose – to finance all the projects of the CPEC, through Kashgar, Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir, FATA, Khyber Pakthunkwa, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab.


The consequent reduction of dependence on the International Monetary Fund caused objections concerning the bank and China`s plans, raised in both the USA and Japan. Unfortunately, Germany, the UK and other European governments were founding members of AIIB.


Their objective, to remove any control and influences from international authorities and foreign economic designs, can now be seen in its development – China is becoming the main political influence in the region through the conditions of the CPEC contract, supported by Pakistan. China is siding with the Pakistan regime in Islamabad to secure influence over the resources along the CPEC with the aid of the Special Security Division (SSD), a body responsible for the security of the Chinese in the area of CPEC. Regardless of the interests of the Balochs, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Kashmiris, Islamabad has signed the contract under the condition that only Chinese Industrialists would be allowed to set up their industries in the proposed economic zones to be created along the corridor.


There are nine Special Economic Zones planned. One each in Punjab, Khyber Pakthunkwa, Balochistan and Islamabad, two in Sindh and one each in FATA, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan; however, the work on them has not yet begun. These planned enclaves are Special Economic Zones in which energy and water supplies will have to be supplied from Pakistani resources.


They will be open only to Chinese investors, prohibited to foreign or local provincial investors and, the state Balochistan which still exists de jure, commensurate with International Law. Balochstan’s independence was acknowledged by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. Prince Suleman Dawood Ahmadzai presented the proof of this in a paper to the House of Lords one month ago.


If access to investment in these Special zones was allowed to all other investors around the world, that would be solid confirmation of the promises made by Islamabad, to create employment for the inhabitants of Balochistan, Pashtun regions, Sindh and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. Nevertheless, Islamabad has signed agreements for these special zones, to allow access only to Chinese investors.


Another important disadvantage of this agreement concerns taxes. Examples in Sri Lanka have proved that enclaves of China include what amounts to colonisation through the migration of Chinese citizens with Chinese investments exempt from paying taxes.


The role of Pakistan is illegal in this treaty. The treaty has feet of clay because the consistency of the contract cannot be guaranteed. I examined its legal foundations in my previous article, ‘Legal aspects of the CPEC’ (26 March 2017). In law, Pakistan should enter into treaties only for which it has the requisite domestic, political consensus and, after it has created the necessary political and legal space for their execution. Once Pakistan signs a treaty, it is bound to make it part of domestic law and to expeditiously implement its obligations.


In accordance with UN convention, all provinces, including Gilgit-Baltistan and the representatives of a free Balochistan (which by right is the Khan of Kalat and a free elected government of the Baloch), must be asked in advance to find a consensus for signing the right contract, with the right conditions; a contract which will deliver real benefit and development to all and one that is not simply a ‘paper tiger’.


At present the politics of federalism and the absence of any domestic legal recording and preparedness, have created the strong possibility of CPEC projects being subjected to unscheduled delays and possible cancellations; thus, exposing Pakistan to liability for violating its international commitments.


A senior Chinese official has said to the Pakistani media that ‘China cannot afford to invest billions of dollars on roads that pass through a disputed territory.’ And yet Kashmir is still a disputed territory. Therefore, Pakistan is not entitled to conclude the CPEC contract.


Furthermore, the role of Pakistan is reduced in this treaty to strengthening security for the planned projects.


The Pakistan government has been forcibly evacuating locals and razing entire villages to the ground in order to make way for the CPEC. The human rights violations, abductions, torture and killings have increased. Everyday news concerning the enforced disappearances of local people in Balochistan floods in and now the same atrocities are being reported in the Pashtun regions.


The Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal, has said that those protesting against the CPEC will be charged under anti–terrorism laws. Rather than the CPEC contributing to stabilizing the whole region, it is instead inflaming the factions and creating more unrest. If we have a look at Gwadar, local sellers at markets are excluded from providing for the Chinese, food is bought in Iran and Karachi. Baloch are not allowed to enter the Gwadar port area which has been leased by China for 40 years.


The Strait of Hormuz is the channel for about one third of the world`s oil trade, making Gwadar’s role in Balochistan vital for ensuring China’s energy security; the proposed naval base for China in the area would act to counter US influence in the whole region. It is also a threat to free passage from and to the UAE and Oman.


So how can this problem become solved?


So how do we propose economic and efficient designs and strategies which will bring social justice to the Balochs, Pashtuns, Kashmiris and Sindhis?


First there must be founded a ‘Government in Exile’ by the Baloch leaders and the Khan of Kalat; perhaps in India.


Second, this government must be acknowledged by India and the US and perhaps, also by Russia, with provision for the countries of Europe following. Media around the world will be informed about the legality of an independent Balochistan. The Security Council of UN will face only China and Pakistan vetoes.


If China and Pakistan are controlling the coasts of Balochistan and Sindh through their navy, the Baloch ‘Government in Exile’ can then legally call for the help of the US and Indian Governments, perhaps Russia too, to intervene and secure Gwadar port.


When US influence is restored, Balochistan along with the USA can dictate the conditions of a new CPEC treaty; a treaty which would really lead to benefits for the local people. The Pakistan government can be obliged to stop atrocities, to let in UN controls, journalists and human rights organisations.


Balochistan`s resources, which are now being plundered by China, will be open to international investors through negotiations with the ‘Government in Exile’ for the benefit of the Baloch people. Both US and Russia will be invited to invest in Balochistan, to fight terrorism with the co-operation of the Baloch, a country which stands for secular thinking, holds western values and wants to close madrassas and end the dangerous religious ideology of extremism, Wahhabism, upheld by Islamabad.


Investment is needed to ease the poverty of the Baloch population and provide taxes to pay for an unconditional basic income for everybody. The control of taxes must be guaranteed to prevent them being siphoned off to Punjabis or others and China would be obliged to pay taxes for the infrastructure they need for their projects.


To create a Baloch state under the rule of law is in the interest of India and its neighbours, including Afghanistan and the Arabian states along the Strait of Hormuz. It is especially in the interest of the US and possibly Russia too, to balance out the increasing imperialist and colonial expansion plans of China. It could have also a positive effect on new Silk Routes to Europe through Russia, which could be built in future.


To provide a way for fair and just negotiations on an even level would be a contribution to peace in the region. It is in this sense that I appeal to the states, to think about justice, autonomy and peace.


Based on the speech delivered at the side events of the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Commission at Geneva on March 13-14, 2017 

User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top