CPEC: Economic designs and human rights in South Asia
by Claudia Waedlich on 24 Jun 2017 6 Comments

The state of Pakistan signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR) along with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Covenant is monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966, and has been in force since 3 January 1976. Participating states have the right to ask for advice and help from the UN General Assembly on appropriate measures to realise these rights.


The Covenant commits its parties to the granting of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) to Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, and, to certain individuals, rights regarding labour, health, education and an adequate standard of living.


The ISESR is part of the International Bill of Rights, along with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Pakistan both signed and ratified this. The state of Pakistan claims a general reservation to interpretation of the Covenant within the framework of its constitution.


If we can take a more specific view on Part 3, Articles 6 to 15, in which the detailed rights are listed and how they refer to the present situation in Balochistan; a state extant de jure, occupied de facto, as a province of Pakistan.


According to the legal standard of International Law, Pakistan has no right to interfere in Balochistan and accordingly uses this “situation” to disregard the signed and ratified rights by this Covenant, arguing their reservations as per their constitution. In my opinion, to profit from, yet to refuse to own its obligations to Balochistan, is criminal exploitation at its worst. Pakistan is abusing the Covenant, which has no regulatory legal powers, to abnegate its obligations to occupied territories.


Pakistan’s obligations towards occupied territories include the right to work under just and favourable conditions with the right to form and join trade unions, social security and social insurance. There is no evidence that Pakistan applies these rights to Balochistan.


An adequate standard of living, including basic food, water, clothing and housing should be everyone’s right, but the reality in Balochistan today is a horror story of poverty, starvation, with no access to water now in Gwadar, burnt-out houses, increasing since the implementation of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), and no possibility of a life with security, peace and dignity. Pakistan wages permanent war through the actions of their armed forces on the civil population of Balochistan.


The improvement of living conditions, promised by the contract of CPEC, is applied only to the Chinese, some Punjabis and some Sindhis working on the projects. Balochs have no access to the projects or benefits; the only access is to security workers close to the puppet regime in Quetta.


A worse situation refers to the standard of physical and mental health in Balochistan. For example, the population, in the area of Chagai hills where Pakistan set off the atomic bomb in 1998, are suffering from unknown diseases without any medical or financial assistance or care.


Moreover, the abduction and torture of Balochs in the Pakistani army camps of Pakistani has been proved.


The very culture of Balochistan is being denied by the Pakistani regime as it tries to wipe out the language of the Balochs in schools, closes bookstores and forbids books in Balochi and Brahui in schools and universities; instead the regime has opened madrassas teaching extremism leading to the radicalisation of the former secular society.


Pakistan has the task of securing that the CPEC treaty encounters no opposition or setbacks and thus there are an increasing number of military operations along the CPEC routes, with shocking evidence of a growing genocide of the Balochistan people. This silent genocide will change the demography of Balochistan to forward Pakistan’s strategic needs and ensure no resistance from the population.


The Balochistan population is seen as a political problem. Once a people rise up against oppression, like the Balochs are doing, authoritarian governments, such as Pakistan and China, resort to violence and criminal means to suppress it. These abhorrent regimes are instigating and exacting appalling acts of cruelty every day on the people of Balochistan.


Henry Kissinger once said: “Who controls the food supply controls people, who controls the energy, can control continents, who controls money can control the world.”


Food is being used as a weapon in the areas surrounding the CPEC routes, water too, and China plans to invest in, or take over, farmland in the Pashtun areas. They seek to lease agricultural land, to increase harvests through the introduction of pesticides and effectively control the supplies of food in the area. “[There are] one billion starving people in all Asia, where the lack of water has resulted in unprecedented food shortages that threaten the continent`s ability to feed its growing population.”



The goal of the CPEC treaty is a one-sided profit by China with Pakistan trying its utmost to capitalise on the back of it. Balochistan and the other deprived nations in their way will pay the hardest price for it. China and Pakistan have fomented a war over dwindling resources, to exploit oil and gas in Balochistan, and on food and water to sustain their own populations and remain in power. All at the cost of Balochs and Pashtuns.


Article 1 of the Covenant states:

All people have the right of self-determination.

For this right, the Covenant should be informed about all the injuries suffered by the Balochs and their country, under the rule of Pakistan.


Although the status of Balochistan is an occupied country, there is a case for a de jure existing state which Pakistan exploits to its own advantage. However, it can be interpreted that Pakistan is obliged to adhere to the covenant and uphold the rights of the Balochs because of the lack of a freely elected government of a state of Balochistan.


Concerning the rights of Balochs in the context of the Covenant Article 1, paragraph 2: “Freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources, based upon the principle of mutual benefit and international law”.


The people of Balochistan are being denied their rights and it is a question of distributive justice which is not guaranteed now by the illegal contract of CPEC.


As in my former speeches regarding the legal aspects of CPEC, I maintain that this contract should be renegotiated by the participation of freely elected Balochs and the Covenant should be informed about all illegal aspects of CPEC which contradict the rights of the Covenant Pakistan signed and ratified.


Respected Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for your attention to my speech.


Speech at side event during 35th Regular session of UN Human Rights Council on 12 June 2017

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