Beijing’s priority is to develop the sleepy Baloch fishing port of Gwadar, to project its commercial and naval influence further west in garb of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). But kidnappings, drive-by shootings and bomb attacks in the past few weeks and months offer a chilling warning that China will have to pay a high price for a deep-water harbour near the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Violence over the past few months has left Beijing in no doubt of the risks.
It is little wonder, then, that Pakistan’s new prime minister is scrambling to convince the Chinese that their investments are safe. On only his third day in office, on August 3, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met the Chinese ambassador to reassure him that Beijing has no reason to worry about its $62 billion spending plans, earmarked for the project CPEC.
Chronic neglect and discrimination have fuelled a violent separatist insurgency that has targeted military bases, railway lines, school teachers, and migrants, whom many believe threaten the livelihood of the native Baloch. Migrant businessmen and labour from Punjab has taken away business and jobs, which would have otherwise gone to locals.
Operation Radd ul Fasad and Khyber IV launched to provide stability to Pakistan has resulted in killing of thousands of civilians.
A prominent Pak activist Mengal, complained about the military’s heavy-handed response: “The military operation has been taken to another level. Thousands have been killed just for CPEC.”
Is cost of Pakistani blood just $ 62 billion?