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IMRAN KHAN’S VISIT TO CHINA: IS IT JUST FOR BAILOUT PACKAGE OR MORE THAN THAT?

This may be a rare in any Nation’s history that the head of a state prefers to visit other countries when his own country burns in a fire fast turning into an inferno. Well, Imran Khan has done something similar.

What is more surprising is that even after having pre-empted the consequences of threats by various radical groups after the Asia Bibi verdict which forced him to call for an address to entire Pakistan, yet he chose to fly out to Beijing the next day. Such a move by the premiere of a nation can have only two justifications; He was sure things won’t go worse or the prevailing economic crisis outweighed all other worries.

Pakistan is on the verge of financial breakdown is an established fact and urgently needs to plug the shortfall after its foreign exchange reserves plunged more than 40% this year and value of its currency is nose-diving with an ever-widening current account deficit. It managed $6 billion from Saudi Arabia and have approached IMF for a bailout to the tune of $8 billion, though it looks less likely to materialize in the background of protests by India and concern by IMF about the possible utilization of the bailout money.

India’s concerns are that the main component of the bailout package will go to the payment of the debts Pakistan owes to China, mainly for the investment in CPEC, which is considered to be an illegal project passing over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), a sovereign Indian territory. The total cost of projects in PoK in which China is involved is estimated to be $13.4 billion. Also the money will be used in constructions of various dams and hydroelectric projects in PoK in collusion with China, which for certain will escalate the existing problems. Further, FATF standing on its stance of putting Pakistan on grey list is sufficient to convince IMF for a non grant. This leaves Pakistan with just one option; ask China.

But is that all Pakistan wants from China? Having left high&dry by its old ally USA, and FATF putting it back on grey list, Pakistan needs much more than just the bailout package.  So the urgency of Imran Khan’s visit under present circumstances can be well understood. However, he needs to understand that financial dealings with the Red Dragon are fraught with certain pit falls which cannot be ignored.

China on the other hand will like to use the visit to rebuild its falling clout and the credibility. It is apparent that China is losing its influence in some Southeast Asian nations like Malaysia and Myanmar. Former had halted a few Chinese projects beside Myanmar demanding new slimmed down plan for a new port. Even Pakistan had refused funding of Diamer Bhasha dam and there were reports of PTI government asking to review provisions of CPEC.

Hope that Imran Khan succeeds for whatever he wants to achieve from China, as Pakistanis are already accusing him of having fled from the country.

02 Nov 2018/Friday                                                                                         Written by Azadazraq

 

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