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By Shaikh Moazam Khan
China is Pakistan’s times tested friend. Their bilateral relations are not limited to political. They are strategic and economical in nature. Whenever Pakistan requires Chinese help, Beijing stand shoulder to shoulder with Islamabad. This is something, which Pakistan demands when it comes to bilateral relationship of both countries. US-led war on terror left grave economic challenges for Pakistani dwindling economy. Its economy was on the verge on the collapse. At that time, it was China who come out uplift the country’s economic challenges. China provided billions of dollars to Pakistan to reshape Islamabad’s economic designs and projects.
Best part of the Pakistan-China cooperation is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its projects. President Xi Jinping of China, during his landmark visit to Pakistan in April 2015, announced the commencement of CPEC to boost up the economy of Pakistan. Under the CPEC projects, China would invest more than 60 billion dollars in various sector of Pakistan including defence. The CPEC is being viewed as game changer for Pakistan economy as it is likely to create employment in less developed areas of Pakistan such as Baluchistan. The epicentre of CPEC is Baluchistan and its surrounding areas.
The enemies of Pakistan seems unhappy with the Chinese support to Pakistan. Since the start CPEC, they are creating hurdles for Pakistan in the completion of projects. These are those states who are acting on behalf of some other countries. USA and India are major critiques of CPEC. Both countries have openly denounced these projects, terming it against the Pakistan and Indian strategic interests. US diplomat for South Asia Ms. Alice Wells is one of the staunch critique of CPEC in Trump administration. During her visit to Islamabad in 2019, she asked Pakistani authorities to stop implementation of CPEC projects. In return, she said, USA will provide Pakistan with best economic opportunities with less interest rates as compare to China. On the other hand Indian government maintains that CPEC violates their territorial integrity – a claim which is beyond reality. Despite Pakistani and Chinese offers, India refused to join the CPEC.
Some states and even media houses are actively working against the efficacy of CPEC. They are projecting that CPEC is another episode of China’s debt trap diplomacy. Their accusation are mere stories. The reality is that China is helping Pakistan unconditionally. Authorities in Beijing always wants to see prosperous and strong Pakistan. During any national disaster, Chinese government always comes first to support Islamabad economically, politically and strategically. After the criticism of these states and some other think tanks, some Western media houses are giving space to Pakistani dissidents for publication of their content, which is based on fictions. Hussein Haqqani, Taha Siddiqui, Mehar Tarar, Gul Bukhari and Ayaz Gul are among those writers who are writing extensively against the CPEC and other domestic issues of Pakistan by using mere myths and fictions. Their claims regarding Pakistan are just observations. Now, this is something inept. One shouldn’t write against the national interests of any state. For example, on 18 May 2020, former Pakistani envoy Hussein Haqqani, wrote an article in Japan based The Diplomat in which he said that there is lack of transparency in CPEC and its projects. He also wrote that the loans under CPEC consists major portion of Pakistan’s external debt. While criticizing China’s business plans, he maintained that China does business mercilessly and unscrupulously. But this is not truth at all. Contrary to the Haqqani’s claims, China helped Pakistan through thick and thin. Chinese leadership stood shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan during the economic and military crisis in the past. China helped Pakistan to acquire nuclear technology.
During military conflicts with India, China came out to support Pakistan at a time when USA refused to back Islamabad’s stance. On the energy crisis in Pakistan, Chinese government has established various power plant in the country just to make sure that there is no load shedding in the country. So these are the practical demonstration of Chinese assistance to Pakistan. These are not just news stories. On international issues, China and Pakistan kept same stance. The incumbent Chinese ambassador to Pakistan clearly said that investment and loans to Pakistan under the CPEC have lowest mark up. To protect the projects under CPEC, Pakistan Army has established Special Protection Unit (SPU) who ensure the safety of workers and routes. So, the nature of Sino-Pakistan relationship is very different. They are strategic in nature. They are not related to the incumbent government or personalities. Sino-Pakistan ties are state to state relationship. No matter who governs the country. Their nature and cooperation will never change.
In the aftermath of anti-CPEC reporting in Western and Indian Media, the so called custodian of international media houses must come forward to stop these personal observations based upon grudges and personal satisfactions. The host states also ensure the stoppage of anti-Pakistan and CPEC content in their respective newspapers. There should be a law for writing against the interests of any state especially something which is written by dissidents of any states.