By Mohsin Saleem Ullah
It wasn’t until that Balochistan was confronting the insurgencies and armed conflicts rooted by the British Empire in the late 19th century. Nowadays the apprehension of annexation has struck the oppressed Baloch of Balochistan because soon their ancient land will be taken over by the Chinese: approximately six times more Chinese will be accommodated in the Gwadar city by the year 2023, considering the Baloch presence in Gwadar today, as revealed by a new report.
According to the recent report, published in The News International newspaper on 24. 10.2017, a mega housing project “China-Pak Hills” has been announced by the China-Pak Investment Corporation (CPIC) at a press conference held in London. The CEO of the corporation, Jian Zheng, disclosed the plans to finance $500 million in the first phase of a much debatable housing project China-Pak Hills to reside almost half a million white collars Chinese by 2023. CPIC has ventured with the multi-billion state-owned Top International Engineering Corporation (TIEC) to complete the unprecedented development project in three phases, which stretches over 10 million square feet. However, the federal has rebutted the claims made by the reports that the Gwadar Port Authority has permitted, any project China Pak Hills to develop – calling it bogus. Nevertheless, the CPIC has put forward documentary evidence; depicting the possession of “no objection” certificate with the company from the concerned authority for the International Port City Project.
Gwadar District, which borders the strategic channels of Hormuz, is in the entire dominance of Pakistan army that safeguards all the entry and exits points. With an adrenaline surge, corps commander Lt. General Amir Riaz the head of the southern command of the Pakistan’s army, is insulating the over applauded initiative “One Belt One Road” of Chinese President Xi Jinping – exalted as new Mao Tse Tung in the Communist Party of China. Both the armies of Pakistan and China promise to transform Gwadar on the lines of Shenzen- a major city in Guangdong Province, China. This was once stricken with poverty in 1979, but at present, a model to symbolize strengthens Chinese economy. Beijing reiterates the slogan of Gwadar’s development by dignifying it with the title ‘Gateway City’ under the $62 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) contract, though the concerns of Baloch freedom fighters have coerced them to pledge to resist and obstruct the Chinese plans to occupy Gwadar; their apprehensions have gradually paved the way to gain the support of Washington DC.
The local Baloch communities are vexed and engage in illicit activities to halt the development. A leader of the Baloch National movement and Ex- fisheries minister Kachkol Ali, who is living in exile in Norway, tweeted “China is violating Article 8 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” The aforementioned article of the UN Declaration iterates the native community and individual’s prerogative not to be subjected to coerced assimilation or shatter their cultural norms, however, oblige States to provide effective mechanisms to prevent any action which may deprive the indigenous people of their integrity and divest them out of their realm, resources and region.
New Delhi is simmering over Beijing’s plan to extend its influence through Gwadar Port, which it considers as a section of the Indian Ocean, but timid to invest in a course of action to counter them. It is hard to ignore, the United States’ deep interest in the warm waters of the Arabian or Persian Gulf sea because it has always held an immense importance to them; inconceivable to allow China to take over Gwadar easily. Americans have wakened up their government to take prompt notice of the Chinese designs. The Director of the American Friends of Balochistan, Jane Eastwood Weisner said: “Chinese has built the Gwadar Port at an enormous level to dock eight Chinese battleships.” She reiterated, US lack of interest in China’s expansion, by bluntly saying that the US may have offered to help hand to the Baloch people to gain its freedom from Pakistan. “Surprisingly, China is developing islands in the South China Sea to sway the region and the Silk Sea Road is being built to boost economic growth and Chinese naval power.” Moreover, Weiner- a liberal democrat indicted China of eyeing Balochistan’s copious oil and gas reserves, minerals and priceless ores like Uranium.
“The under construction lucrative Corridor within the country runs across occupied Balochistan. The Chinese have extracted billions of dollars of gold out of the Balochistan mines.” She further added, to urge Americans to recall where the US devised power is flourishing- China. “The Dragon is Eying the world like never before.” Weiner advocates the slogan “United State First should mean, its Interest First!” Prof Carol Christine, Associate Professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service USA, believes China is maneuvering Pakistan to cripple India, terming the $62 billion economic transformative project, as China-Pakistan Exploitation Corridor. Christine, at many events, has spoken out against the dangers of CPEC in Balochistan related events held in Washington, D.C. In her recent article for the Foreign Policy magazine she wrote, the local Baloch community is displeased with the development plan because it will predominantly alter the demography of the area. Prior to the commencement of Gwadar’s expansion, the estimated population of the region was 70,000, however, If the project continues to reach an attainment, the populace would be around 2 million – most of whom will be non-native residents, though many penniless Baloch has already been dispersed from the area. Whereas back in Balochistan, since the commencement of the project, frequent attacks have been made by the ardent Baloch militants- lack funds and training, against the Chinese personnel amongst other labour, though backfired.
The chairman, US joint chiefs of staff, Gen Joseph Dunford, recently stated at a congressional hearing of the US Senate’s armed services committee, earlier in the month of October, that the United State defence establishment has already rejected One Belt One Road initiative.
“In a globalized world, there are many projects on belts and roads, but none of the nation should put itself into a position of dictating ‘one belt, one road’.”He further added, the OBOR also Pass-through disputed territory- Gilgit Baltistan, and “I think, that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate,” apparently referring to India’s position on CPEC. Furthermore, Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, in a separate address before the House of Representatives armed services committee, said that China, through its regional cooperations, is “focused on curtailing our ability to project power” and is “weakening our hold in the Indo-Pacific region”.
Fanatical merely on the title of One Belt and One Road obscure the real ground behind US anxiety with the initiative. Jim’s statements depict an idealized notion of complete dominance of US across the world.
(The author is Lahore based journalist associated with Daily Times.)