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Chinese President’s significant visit to Pakistan

By Ansar M Bhatti  –      

Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan on Apr 20-21 is rightly being considered as significant in many ways as both sides made solemn pledges to give new dimensions to their relations. As many as 51 projects were signed, most of which would be completed in next 10 to 15 years. Most of these projects include development of infrastructure including a network of road and railway tracks. Projects such as metro train also include in the list of signed MoUs. The total outlay of these projects hence amounts to USD 45 billion, which of course is a huge sum.
It merits a mention here that these 46 billion dollars would be invested in Pakistan on various projects run by different Chinese companies. Even the workforce will come from China. The volume of this work force is going to be huge that is why Pakistan Army has created a special division comprising senior military officers who will take care of the Chinese workforce. As reports suggest there shall be very limited opportunities available to Pakistani labour to get some jobs in these projects.
If all these projects are materialized within the stipulated period of time, we will certainly have an improved and modernized infrastructure at our disposal, albeit only in Punjab for majority of the projects are Punjab-specific. According to Planning Commission statement $ 28 billion would kick start early harvest projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The projects of $ 17 billion would be carried out as soon as the required processes and formalities are completed. The planning minister says CPEC would link Kashgar in Western China with Gwadar Port through a mesh of communication network comprising a world class seaport, commercial sea lines, an airport, highways, railways, fibre optic cables and oil and gas pipelines.
Looking at historical perspective of relations between Pakistan and China it is revealed that Pakistan’s approach towards China has always been emotional while Chinese tended to treat us rationally. Chinese, or for that matter, even Turkey, focus more on building economic linkages with a view to improving their economies back home while unfortunately we focus more on building personal relations.
It is because of our emotional approach towards China that we had to face an embarrassing situation when China refused to be on our side on the Kargil conflict. China had politely declined to help Pakistan when we sought Chinese. We should not expect that China will come to our rescue or help in our bilateral conflicts. The Chinese president even in his speech to the parliament on April 21 made it candid clear that China strictly adheres to policy of non-interference in others matters. If we assess Chinese President’s assertion keeping in view the Kashmir issue, then we should realize that Chinese would continue to be neutral on this issue and therefore we should not expect much from them.
President Xi Jinping did not make a mention of Kashmir in his address to the Parliament mainly because of fact that they do not meddle in bilateral relations of two countries, although Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in his remarks before inviting the Chinese president for address, duly mentioned Kashmir as the root cause of tension between Pakistan and India. He perhaps wished that the respected guest should say a few words about this issue also however the Chinese president rather chose to deliver his written speech.
The Indian prime minister is expected to be in China in May therefore the Chinese president perhaps did not want to send any hostile message to New Delhi. And thirdly, there is a segment in Chinese echelons of power that believes that India has more legitimacy over Kashmir as compared with Pakistan therefore if China supports Kashmir independence or even a plebiscite, it may cause serious internal problems because Xinjiang province of China has been a center of separatist movements especially from the Uyghur community.
In his address, the Chinese president however talked about Afghanistan issue in detail and vowed to work with Pakistan and other regional countries to win peace in Afghanistan. Chinese are of the view that whatever happens in their troubled province of Xinjiang is directly or indirectly linked to Afghanistan therefore peace in Afghanistan will certainly help Chinese overpower the ‘rogue elements’ spearheading the separatist movements from time to time.
Summing up, Chinese president’s visit seeks to open up new avenues of opportunities for Pakistan. Huge Chinese investment at a time when Pakistan is faced with a plethora of security as well as other problems, and foreign investors are reluctant to come to Pakistan, is ostensibly a good omen. Pakistan government ought to reach out to other countries also to ask them to come to Pakistan and invest here. There is no doubt that Pakistan is a country of vast opportunities both for foreigners and local people. A little bit of government attention towards improvement of security situation can really do the wonders and fetch huge foreign investments.

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