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April 26, 2015

Commentary: Pakistan-China economic opportunities

By Sardar Rizvi [Terminal X Desk] - The investment in Pakistan over 46 billion dollars would far exceed the U.S spending in Pakistan and will result in a very fruitful way for not only the two countries, Pakistan and China but the entire region including Iran and Afghanistan. The United States has given $31 billion to Pakistan since 2002, and approximately more than 10.5 billion dollars from it have been utilized on the security. U.S and China maybe a economic competitor in Asia but both demand a stability in Pakistan for countering terrorism and cooperation in Afghanistan for stabilizing Afghanistan, therefore U.S cooperation would still be more than welcomed by Pakistan in departments of security and other affairs which would be in interests of both U.S and Pakistan and this would strengthen Pak-US friendship on equal terms and open further opportunities for U.S to invest in Pakistan and regain its importance in the region.

As soon as the sanctions are lift from Iran, Iran would be able to connect itself with the oil and gas pipeline from Gwadar to Kashgar.And Afghanistan would be developed and connected from the Karakoram Highway towards the Central Asian Republics which would track Afghanistan on progressive economic and stabilized country.

China will provide up to $37 billion in investment for the energy projects to generate 16,400 MW of power, which will overcome the energy crisis in Pakistan which is the largest obstacle between the boom of Pakistani economy.

Concessional loans will cover nearly $10 billion of infrastructure projects, which would connect Gwadar with Kashgar and may give exits to Afghanistan to connect CAR's from Afghanistan.

China aims to develop a "Silk Route" which would tie Europe with Middle East for economic trade through Chinese route and connect Indian Ocean with Atlantic Ocean.

Pakistan and China are pivotal for each other now. This huge project of Gwadar and Chinese economic aim has further strengthened Sino-Pak Friendship than it was ever before.

Every corner of Pakistan is likely to benefit from this brilliantly designed plan, from Gwadar to Gilgit Baltistan from Quetta to Kasur and from Karachi to Peshawar and whole Azad and Jammu Kashmir. Deprived provinces like Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan province of Pakistan will benefit not only because of the trade but also from the tourism of its mind blowing natural beauty. Gilgit-Baltistan full of Mountain, valleys, lakes, it's colorful culture and the well educated public which has despite of being deprived for years, Gilgit-Baltistan have promoted peace and education and has achieved the highest literacy rate with 80% than any other province of Pakistan, It is usually said "Heaven on the roof of the earth".  Balochistan has wide range of Mountainous ranges, Mud Volcanoes can be scene in different parts of Balochistan. Gwadar itself is in Balochistan province.  

Balochistan of Pakistan and Xinjiang of China are the largest, least developed and restive provinces. Pakistan's Balochistan province and China's Xinjiang provinces face similar problems and also share similar importance for the two nations.
Both are facing separatist movements, and both make up a route connecting CAR's with the Arabian Sea via Xinjiang to Gwadar port. The most dangerous and interrupting threats regarding this route are the separatist movement and insurgency in these provinces.

Pakistan on its hand will have to deal with the insurgency in Balochistan province of Pakistan from where the route has been designed to pass through and connect with China and deal with the security of Chinese workers by every means possible.

Though the Chinese President Xi has applauded the efforts of Pakistan Army in the operation Zarb-e-Azb in the north tribal areas of Pakistan against the terrorists, yet there are still doubts of Muslim separatists in Xinjiang province of China (where the silk route is designed to be connected from Pakistan) teaming up with the militants in Pakistan.

It is suggested that a joint force between Pakistan and China be established for the security of the silk route from Gwadar till Kashgar which would monitor the route from anti-narcotics and arms smuggling and defend the route from any terrorism plot.

Other than the security factor on Pakistani side, Pakistan will have to assure China of a transparent and anti-corruption mechanism for the utilization of the huge Chinese aid.

There is a menace of corruption in Pakistan and it may not give any doubt to our friendship with China which would cause misunderstanding between the two great friends. Therefore it is suggested that the Chinese investment may be utilized in a very transparent manner, A mechanism should be designed in which the Chinese funds would be allocated in the reserves, and the funds would only be released by the Pakistani goverment on the recommendation of the Chinese authorities working on the projects in Pakistan.

Pakistan has signed to give 40 years Gwadar port's management authority to China which may give Pakistan's armed forces to tackle and handle the internal and external security threats mutually with China and give China an opportunity to make a naval base in Indian Ocean which China was keen to achieve in order to further expand its influence in the entire region. On the other hand Pakistan which is occupied by the internal security threats, may release some stress from the naval border securities and more effectively focus on the internal security threats. Therefore giving China a naval base and management of Gwadar port authority for 40 years could be in the interests of both the nations and will certainly outcome fruitfully.

There is a also a change in route plan from Gwadar to Kashgar within Pakistan which may cause anger and frustration within the people of the restive provinces of Pakistan, KPK and Balochistan where already insurgency and terrorism is a major problem. This route change may not be a clever move, this plan would profit the most rich province of Pakistan, Punjab. It is said by some member of the parliament of Pakistan that this change in the route plan has been decided due to the security threats in the province, but on the other hand it is a stronger opinion of the overall public of Pakistan including the major opposition parties in Punjab province that this route change is because of the selfish and short sighted political leadership, criticizing the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif who's also the Chief Minister of the Punjab province.

The old route plan from Gwadar to Kashgar through Balochistan and KPK would also be more suitable for the trade as it is the shortest, though exits into Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan connecting with the national highway would further benefit. Therefore it is recommended that the route change must be halted and the old route plan must be implemented immediately prevent hatred among the people of Pakistan on provincial basis.

Indian Prime Minister's trip is expected to China this month before 26th of May.  India is willing to be a part of  to China’s proposed Maritime Silk Route and India is interested in Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar in order to economically balance the Gwadar route with this proposal though it will not be as profitable as Gwadar project because of future oil pipeline route and huge trade from the Indian Ocean and CAR's. The longstanding and contentious border issues between India and China would also be discussed, India is dominated by China not only economically but also militarily with whom it shares 3,488-km even longer than Pakistan with whom it shares 9,212-km long border and has fought three wars since their independence.

It is also expected that as soon as the sanctions are lift over from Iran, another designed route which will connect Pak-Iran-Turkey will be signed, this route will connect Asia with Europe which extraordinarily boost the economies of these regional states, this route would be the alternate route for regional trade. For this project Russia may have the opportunity to invest and before that play a diplomatic role between the internal conflict in the Sunni belt between Iran and Syria to show it's political influence in the region too.

The secret talks between Russia and the other project affiliated countries have already started, and it is expected that a fruitful outcome may come in the next few months.

The writer is an internee analyst at Terminal X who is interested in Pakistan's national affairs and regional geopolitics. He is based in Kahror Pakka, district Lodhran, Pakistan and can be reached at

February 4, 2015

Jordan executes 2 Al-Qaeda prisoners after Daesh kills pilot

This television screengrab shows Sajida al-Rishawi, one of the two prisoners executed by Jordan. —AP/Jordanian television

Amman (Al Jazeera): Jordan has begun executing fighters on death row as part of an "earth-shattering" response to the burning alive of one of its fighter pilots by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

State TV says two Iraqi prisoners on death row hanged in retaliation for ISIL's burning alive of Moaz al-Kassasbeh.

Just hours after a video emerged online on Tuesday purporting to show First-Lieutenant Moaz al-Kassasbeh engulfed in flames, a security official said executions would begin the next day.

Two Iraqis - Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be female suicide bomber, and Ziad al-Karbouli - were the first prisoners to be sent to the gallows at daybreak on Wednesday.

"The death sentence will be carried out on a group of jihadists, starting with Rishawi, as well as Iraqi al-Qaeda operative Ziad al-Karbouli and others who attacked Jordan's interests," an official told the AFP news agency.

Five other individuals on death row could also be executed.

The convicts had been moved to al-Suwaqa Jail, where executions in Jordan are typically carried out, a family member of one of the convicts told Al Jazeera's Nisreen el-Shamayleh on Tuesday.

King Abdullah II, who was visiting Washington DC as the video came to light, recorded a televised address to his shocked and outraged nation.

'Earth-shattering response'

Abdullah, who was once in the military himself, described Kassasbeh as a hero and pledged to take the battle to ISIL fighters, who have executed several captives on camera in recent months, provoking worldwide revulsion.

"Jordan's response will be earth-shattering," Mohammed Momani, information minister, said on television, while the army and government pledged to avenge Kassasbeh's murder.
"Whoever doubted the unity of the Jordanian people, we will prove them wrong."

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Abdel Bari Atwan, a Middle East analyst, said the killing of Kassasbeh was "unprecedented".

"It's a very clear message and they are trying to show maximum brutality," he said, adding that ISIL was not interested in negotiations.

"They are looking to terrorise."

US President Barack Obama, who hosted Abdullah in an Oval Office meeting, led widespread international condemnation of the latest murder, decrying the "cowardice and depravity" of ISIL.

"The president and King Abdullah reaffirmed that the vile murder of this brave Jordanian will only serve to steel the international community's resolve to destroy ISIL," a US National Security Council spokesperson said after the White House meeting.

The Obama administration earlier reaffirmed its intention to give Jordan $3bn in security aid over the next three years.

Kassasbeh was captured in December when his F-16 fighter jet crashed over northern Syria on a mission that was part of the US-led coalition air campaign against ISIL.

Jordanian state television suggested he was killed on January 3, before ISIL offered to spare his life and free a Japanese journalist in return for Rishawi's release.

The country's military had officially informed Kassasbeh's family of his death, Al Jazeera's el-Shamayleh reported from Amman on Tuesday.

The White House would not speculate on whether the video of Kassasbeh's killing was released to coincide with Abdullah's visit to Washington.

International condemnation

David Cameron, UK prime minister, called the murder "sickening", while Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, labelled it an "appalling act".

The release of the video came after ISIL beheaded two Japanese hostages within a week.
Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, condemned Kassasbeh's burning as "unforgivable".

The highly choreographed 22-minute footage shows Kassasbeh at a table recounting coalition operations against ISIL, with flags from the various Western and Arab countries in the alliance projected in the background.

It then shows Kassasbeh dressed in an orange jumpsuit and surrounded by armed and masked ISIL fighters in camouflage.

It cuts to him standing inside a cage and apparently soaked in petrol before a masked fighter uses a torch to light a trail of flame that runs to the cage and burns him alive.
The video also offered rewards for the killing of other "crusader" pilots.

After Kassasbeh's capture, activists in Jordan launched a number of campaigns on social-media networks to demonstrate their solidarity with him, including a Twitter and Facebook campaign named "We are all Moaz", which called for prayers for his safety.

Other anti-ISIL campaigns include Twitter campaign #BringMuathHome, with one participant tweeting, "#BringMuathHome, he was fighting terrorists that hijacked our lands, our religion, and slaughtered people".

The hashtag "Be an eagle" was widely circulated via Facebook and Twitter to express support for Kassasbeh, and Facebook pages such as "We are all pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh" drew thousands of supporters and activists.

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