No Celebration Yet in Pak Over China’s Economic Corridor in Gwadar

Politicians in Pakistan complain that changes in the proposal hurt the prospects of two provinces.

Updated
World
2 min read
A ship is seen anchored at Pakistan’s Gwadar deep-sea port on the Arabian Sea. (Photo: Reuters)

Politicians in Pakistan complained on Wednesday that a plan for projects worth $46 billion to be built with Chinese funding has been unfairly changed to the disadvantage of two provinces.

Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the plan in Pakistan on Monday. It involves energy and infrastructure projects linking the neighbours’ economies and creating an “economic corridor” between Pakistan’s Gwadar port and China’s western Xinjiang region.

Chinese Premier Xi Jinxing to unveil a $46 billion economic corridor linking the strategic Gwadar Port in Balochistan to China’s Xinjiang province. 
Chinese Premier Xi Jinxing to unveil a $46 billion economic corridor linking the strategic Gwadar Port in Balochistan to China’s Xinjiang province. 

Gwadar is on the Arabian Sea in Baluchistan, Pakistan’s poorest and least populous province, where rebels have waged a separatist insurgency for decades complaining that richer provinces unfairly exploit their mineral and gas resources.

The insurgency has raised doubts about the corridor, a network of roads, railways and pipelines. To minimise the risk, government planners have shifted its route east, to bypass as much of Baluchistan as possible, Baluchistan politicians said.

A view of the Gwadar port in Baluchistan in Pakistan. (Photo: Reuters)
A view of the Gwadar port in Baluchistan in Pakistan. (Photo: Reuters)

We will not accept this decision and will resist this move very strongly. It will be a big injustice.
– Hamid Khan Achakzai, Minister for Planning and Development

There would be a “strong reaction” to the change which would only benefit Pakistan’s richest province. The change is meant to give maximum benefit to Punjab, which is already considered the privileged province.
– Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, former provincial minister

The route change would also mean the proposed corridor would largely bypass the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. – Imran Khan, PTI Chief

The project should not fall victim to provincial rivalry. This impression that the route has been changed is wrong. Turning this into an issue of conflict between provinces is tantamount to sabotaging billions of dollars of investment.
– Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning

The complaints highlight the political risks for a plan China sees as a key part of its aim to forge “Silk Road” land and sea ties to markets in the Middle East and Europe.

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