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What are Security Threats to China’s BRI Project in Pakistan?

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Islamabad

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a multi-billion dollar project, was launched in 2013 and was soon touted as a major expansion of the Belt and Road initiative. Pakistanis hoped that this new development program would bring about change and turn the country into a regional center.

Rising terrorist threats to Chinese nationals living in Pakistan and differences over loan payments have hindered the progress of Islamabad and Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative projects, the Voice of America (VOA) reported. officials and critics.

The investment has helped Islamabad improve the weak national transport and power sectors and build trade routes linking landlocked western China to the strategically located Pakistani deepwater Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea.

Pakistan has reaped many benefits from the projects, they have created nearly 200,000 direct local jobs, built over 1,400 kilometres of highways and roads, and added 8,000 MW of electricity to the national grid, helping the country recover from years of power cuts. The blackout is over. 230 million people.

Officials in both countries say the CPEC has attracted more than USD 25 billion in Chinese direct investment, which is expected to rise to USD 62 billion by 2030, when all CPEC projects, including several industrial sectors, are nearing completion.

But recently there have been militant attacks on Chinese interests in Pakistan. Opponents highlighted tensions over security and other issues arising from the economic undertaking at a ceremony on Wednesday to mark the 10th anniversary of the CPEC.

“China hopes Pakistan will resolutely and effectively crack down on various terrorist organizations in the country and ensure the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry told its counterpart Shehbaz Sharif at a meeting. Two were held in Paris late last month.

In his talks with Sharif in Beijing last November, Chinese President Xi Jinping also stressed the need for the security of Chinese personnel and projects by Pakistan.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, chairman of the Defense Committee of Pakistan’s upper house of parliament, told VOA, “They (the Chinese) believe that this security issue is becoming an obstacle in taking the CPEC forward.”

In July 2021, nine Chinese nationals and three Pakistani colleagues were killed in a suicide car bombing in northwestern Pakistan. The victims were working on the Chinese-funded Dasu hydroelectric project. According to the VOA, there was no claim of responsibility for the attack.

Pakistani investigators suspected at the time that terrorists affiliated with the anti-China East Turkestan Islamic Movement were behind the deadly bombing. Authorities have not shared details of their investigation into the attack since then.

In April 2022, a female suicide bomber blew herself up near a van in Karachi, killing three Chinese teachers and their local driver. Foreigners taught at the Confucius Institute in the largest city of Pakistan.

The Baloch Liberation Army, an outlawed organization operating from Pakistan’s Balochistan province, took credit for plotting that attack. The province, rich in natural resources, houses the Gwadar port and several other CPEC projects.

Sources told VOA on condition of anonymity that the increasing number of attacks has prompted China to ask its citizens and diplomats in Pakistan to strictly limit their activities and not visit the northwestern city of Peshawar and Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. asked to do, because they are not authorized. To talk to the media.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s economic troubles have deepened in recent years, with some critics citing CPEC investment as a main contributing factor. According to the VOA report, the Sharif government on Friday averted the risk of an imminent default by securing the IMF’s short-term bailout agreement of US$3 billion, subject to the approval of the fund’s board, later this month.

“CPEC has failed to live up to its hype and much hype about it,” said Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington. Have seen it happen.”, told VOA in written comments.

“But in recent years, a combination of Pakistani economic tensions and Chinese security concerns have slowed the pace of the CPEC.

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