The Chinese seem to be a godsend for Pakistan or India. At a time when Pakistan is increasingly short on dollars and friends, China backs Pakistan like a brother, protects it like a mother, and funds us like a father with CPEC. Is this so or does it have a longer sinister plan which will help India in destroying Pakistan without waging a war.
We will see the motives of such large-heartedness of Chinese towards Pakistan and other smaller nations around the world.
The Reasons Why!
The short answer is self-interest. The Chinese certainly appreciate Pakistan for being amongst the first nations to recognise communist China. They also acknowledge the efforts of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in bridging the gap between Communist China and the West. But were these efforts worth $57 billion loans — the roundabout worth of Beijing’s China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) investment? If they are investing so much in Pakistan, there must be something they are expecting in return?
Since the terms of a contract of CPEC have remained suspiciously secret even today, one can only deduce the possible scenarios based on available information.
History of such Corridors
History shows nations which served as strategic transits for other larger rich nations rarely get promoted to the first-world status. If anything, they remained at the mercy of their benevolent creditors.
Take for instance the United States (US). They funded the Panama Canal and later carved Panama out of Columbia then invaded it twice.
Egypt had a similar experience with The British, who funded the Suez Canal and eventually annexed it. When Egypt tried to nationalise the canal, they too were invaded. This is the worst-case scenario.
It is a common practice between superpowers to willingly and knowingly indebt other nations in order to influence them. The book Confessions of an Economic Hitman exposes multiple examples of how the US systematically indebted various nations in order to use them for their own end. That included everything from exploiting their resources to dictating their votes in the United Nations (UN). This is a possibility.
“Currently, our national assets are being leveraged to secure the exuberant amount of loans, which are being used by the government to implement numerous projects. Since the majority of these projects are neither funded by the National Exchequer and are not executed by local companies either, they are not scrutinized as they should be. As it stands, we are unaware of how well Chinese loans are being utilized or what the payback strategy is?” The CPEC also seems to be a plan to trap the Pakistan Government into submission.
Debt book Diplomacy
CNN recently published an article titled on Chinese ‘debt-book diplomacy’ to spread its strategic aims in the Asia Pacific. China due to its economic prowess is sitting on the cash surplus and thus can splurge. Chinese think tanks always had a Global Ambition. As the headline indicates, China is intentionally indebting other nations for strategic purposes. The author cited the case of Sri Lanka, which recently constructed a very expensive but unsuccessful port with Chinese loans. Flustered with debt, they have handed it over to the Chinese on a 99-year lease. CPEC is also likely to go the same route.
The article also mentions tiny Pacific island-nations that, to the defiance of all logic, received billions of dollars in loans from China in last few years. The only reasonable explanation is that eventually, China will turn those seashores and ports into Naval Bases to exert its military dominance in the region. CPEC has Gwadar port which is likely to be turned into a Naval base in the future the day the Pakistan Government fails to pay up the debt.
The article also talks of Pakistan as one of the most vulnerable nations of China’s ‘debtbook diplomacy.’ Such fears have led some analysts to call China the next East India Trading Company, which conquered India essentially through clever contracts. There is a lot of merit in this oversimplified comparison. All this happening with the presence of a patriotic Deep State strongly controlled by Pakistan Army.
The real question we need to ask is, are Pakistanis like their predecessors who naively sold their entire nation to a foreign power centuries ago?
Nonetheless, if there is any nation Pakistan should be in bed then its China. They aren’t threatened by Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal because they very well know it’s actually their own. If we see superciliously we will say the following:-
- They have no interest in promoting any religious ideology inside Pakistan because they have none. However, already they have started influencing the regions where CPEC is flowing by infiltrating by marriage and following the concept of Pak-Chin plan. A much dangerous and sinister plan to Chinify entire of Pakistan.
- They have no interest in ruling Pakistan because it’s uncharacteristic of their foreign policy thus far. But a true foreign policy of a country is known to a handful of people and will not be revealed to the world and especially the targeted country which in this case is Pakistan.
- China is its neighbour and the next global superpower. Yes, it is good for China but how does Pakistan fit in is not clear at all.
- They are also more than capable of assisting Pakistan in solving some of its most pressing problems such as the lack of dams, energy shortages, and obsolete infrastructure. China is already indebting Pakistan to attain leverage and control its decisions. How well is Pakistan poised to repay the loans whose documents are under wraps is to be seen in the future.
Will CPEC ever benefit Pakistan
CPEC has all the potential to revive Pakistan like the Marshall Plan did for Europe after WWII. This is the best-case scenario but can only happen if Pakistan safeguards its rights and negotiates to ensure maximum benefit.
It starts with transparency. Currently, our national assets are being leveraged to secure the exuberant amount of loans, which are being used by the government to implement numerous projects. The interest rates offered by China is very high. Since the majority of these projects are neither funded by the National Exchequer not executed by local companies, but by Chinese companies and they are also not scrutinized as they should be. As it stands, people of Pakistan are unaware of how well Chinese loans are being utilized or what the payback strategy is. Whether we’re being colonized, exploited, or saved all depends on the terms of our agreements which are known only to Pakistan Army Generals.
The subcontinent has been conquered and pillaged by just about every foreign force in the last five thousand years. First came the Aryans and then the Greeks, Persians, Pashtuns, Moguls and finally the British. Pakistan is now a well-armed democracy. Its resources no longer belong to the Sultans or Nawabs or Lords. They belong to the people who must now come out and dutifully defend it from being pillaged.
08 Jan 2019/Tuesday Written by Mohd Tahir Shafi