The recent bomb attack in Pakistan’s troubled Balochistan province, a day ahead of the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from Gwadar port, has raised a “security alarm” for the USD 46 billion project, state-run Chinese media said today.
“With the departure of a Chinese ship from the renovated port of Gwadar in Balochistan Province, Pakistan on Sunday, the long-awaited China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a mega cooperation project has become realised after having been agreed in 2013,” an oped article in the official daily Global Times said today.
This is the first time official Chinese media made a reference to the formal launch of the CPEC, which was kept under wraps until it was inaugurated at ceremony by Pakistani and Chinese officials at the Gwadar port.
Significantly the daily carried three articles today on the subject, one on security concerns over the CPEC and two on criticising India’s reservations in taking part in China’s Silk Road projects in which CPEC is a part.
Ahead of the launch of the CPEC, a bomb in another part of Balochistan killed at least 52 people and wounded 106 at a sufi shrine in an attack later claimed by the Islamic State.
“This has sent a security alarm to the ongoing CPEC project. Balochistan, the largest and most impoverished province of Pakistan, is labelled the ‘troubled heart’ of the CPEC by some media, as modern geopolitics has provided new incentives to the long-standing violence there,” the article said.
Last month, suicide attackers targeted a police training school in which 61 people were killed over 165 others injured. Pakistan officials blamed the attack on Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni terrorist outfit targeting Shias in the country.
“The Pakistan government claims that Baloch separatists receive training in camps in Afghanistan. It also accuses foreign terrorist forces of backing Baloch insurgents and working to destabilise Pakistan,” it said.
“Meanwhile, dissatisfaction has been fuelled in Balochistan as it was alleged that the CPEC will not benefit the province and the fruits will actually go to the Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province which the Baloch insurgents accuse of ‘looting’ their resources,” it said, referring differences within Pakistan over the project.
“While the goals of the project are grand, some hostile overseas forces also have their eyes on the route. What matters more is not the signing of deals, but the timely execution of the deals, which requires security guarantees along the route,” it said.
“Among the complicated geopolitical landscape, both domestic and regional, the CPEC is an easy target. Pakistan and China should work closely to address the security threat,” it said.
A second article on the CPEC in the daily while praising Pakistan’s open attitude to Chinese investments criticised India for not taking part in Belt & Road (B&R) projects.