Security key to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor success

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/14 23:18:39

With the departure of a Chinese ship from the renovated port of Gwadar in Balochistan Province, Pakistan on Sunday, the long-awaited economic corridor, a mega cooperation project between the two countries worth $46 billion, has become realized after having been agreed in 2013.

Gwadar port is a key part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which seeks to transform Pakistan into a regional hub of trade, commerce and manufacturing and facilitate China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative.

Pakistan calls it a "game changer," given its strategic significance to both China and Pakistan and countries beyond the region. Particularly, Pakistan aims to rejuvenate its own ailing economy and raise its strategic profile in the world by working closely with a rising power.

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. One day before the loaded Chinese ship inaugurated the new trade route, a bomb in another part of Balochistan killed at least 52 people and wounded 106 at a Muslim shrine in an attack later claimed by the Islamic State.

It is not known if the attack has anything to do with operations at Gwadar. But a blast in Balochistan's capital of Quetta in August that killed at least 95 people was believed by Pakistani officials to be an attempt by the "enemies of the country" to "sabotage" the CPEC.

This has sent a security alarm to the ongoing CPEC project. Balochistan, the largest and most impoverished province of Pakistan, is labeled the "troubled heart" of the CPEC by some media, as modern geopolitics has provided new incentives to the long-standing violence there.

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 destabilize Pakistan.

Meanwhile, dissatisfaction has been fueled 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. 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.

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