On 16 May, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, arrived in Beijing for security talks. Press reports related that security of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a major topic of discussion.
Some 12,000 to 13,000 Chinese engineers and laborers are working on the corridor projects in Pakistan. An additional 16,000 to 17,000 more are expected as the project progresses. The corridor area is rife with rebels and bandits and Pakistan committed one infantry division to protect Chinese workers involved in construction.
CPEC is a $46 billion infrastructure project that features a network of railways, roads and pipelines. The 2,400-kilometer long economic corridor will link far western China to Pakistan’s southwestern deep water port of Gwadar. The most important aspect of it is that it will enable China to import cargos and oil without relying on the Malacca and Singapore Straits.
The CEPC project is a key component of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” initiative. is expected to include industrial parks, energy projects, and infrastructure projects that will bring a significant number of job opportunities for the Pakistani people.
The Chinese pushed Pakistan to cancel a US F-16 deal, and they did last week. Now they plan to buy fighters from China. Why is the US providing foreign aid to Pakistan? I have asked that question since the Soviet Union collapsed and nobody can explain why beyond ‘access’ to Pakistani leaders…which we’d likely have aid or no aid. Pakistan is a very bad actor on the world stage and is not a friend to the US, though its leaders are appreciative (sort of) for their large Swiss bank accounts.
I don’t know whether a Trump presidency would bring a more enlightened relationship between the US and Pakistan. Something nags me that it might not – but it should.