After receiving stern, as well as a violent pushback from the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) — the tame duo of Pakistan and China have been forced to shelve their China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC plans for the southwestern province of Balochistan, especially the Gwadar Port and turn their attention to the city of Karachi.
Reportedly, in the recently held 10th Joint Cooperation Committee meeting of the CPEC after a gap of almost two years, it was decided that the CCP will pour direct investment of $3.5 billion in Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone or KCCDZ.
Another ego project of Jinping?
According to an Asia Nikkei report, the project will attempt to add new berths to Karachi port, develop a new fisheries port and a 640-hectare trade zone on the western backwater marshland of the Karachi Port Trust. The project also envisages building a harbour bridge connecting the port with the nearby Manora islands. The proposed development also appears to transform the fishing harbour on the port’s West Wharf – a jam-packed marina for small fishing vessels – into a new waterfront commercial district.
Prime Minister Imran Khan termed the inclusion of the Karachi Comprehensive Coastal Development Zone in CPEC a “game-changer.” He tweeted: “[This project] will clean up our marine habitat for fishermen, develop [20,000] low-income housing units & present opportunities for investors. Will put [Karachi] at par with developed port cities.”
Inclusion of Karachi Comprehensive Coastal Development Zone in CPEC is game changer. Will cleanup our marine habitat for fishermen, develop 20k low income housing units & present opportunities for investors. Will put Khi at par with developed port cities
Well done @MaritimeGovPK
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) September 26, 2021
Baloch forcing China to capitulate
While the business shifts to Karachi, China has been forced to recalibrate its dominations plans in the region. Beijing wanted to avoid sailing around South Asia and wanted to reach the Middle East, African and European markets directly through road and rail travel to the Gwadar port and further shipping from the Baloch port city. This is why the CPEC and the Gwadar port were at the core of China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
However, the sustained pressure by the Baloch’s has forced the Chinese to capitulate as the Xi Jinping regime accesses new horizons to wield its influence in the region. The experts, however, have cast aspersions over the feasibility of the new project as well. After trying to develop Gwadar port and its surrounding regions spectacularly bombed, it can be ascertained that Karachi might be a similar failed attempt, for BRI and CPEC have been notoriously infamous for ghost projects.
These developments come barely a couple of months after the BLA freedom fighters had killed several Chinese engineers. As reported by TFI, in August, the Baloch freedom fighters detonated a suicide bomb adjacent to a vehicle carrying Chinese nationals in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.
China, most hated after Pakistan by Balochs
The strike took place in the Baloch Ward area of Gwadar, targeting Chinese engineers near the construction site of a road that is part of the CPEC. According to the Balochistan Post, nine Chinese nationals had been blown to smithereens in the blast.
Ever since Pakistan sold Balochistan to China and the paper dragon put in multi-billion-dollar investments in the region, especially in the Gwadar port, the native Balochs have been baying for the blood of Pakistanis and Chinese alike.
A large number of Chinese experts and workers are employed in Gwadar and the surrounding areas to complete various projects under the CPEC, thus they have become walking targets for the Baloch freedom fighters to target and to send their message across.
According to The Print report, at least 13 people, including nine Chinese, were also killed in a similar attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the month of July. The bus carrying Chinese engineers and workers to the site of the under-construction Dasu Dam exploded on July 14. The bus fell into a deep ravine after the explosion in the Upper Kohistan district.
After Pakistan, China is the second most hated enemy of the people of Balochistan, and in recent years, attacks on Chinese nationals, including the Chinese consulate, have increased.
Karachi might not be a safe investment
And if Pakistan-China thought that Karachi might be a safe space then it is sadly mistaken. On November 23, 2018, three heavily armed fighters from the Baloch Liberation Army targeted the Chinese consulate in Karachi.
Moreover, as reported by TFI last year, the Karachi Stock Exchange was attacked by four-armed Baloch freedom fighters, who hurled grenades at the entrance and entered the premises. The fighters were armed with grenades and automatic rifles. They were also in possession of a large amount of ammunition and essential supplies, suggesting that they planned a long-drawn siege over the complex.
If Beijing still doesn’t receive the message and continues its illegal occupation of the native land of the Balochistan, the attacks and their frequency will only increase in the future, with the freedom fighters looking to target Karachi, the commercial district of the country.