Is Gwadar a toll plaza?

by Tauqeer Abbas

The advocates of CPEC refer it as a game-changer for Pakistan and this region.
In contrast, opponents including some of the leading economists remain sceptical about the impenetrability of projects under CPEC and in specific the terms and conditions of loans Pakistan is acquiring from China under this project.
In my view, the government considers CPEC to be soothing for Pakistan economy, whereas for the experts and some economists, it is another form of “East India Company”.
If CPEC is viewed from objective perspective then it is not a gift for Pakistan, indeed it is a set of complicated riddles of infrastructural investments which will be by and large paid by Pakistani investors, poor consumers and tax payers in the form of commercial loans from Chinese banks.
Now having a glance at the energy sector with $35 billion investment with detailed investigation into independent power producers, (IPPs) the real players are bringing coal from China despite the extraction of coal- enriched deposits from Pakistan.
It clearly implies that China channelling a strategy with aid of these projects to dump it excessive resources such as coal in Pakistan.
Moreover, IPPs have further bound the government of Pakistan to buy electricity from their power houses for at least 30 years even if there is any need of it or not.
In addition, it is a more expensive rate than offered in the international markets or existing electricity production in Pakistan.
In addition, for China CPEC provides an alternate secure route to import energy and find new markets for its goods and services.
Approximately 80% of the China’s oil is currently transported via Strait of Malacca to Shanghai which almost covers a distance of 16000 km and travel time of 2-3 months.
In contrast, after the operations at Gwadar port distance will be reduced to less than 5000 km.
It will be great strategic benefit for China as it will provide access to convenient mobility with significant reduction in the travel time.
On the other hand, it will also benefit Pakistan by giving it an edge in the region, especially while countering Indian influence.
Moreover, it will also act as major transit point by connecting Eurasian region South Asia and South East Asia
Now with this growing influence of China in Pakistan financial markets will definitely overshadow the authority of the IMF and World Bank.
Although IMF has also warned that CPEC could add to Pakistan’s medium to long term risks by forecasting country’s external financing requirements to rise by $15.1 billion by 2018-19 with current financial year amounting to $11.4I billion.
It clearly indicates the Chinese ruling class has the full potential to emerge as new imperialist power in the region in short span of time.
Furthermore, it is claimed by the Pakistan government that CPEC project will generate somewhat 700,000 direct jobs by 2030.
But, rather than creation of jobs it is feared that with passing years of CPEC there will be closure of Pakistan local industry due to intense competition by Chinese high tech companies.
This seems like a horrific picture by all means.Given the current scenario Pakistan may be facing a situation like Greece as there is no sign of us meeting financial requirements at our end.
There is little chance that Pakistan could effectively and technically exploit maximum benefits from CPEC.
Indeed, it will have to go back to IMF next year with high amount of debt on its shoulders.
But the government obsession with CPEC game is strong, which is like national anthem for them around which all the political parties revolve around.
Hussain Javed
Al-Aqsa Mufti: Teaching Israel’s syllabus is ‘haram’
The Mufti of Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Ekrema Sabri said yesterday that teaching Israeli books in the Palestinian schools in occupied Jerusalem is “haram”, the Palestinian Information Centre reported.
“Anyone who teaches the Zionist syllabus, agrees to teach it or send their sons to the schools which teach it is sinful,” Sabri said during the Friday sermon.
Meanwhile, the Sheikh condemned the Israeli occupation’s demolition of Palestinian homes and villages in Jerusalem, calling this “terrorist, inhumane and revengeful acts”.
He also denounced the Israeli occupation’s razing of Al-Shuhada Cemetery, which is adjacent to Al-Aqsa Mosque from the eastern side, noting that cemeteries are sacred places in all religions.
The Sheikh reiterated that the Israeli occupation’s aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque has never stopped and stressed that no particle of sand of Al-Aqsa Mosque is negotiable.
He reiterated that all Muslims reject the decision issued by the Israeli court to close Al-Aqsa’s Al-Rahma Gate.
The Israeli court does not have jurisdiction over Al-Aqsa Mosque, he said, stressing that Al-Rahma Gate is one of the prayer places of Al-Aqsa Mosque and it is an inseparable part of it.

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