Mar 30, 2017

Balochistan: An Insight Into the CPEC and its Consequences for the Baloch


Map by The NorthLines

The two main parties in Balochistan describe the reasons why the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will lead to negative consequences for the region. The agreement has caused demonstrations among minorities in Balochistan and the topic has also been brought to the attention of the 34th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) by Mir Suleiman Ahmedzai, Khan of Kalat and Abdul Nawaz Bugti, representative of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP). According to them, the CPEC could lead to the extinction of the Baloch people’s cultural identity. On 16 March 2017, during the 34th UNHRC, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) held a side-event on human rights violations in Balochistan with a focus on the CPEC. 


Below it is an article published by The NorthLines

Sana Baloch, who belongs to a moderate Balochistan National Party warns that if the CPEC leads to ‘Balochistan being overrun with outsiders, it will turn Gwadar not into another Dubai but another Karachi’, meaning there will be unrest and bloodshed.

He further said: “I have no sympathy for the armed groups, but we fear the coastal region will be taken from the hands of Baloch people,” he said. “For the last 40 years, Balochistan has been completely in Islamabad’s control, and used as a dumping ground for political garbage. That must end.”

Mir Suleiman Ahmedzai, Khan of Kalat also expressed his views in various Seminars held in the 34th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Also, he gave interviews to different news agencies. While speaking to ANI, Khan of Kalat branded China and Pakistan ‘plunderers’. He asserted: ‘that Balochistan strongly welcomes India’s assistance in stopping both nations with their nefarious plans in executing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. CPEC has no developmental value whatsoever and is simply one ‘occupier’ taking the help of another ‘occupier’ in plundering the region which is rich in natural resources. We are not going to enjoy anything, nor are we going to benefit from it. We are not even being asked as it is our land. They are coming as plunderers and we will stop them in whichever way, maybe with the help of your people and friends”. He was referring to India. While replying to Pakistani claims that the CPEC will provide new jobs and development, Khan of Kalat said: “Since the past 70 years Pakistan has claimed a lot of things. They are big liars and will keep on lying. Even when it comes to terrorism, be it in their own country or their neighbours.”

Another Baloch political and human rights activist, Munir Mengal President of Baloch Voice Foundation, said: ‘The CPEC was a ‘strategic design’ by Pakistan and China to loot Balochistan’s resources and eliminate their culture and identity. Most of the people have the same concern that is design is disastrous to the people. This conference was organised to show the international body that there will be no benefit from the CPEC project and all of us will be eliminated.”

Abdul Nawaz Bugti, representative of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP) also addressed the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva; and requested to UN to appoint a Special Rapporteur for Pakistan. He gave details of human rights’ violations in Balochistan; and strongly criticized the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said what Pakistan did in Balochistan was ‘genocide in Pakistan’s largest and resource-rich province of Balochistan’.

Abdul Nawaz Bugti further said: ‘Balochistan is not a legitimate part of Pakistan. It was illegally occupied and it is treated as a colony where the Pakistani occupational states subject the people to extreme atrocities and exploit their land and natural resources…  Mass graves are being found in Balochistan, which is clear evidence of Pakistan war crimes. Just two weeks ago, another mass grave was uncovered in Dera Bugti while scores of women and children were among those killed in army operations there in recent weeks.”  16

Baloch political and human rights activists claim that around 20,000 people are missing, believed to be ‘abducted by the Pakistani forces’. The victims are generally the educated Baloch people, for example, political activists, teachers, students, lawyers, intellectuals etc. In Balochistan, the educated people become targets of agencies, because these people are more aware of their rights and persuade people to fight against oppression.

Abdul Nawaz Bugti further said: ‘The international community has unfortunately turned a blind eye towards the systematic genocide taking place in Balochistan. Some countries, for example China, has joined hands with the Pakistani state to exploit the land, sea and resources of Balochistan. Pakistan and China have officially become crime partners in the name of so-called CPEC, which connects China’s landlocked region to the middle-east via Baluchistan’s deep seaport Gwadar.”

Founder of American Friends of Balochistan, Ahmar Mastikhan said: ‘Islamabad has thrown to the winds at least 25 out of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Balochistan. The execution style, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, and kill and dump of thousands of Baloch, use of degrading forms of torture such as feeding feces and sodomy of the Baloch activists have taken place in the last 12 years and is still continuing.”

Another Baloch political activist Javed Mengal said, ‘Balochistan is in state of war’, and added ‘that the Pakistan Army is forcefully displacing people from their land in name of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). A curfew was imposed in the region along the routes of CPEC to show to the world that there is peace in the region when two containers loaded with project goods were arriving in Pakistan from China, but, Balochistan is in state of war.’

Baloch nationalists genuinely believe that the CPEC will exploit their resource-rich province; and the local people will be reduced to a minority in their own land. In various Baloch seminars and protests popular slogans were “China Hands-off Balochistan”, “Stop Baloch Genocide” and “No to CPEC”.

Emotions aside, the Baloch rebels are not in a position to combat strong army of Pakistan; and now they have Chinese strength behind them as well. China will have a strong reason to protect its investment, and use its military muscle to control the situation. Some experts believe that one of the reason why Pakistan is so eager to have CPEC operational is that it will deter India from any military adventure against Pakistan, when China is standing with them to protect the CPEC and protect more than 50 billion Dollars investment.

What alarmed me was a view of one Western speaker at the seminar during the UN Human Rights Council 34th Session. The learned lady, Claudia Wadlics, while talking about potential problems resulting from the CPEC, Pakistan and China, said:

‘So how can this problem become solved? So how do we propose economic and efficient designs and strategies which will bring social justice to Balochs, Pashtuns, Kashmiris and Sindhis? First, there must be founded a ‘Government in Exile’ by the Baloch leaders and the Khan of Kalat; perhaps in India. Second, this government must be acknowledged by India and the US and perhaps, also by Russia, with provision for the countries of Europe following. Media around the world will be informed about the legality of an independent Balochistan. The Security Council of UN will face only China and Pakistan’s vetoes’.

The guest speaker developed this theme further and said if Balochi and Sindhi coasts are under military control of Pakistan and China, then Baloch Government in exile can ‘legally call for the help of the US and Indian Governments, perhaps Russia too, to intervene and secure Gwadar port’.

Soon after the seminar, I managed to speak to her for a minute, and exchanged visiting cards. She has sent me a copy of her speech. Title of her speech is ‘Economic and Strategic Designs and Social Justice – A Global Talk Regarding the CPEC’. I shall post the speech on my blog soon.

What does this indicate? Is there a plan to establish an exile government of Balochistan? Will that government have support of countries like America, Russia and India? What will be the result of this? Is the region going to become a battleground in future?

China is investing this huge money not because they like Pakistanis, but because it is in national interest of China. During my recent visit to Geneva to attend the UN Human Rights 34th Session, I attended one seminar on CPEC. One guest was from Chinese area which the guest speaker called Chinese Occupied East Turkistan. He said the CPEC will start from his homeland – East Turkistan, against the wishes and interests of the local population. He said local people will resist that.

That is very interesting. The CPEC will start from an occupied territory, East Turkistan, it will enter another occupied territory called Gilgit Baltistan. From there it will enter Pakistani province of KPK, and will end in Balochistan, which in view of the local people is also occupied.

China, it looks, is also worried about sabotage of the CPEC route. Their army and para military troops have great experience in ruthlessly crushing public rallies and opposition; but they felt necessary to hire some foreign troops or rather terrorists to crush opposition and protect the route.

According Chinese Global Times, the world infamous organisation Blackwater, which is now operating under a new name Academi, will establish bases in Xinjiang to support and protect the One Belt and One Road initiative. Call it Blackwater or Academi, it is essentially a ‘private military company’, and ‘provides executive security services and specialized training.’ Erik Prince, Executive Chairman of the firm told the Chinese Global Times that:

‘Frontier Services Group (FSG), a company that helps businesses operating in frontier markets to overcome complex security, logistics and operational challenges, plans to build two operational bases in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Southwest China’s Yunnan Province’. 20

The company has more than 5,000 highly trained personnel working nine different countries. It also played an important role in Iraq war.

It is believed that the Chinese companies desperately needed overseas protection for their investment and their personnel. Li Jiang, Director of the International Affairs Department in the China Security and Protection Group, said the Chinese security service companies lacked skills and advanced management theories. As a result, they hired ‘experts’ of Blackwater to support them.

The Executive Chairman, while explaining about the new operation in China told Bloomberg in 2015, that the main function of the FSG was to provide the Chinese customers ‘logistic support to get in and out of African danger zones…Africa is an important destination for Chinese investment … We believe our team’s local knowledge will greatly benefit Chinese clients’. 21

Eric Prince further said: “in late 2016, FSG expanded its geographic focus from purely Africa to include the Northwest and Southwest corridors of the One Belt and One Road initiative.”

The following countries include in the Northwest corridor: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afganistan. And the following countries include in the Southwest corridor: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia.

He further said: “the planned new facility in China’s Yunnan Province will allow FSG to be able to better serve companies in the Southwest corridor. Subsequently, FSG will open a training facility in Xinjiang to serve businesses in the Northwest corridor.” 22

The Spokesman for the FSG, Wang Dawei said, ‘the Yunnan base will be operating this year while the one in Xinjiang is projected to start operation in 2018’.

Readers must take this fact in to consideration that America is a neighbour of every country, and they smell danger to their ‘national interest’ from miles and take appropriate measure to eliminate it. They know China will be a serious danger to their hegemony in future; and they are working for many years to contain China.

Despite the contain China policy, America does not want a war with China. So, the best policy is to support India, another emerging economic and military power. Tension and competing interests of various countries, including Japan and America in South China Sea could also lead to some kind of confrontation, which they have sensibly avoided so far.

Other region of conflict and competition is Indian Ocean. In this region India also has a great interest; and their strategic experts believe that the CPEC has hidden agenda of encircling India and endanger India’s national interest in this region. This is where America and India have a common interest. They also have a common interest in Afghanistan and in Central Asia.

It is logical for America to support India in every possible way that a strong India can share some responsibilities in the region. If China and Pakistan can conclude strong economic and military agreements, then nothing stops America and India doing same to advance a common agenda.

If the CPEC completes without any hurdles it will surely strengthen China economically and militarily. Their influence in South Asia, in Central Asia, Arabian Sea, in the Indian Ocean and in many other countries will immensely improve. And if all goes well, Pakistan can also become stronger, especially when China is at its back to protect and support Pakistan.

This scenario will not suit India, America and many other countries. If weak Pakistan keeps on interfering in affairs of neighbours and exporting terrorism, extremism and hatred, then a strong Pakistan will bravely continue to call shots in India, in Kashmir and in Afghanistan. A strong Pakistan will also find courage to say no to America, Britain, Saudi Arabia and others when it suits them. This made in China courage and leverage won’t be appreciated by these countries.

Won’t it be in the interest of these countries to plan a counter strategy to protect and promote their interests? And if they do that, won’t this lead to some kind of military confrontation with more than one party on each side. Does it mean regions like Gilgit Baltistan, KPK, Balochistan and Afghanistan can become a battleground for the competing interests of various countries.

So, I agree, the CPEC is a game changer, but in whose favour the game will change, it is too early to say.