By Baber Aly
According to a recent news report, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police has refused to provide security to the Chinese engineers who will be working on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. The KP police officials said that the provincial government has strong reservations on the route of the CPEC, which is why the police will not be providing any security to the foreign engineers. Rather, the official said, federal government should ask the army to spare the personnel for their security.
It is also worth mentioning here that a few months ago the KP police had declined a request by the federal government to provide security personnel for those working on Suki Kinari Hydropower project. Instead it was suggested by the police that some ex-servicemen may be hired to protect the engineers and other workers, with the financial help of the project management.
The question arises why the provincial police or the government is doing this. The CPEC is not meant for the development of one region only. The entire country will benefit from it. If the progress is halted in one region for some reason, the magnitude of the effects will be adverse and long lasting.
Not only Pakistan, but China too has serious interest in this corridor as the CPEC is going to give them strategic and economic benefits. If the provincial government has some reservations, this is not the way to express them. Not providing security to our guests will send a very negative message. We pronounce the China-Pak friendship deeper than the oceans and higher than Himalayas but our actions should also support our words.
Earlier, in 2015, the Chinese embassy had to issue a formal statement urging Pakistani political parties to remove the differences on CPEC. All-parties conferences were held and all the stakeholders vowed to work for the national interest. The prime minister assured the KP government that their grievances will be addressed.
However, on January 3 this year, KP CM Pervez Khattak said that his government won’t allow the building of ‘tampered CPEC’. On January 15, Khattak welcomed PM’s assurance of addressing all misgivings of KP. But now, we are once again hearing talk of halting the historic project. Is the KP government serious in supporting the building of the CPEC project? If so, the ruling political party needs to cooperate with the federal government. If there are some issues, they must be settled on the table. But the provincial governments must lend a hand to the federal government in the work which is changing the destiny of the nation.
On May 7, addressing on the occasion of Engineers’ Day, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that CPEC is not a game-changer, it’s a fate changer. It will be a fate changer, if all the provincial governments as well as the federal government are on the same page. If we are unable to resolve our internal differences, the world will laugh at us. Our enemies will feel no need to send spies and agents in Pakistan anymore. Pakistan will be left far behind its competitors.
China has placed confidence in the leadership of Pakistan by putting its $46 billion into our country. We need to stay together to get its fruits. We must not forget that India is lobbying against this project using all its resources. She has invested a hefty amount to destabilise the region. Many other countries feel that this corridor will have negative impact on their economic interests. We need to understand the politics of our neighbours and foes. They want to pit us against each other which should never be allowed to happen as strength lies in unity. The KP government should rethink and revise its strategy and response towards this nation building project.
The writer is an M. Phil scholar