A video of Shahbaz Gill, special assistant to the prime minister on political communication, in which he is seen criticising the colossal Chinese investment arriving in Pakistan amid the much-debated $62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has attracted major flak on social media.
Chinese investment on CPEC projects, part of Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has been a matter of debate since its inflow began following the inauguration of initial projects in Gwadar in 2016.
“Is Chinese investment beneficial for Pakistan? Being a business professor, I would say no, not at all” Gill says in his speech which appears to be delivered at a seminar.
“Chinese culture is very different. I love China too. I’m not saying I’m against China […] but [they possess a] very different culture.”
“The way you see things very differently. The way you see society is very differently,” he further says, adding: “Pakistanis do not know anything about Chinese culture at all.”
“They know more about [the] US or any other European country than China. So, in any way, they are not ready to engage in that business or in that trade [sic].”
Correction: December 2017.
— Dr. Shahbaz GiLL (@SHABAZGIL) June 7, 2020
According to Gill, the speech was delivered in December 2017 at a conference that also had PTI leader Asad Umar and anchorperson Dr Moeed Pirzada in attendance.
The PM’s aide further said that some people were using the cherry-picked snippet to give the matter a wrong impression.
The video also earned retweets from secretary general of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Ahsan Iqbal and Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairperson Mushahid Hussain Syed, who termed the video as “shocking” and “unacceptable”.
Shocking & unacceptable statement from an official spokesman of Govt of Pakistan, music to ears of our enemies who’d love to hear such language about our best friend! When Ahsan Iqbal @betterpakistan was Planning Minister, there was political ownership of CPEC, no longer it seems https://t.co/G1ld50fs9P
— Mushahid Hussain (@Mushahid) June 7, 2020
Sharing the video on his Twitter, Iqbal demanded the sacking of Gill.
شہباز گل کے پاکستان کے دوست ملک چین کے خلاف بیان منظر عام آنے کے بعد ان سے فورا استعفی لیا جائے- حکومت کی آستینوں میں چین دشمن لوگ بیٹھے ہیں تو سی پیک کیسے کامیاب ہو سکتا ہے؟ pic.twitter.com/9VdsvvlnjD
— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) June 7, 2020