Friday, May 1, 2015

Will Pakistan's Gwadar Become "Hong Kong West"?

The port city of Hong Kong has played a pivotal role in China's economic and trade expansion on the Chinese East Coast in the Pacific region. Meanwhile, China's Western region has remained relatively underdeveloped.

China's West Coast:

Is China looking to build and use Gwadar in Pakistan as Hong Kong West to accelerate development in its West? Will Gwadar serve as a superhighway for China's trade expansion in Middle East, Africa and Europe? A point to project Chinese economic and military might westward?

Unlike the continental United States which has coasts on both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans allowing it easy access to Europe and Asia, China has only one coast, its East Coast along South China Sea.

As the Americans look to Asia with the US Pivot to Asia and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Chinese are looking to expand westward with Central Asia as well as Africa, Europe and the Middle East with "One Road One Belt" initiative funded by Silk Road Fund and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Pakistan is a crucial partner in this strategy, particularly the development of Pakistan-China Corridor linking China's western region with Gwadar port on the Arabia Sea.



Gwadar Deep Sea Port:

The Chinese see Gwadar deep sea port and the town of Jiwani as Hong Kong West, a gateway to Middle East, Africa and Europe. It will be the most important link in China's Maritime Silk Route (MSR), a sort of superhighway to the West for Chinese trade.

Professor Juan Cole of University of Michigan has aptly described the Chinese strategy as follows:

China’s enormous northwest is much closer to the Arabian Sea than to the port of Shanghai. It is about 2800 km. from Urumqi (pop. 4 million, the size of Los Angeles inside city limits) to Karachi, but twice as far to Shanghai. China has decided to develop its northwest by turning Pakistan into a sort of Hong Kong West. Hong Kong played, and perhaps still plays an important role as a gateway for certain kinds of foreign investment into China. In the same way, Pakistan can be a window on the world and a conduit for oil and trade into northwestern cities such as Urumqi and the smaller Kashgar (pop. 1 mn.)

In addition to a major expansion of the deep sea port,  there are plans in place for building a modern city with several skyscrapers, an international airport, highways and industrial parks in Gwadar, Balochistan. There will be air, road and rail links to move people and freight to and from around the world. Oil and gas pipelines are planned to transport energy as well. When completed, it will be comparable to major international port cities of Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Baloch Insurgency:

Baloch insuegency is cited as  a key threat to the implementation of the China-Pakistan Corridor in Pakistan. What is often not acknowledged by analysts is the fact that the Baloch insurgency is dying. It's a fact that has recently been described in some detail by Malik Siraj Akbar who is sympathetic to the Baloch separatist cause. Here's what Akbar wrote in December 2014 in a piece titled "The End of Pakistan's Baloch Insurgency?":

"Since its beginning in 2004, the Pakistan's Baloch insurgency is caught up in the worst infighting ever known to the general public. Different left-wing underground armed groups that had been fighting Islamabad for a free Baloch homeland have now started to attack each other's camps......Frustration, suspicion, infighting and division are the common features of the end of a guerrilla fight. Perhaps that time has come in Balochistan. "

Language Map of Balochistan


The announcement of the Pak-China deal seems to have re-energized those who seek to hurt Pakistan. They are now trying to resuscitate the dying Baloch insurgency. Western media has widely publicized an interview of Bramdagh Bugti who is running the insurgency from the comfort of a Swiss hotel room.  In addition, Pakistan's western-funded NGOs are being used to play up the Baloch insurgency in the media with events like "Un-Silencing Balochistan" event and by blaming the ISI for the murder of Karachi activist Sabeen Mahmud.

Summary:

The China-Pak Corridor deal could prove to be transformational for Pakistan's economy, prosperity and rising living standards of its nearly 200 million people. As development work moves forward for Gwadar and China-Pakistan Corridor, I fully expect several hostile nations, including neighboring India, to use their proxies on the ground in Balochistan and some members of the "civil society" made up of some foreign-funded NGOs in Pakistan to make progress as difficult as possible. There will be serious efforts by many to resuscitate the dying Baloch insurgency. Pakistani people and both civil and military leaders need to be prepared to deal with these hurdles.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Who Killed Sabeen Mahmud? Why?

Xi Jinping in Pakistan

Pak-China Industrial Corridor

American Hypocrisy on Dr. Afridi's Sentence

Post Cold War World: Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-US-Japan

How Strategic Are China-Pakistan Ties?

Alaska Permanent Fund: A Model For Balochistan?

Has Modi Stepped Up India's Covert War in Pakistan?

Serious Issues Undermining Baloch Insurgency


27 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday expressed optimism on the possibility of transforming Gwadar in Balochistan into a successful free port on the same lines as Hong Kong to attract foreign investment and boost national economy.

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He announced that the Chinese Delegation coming to review plans for options regarding the proposed economic corridor would reach Pakistan on Monday.

Sharif also approved in principal upgradation of the existing railway track system between Karachi and Peshawar at a cost of US 2.7 billion dollars.

The two-year project would modernise signaling, communications, locomotives and enable the trains to run at a speed of 120 km per hour. This would also shorten the time needed to travel between Karachi to Lahore from 18 to 12 hours and between Karachi to Peshawar from 27 to 17 hours.

Minister for Railways Saad Rafique said around 67 per cent of the country's rail track was overage and so was its entire locomotives fleet and signaling system.

The prime minister also proposed construction of a new airport for Islamabad at Rawat, construction of new tunnels, train links and roads across the country.

He, however, noted that the economic activity in the country could only be expedited once there was peace and tranquility.

Mentioning the recent deliberations of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet that discussed the issue of extremism and terrorism, the premier said there was also a need to address the energy crisis on urgent basis.

PM Sharif stressed the importance of a meaningful interaction with militants and said it will help address all issues. “Importance of dialogue could not be ruled out,” he said.

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He said Pakistan had to tender apologies for the killings of Chinese nationals in terror-related incidents. “How long will we tender apologies? We need to rectify the wrongdoing,” the prime minister said.

Referring to the Economic Corridor, the prime minister said both sides were taking keen interest in the project as not only China but the entire region would benefit from this mega project.

He said Pakistan-China Economic Corridor was future of the country. He recalled his earlier meetings which discussed the Trade Corridor from Kashgar to Khunjerab and Gwadar and in principal, approved the proposed alignment of Pak-China Trade Corridor, with the directions to further evaluate the proposal in terms of time and cost efficiency.

“Gwadar Port would help reduce the time needed for transportation of Chinese exports from 16 to 4 days, besides reducing the cost considerably.”

The prime minister said that as the mega project would go through underdeveloped areas of Pakistan, it would also help develop those areas and bring them at par with the developed ones. “It would connect all the provinces and all the regions would equally reap the benefits of the project,” he added.

He said the existing Motorways could be handed over to the private sector to generate around Rs 250 billion annually that would help fund construction of new roads. The prime minister directed that the existing and the new motorways be linked with the highways to improve connectivity.

Nawaz Sharif said that the proposed tunnel through the Margalla hills to link Islamabad with Haripur would provide a shorter route to the commuters of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mansehra and Abbottabad.

He said the Islamabad Expressway would be extended up to Muzaffarabad and Lower Topa - Havellian portion would be soon built. He added that the Islamabad-Muzaffarabad Expressway project was his vision and it had been planned in his previous government.

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The road between Zero Point and Rawat would be built like Shaikh Zaid Road in Dubai having business and residential centers along it, he added.

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Prime Minister Sharif said similar projects could be conceived in Lahore and Karachi, including underground Metro Train service in the two mega cities and added that China had shown keen interest in the project.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1037827/nawaz-for-giving-hong-kong-like-status-to-gwadar

Riaz Haq said...

If you have ever doubted that the mother of invention is necessity, then look no further than Pakistan.

Pakistan has struggled to provide opportunities to its people for decades. But the country is turning the tide.

People in Pakistan are determined to define their destiny. They are using all of the resources at their disposal to tackle their challenges..
When Madeeha Hassan, a young entrepreneur from a small town found herself in Lahore, one of the largest Pakistani cities, she was a bit scared. She thought everyone was smarter than her. At times, she wanted to run back to her home town.

After completing her studies, she started to work as a user interface designer. Her office was far from where she lived. It was hard to find a reliable mode of transportation. So she and few of her friends, created Savaree, Pakistan's first ridesharing app. The app resolved her carpooling problems and those of many others too.

It's just not young people who are innovating. Public administrators are doing it too.

In 2011, dengue fever engulfed Pakistan and killing hundreds of people. By 2012, Pakistanis had created an app to ensure people were treated rapidly and resources to combat dengue were mobilized efficiently. In 2012, there were 80 times fewer cases of dengue fever in Lahore than in 2011.

In Pakistan, there has been remarkable progress in rebuilding trust between citizens and public administrators. Pakistan's Punjab Citizen Feedback Model is leveraging the power of mobile phones, SMS and personal phone calls.

Let's say, for example, you went to a government office in Punjab to register your property. An official "records your mobile number, along with other details of the transaction." This information is sent to "local call officers" and to a call center.

Later, a local officer will call you asking about your experience registering your property. And there are call centers that call thousands of people who use public services. As of April 2014, "more than 4 million citizens of Pakistan had been contacted" and asked about their experiences with "the departments of revenue, health, and education."

These responses are entered into the system to make public services better.

This progress comes in contrast with how Pakistan is viewed as a place of conflict. But as evidence shows, we are witnessing how public administrators and youth are taking steps towards realizing Pakistan 2.0: where people can fulfil their dreams and have the opportunity to reach their potential.

Technology is not only serving as a tool for the government to leapfrog the way it conducts its business, but, as you might have guessed, it's also helping youth become job creators and problem solvers.

In 2013, more than 70% of the population had mobile phones, most of them costing under $60.
​Today more than 60% of Pakistanis are under the age of 30. Unemployment, especially, among youth remains high. With no jobs, and lack of opportunities youth are taking it upon themselves to create opportunities, as Hassan did.

As administrators, and public, especially youth, commit to innovating and improving Pakistan, we are bound to see Pakistan 2.0 in the near future.
The digital youth summit happening in May in Peshawar, a diverse and dynamic city of Pakistan, is just one more step towards the quest to make Pakistan more prosperous and stable. At the summit, participants will focus on technology entrepreneurship, on-line work and 'tech for social' innovation.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ravi-kumar/what-would-pakistan-20-lo_b_7184818.html

Riaz Haq said...

From India's Economic Times:

NEW DELHI: India will push ahead this week with plans to build a port in southeast Iran, two sources said, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi keen to develop trade ties with Central Asia and prepared to fend off US pressure not to rush into any deals with Iran.

India and Iran agreed in 2003 to develop a port at Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran's border with Pakistan, but the venture has made little progress because of Western sanctions on Iran.

Now, spurred on by Chinese President Xi Jinping's signing of energy and infrastructure agreements with Pakistan worth $46 billion, Modi wants to swiftly sign trade deals with Iran and other Gulf countries.

"Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari will travel on a day-long tour to Iran to sign a memorandum of understanding for development of Chabahar port," a shipping ministry source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The deal will be signed on Wednesday, he said.

Read more at:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/47161638.cms

Riaz Haq said...

Right in the heart of Balochistan, there are islands of excellence in education, service to the community and devotion to nation-building. Unfortunately, they don’t get media attention or national recognition. The commitment of these men and women so devoted to the development of Balochistan needs to be acknowledged. My visits twice to the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (BUITEMS), Quetta, over the past two years, reveal a very different Balochistan than the picture we usually get about the standard of higher education or about the institution-builders in our most backward province.

The university is merely 12-year-old. It is amazing to see how this institution has transformed itself into one of the outstanding places for learning in the country. The university, first housed in an abandoned textile mill on the outskirts of the city, has re-engineered and converted the buildings into an architectural marvel. Words cannot explain this change that houses some of the best facilities, laboratories, classrooms, auditoriums and sunlit corridors, lobbies and halls. Important as they are, the physical structures tell very little about the human development they facilitate.

Having visited so many of the universities in Pakistan, old and new, BUITEMS makes a lasting impression of positive change taking place in Balochistan. First, it has highly qualified faculty members, mostly with foreign degrees, and opting to serve in their home province. The congenial atmosphere of the university also continues to attract teachers from other provinces. Just to give you an idea, it has 49 PhDs working and 137 more enrolled in some of the best universities abroad. Second, it has 7,523 students from various parts of the province with representation from other provinces and Afghanistan, facilitating provincial and national diversity. Third, more than 33 per cent of the students receive financial assistance from the university. It is refreshing to see that BUITEMS is free of disruptive student politics that have ruined a good number of national universities in Balochistan and other provinces.

It is the vision, commitment and hard work of the faculty and the Vice-Chancellor, Engineer Farooq Ahmad Bazai, who have contributed to the rise of this university that offers hope and opportunity to young men and women in Balochistan to excel. There is more. Starting with the University of Balochistan, the first-ever university to be established in the province in 1972, Balochistan now has six universities in the public sector with a lot of support from the Higher Education Commission for infrastructural development and scholarships for training of faculty in foreign universities. The present Balochistan government of Dr Abdul Malik Baloch has shown far greater commitment and ownership of public education than any government in the history of the province. It now spends about 26 per cent of the budget on education.

The point is that the usual prism and the lenses we often use to look at Balochistan and the country require some dusting and realigning. Fixed views and fixed lenses never help grasp the reality of change anywhere.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/881452/a-world-class-university-in-balochistan/

Riaz Haq said...

Is Pakistan the most exciting place to live in the 21st century? It’s almost as if someone has unleashed good news for the country on all fronts; economic, political and security. Over $40 billion in Chinese investment are on their way but more importantly a bet by the world’s next superpower to tie its regional ambitions to Pakistan’s prosperity. This is a game-changing Marshall plan of sorts that appears too good to be true. On security, the army, civilian leadership and civil society are steadily taking the battle to religious extremists instead of indulging in in-fighting and appearing like sitting ducks. On politics, a stunning election took place in Karachi last month, on the hottest of seats, but the result was respected by all parties as the polls were largely free and fair. Rewind a few months back when the country was about to unravel on rigging allegations. Who are you and what have you done to my country that it couldn’t get anything right?

As a wise man once said, abhi tau party shuru hui hai. Fuel and electricity prices have steadily declined in Pakistan over the last few months and we sit on the cusp of a consumer spending bonanza that will fuel the informal economy. Both consumers and producers will see their bottomlines improving behind lower fuel prices and subdued inflation. More importantly, this isn’t a cheap credit-driven bubble that will burst anytime soon (unless fuel prices rise abruptly). There is another geo-political prize in the making. Iran and America are flirting with the idea of becoming friends. If this happens, sanctions could be lifted and Pakistan could finally get cheap gas from Iran to overcome domestic shortages. A big, hungry market may also open up next door and we could potentially import cheaper oil too. If this isn’t enough, international cricket is returning to Pakistan, too. Who are you and what have you done to the country that was destined to become a failed state?

Before you dismiss me as someone in denial about the gravity of Pakistan’s real problems, let me clarify that the purpose of this article isn’t to argue that Pakistan doesn’t have serious problems. The purpose of this article is to argue that Pakistan is more than the sum of its problems. Several bright spots are beginning to emerge in the country but no one is connecting the dots. When it comes to declaring Pakistan a failed state, the mainstream media is quick to connect the dots and focus hysterically on doomsday scenarios that drive ratings. But no one wants to talk about a confluence of positive economic, geo-political, security and political factors that are setting up Pakistan for success by firmly nudging us in the right direction. How dare you, Pakistan? Who are you and what have you done to the country where hopelessness had defeated hope itself?

Pakistan may not be the richest country to live in the 21st century. It may not be the safest country to live in the 21st century. But it may just be the most interesting country to live in the 21st century. Consider this: the Pakistani people are frontline warriors in the greatest ideological battles of the 21st century, including the battle against religious extremism.



http://tribune.com.pk/story/882045/why-pakistans-future-looks-bright/

Riaz Haq said...

Recent pictures of the Chinese President Xi Jinping's aircraft being escorted by eight made-in-China Pakistani JF-17 Thunder fighter jets as it entered the Pakistani airspace reflect the expanding relationship of the two countries. On his two-day visit to Islamabad in April, Xi committed $46 billion of investments in Pakistan. This is roughly three times the foreign direct investment Pakistan has received in the last decade. This is also more than the $31 billion Pakistan got in US aid since 2002, according to the US-based Congressional Research Service. Clearly, Xi's visit has larger geopolitical ramifications. And for India, it could be a cause for concern.
The investment would go into building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. This would include a road connecting Gwadar port in Balochistan with Kashgar in Xinjiang province of China via Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The 3,000-km corridor would have industrial parks and 10.4 GW of power projects worth $15.5 billion. China is already upgrading the 1,300-km Karakoram Highway despite Indian opposition. The highway, being built by state-owned China Road & Bridge Corporation, is expected to be ready by September this year. China's help in developing infrastructure in the disputed part of Kashmir is seen as its support to Pakistan's claim on this region.


Another reason to worry for India is that China has the rights to operate the Gwadar port, which increases Beijing's influence in the Arabian Sea. The new road and the Gwadar port would help China boost trade with Europe, West Asia and Africa. This will also give China easier access to West Asian oil, especially from Iran. China is one of the biggest consumers of Iranian oil and this route would help it transport oil before it completes a pipeline from Gwadar to Kashgar. Beijing is also helping Islamabad complete the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline at a cost of $2 billion.
The growing engagement between China and Pakistan may prove to be a stumbling block for India's ambitious plans to boost ties with Afghanistan and Iran. India had committed $100 million to develop the Chabahar port in Iran, but the project is stuck. The port is important for India to access Afghanistan by bypassing Pakistan. Islamabad has already rejected New Delhi's proposal on the SAARC motor vehicle pact that would have allowed seamless transit to vehicles from South Asian countries. Pakistan's refusal makes it impossible for Indian transporters to use the land route to Afghanistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on April 28, told the visiting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that India was ready to receive Afghan trucks at the Integrated Check Post at Attari, on the India-Pakistan border. But that won't be enough.
Meanwhile, the infrastructure projects Chinese companies are executing in Pakistan will allow free movement to vehicles of the two countries. And while China's relations with India are also improving - Xi visited India in September last year and Modi is heading to China in May - New Delhi will still be wary of Beijing's growing clout in the region.

http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/china-investments-in-pakistan-rising-headache-for-india/1/218868.html

Riaz Haq said...

While a political ado is being witnessed in Pakistan on the suspected change of the Pak-China Economic Corridor route, Chinese authorities have cautioned local authorities of a possible terror attack aimed at making the project a failure.

According to them, insurgents in Balochistan have prompted security fears for the 3,000-kilometre-long route in the province, a senior security official told The Express Tribune on Friday.

He said in addition to the insurgents, many foreign hostile intelligence agencies could also extend their support to the militants to sabotage some key projects particularly on the eastern alignment — Gwadar to Quetta — where work has already started.

Read: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Lines of development – not lines of divide

“The Chinese have sounded a note of ‘caution’ soon after reports suggested foreign agencies’ support to militants,” said the official, who attended an important meeting discussing key issues relating to Gwadar Port and Economic Corridor at the Ministry of Defence this week.

He further said, “Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), with other hostile agencies, is at the frontline to sabotage this project – that is what Chinese intelligence agencies shared with us.”

He added that the meeting also discussed concerns the Chinese authorities reminded Pakistan’s military and civilian government about an attack on state-run installations in Gwadar district last month, which were conveyed last month.

Security measures

Meanwhile, a special security division consisting of more than 8, 000 military personnel (nine army battalions) has been trained and will guard key projects linked from Hyderabad to Karachi and Gwadar through N-10 East Bay Expressway along the coastal line, officials overseeing the security of this route said.

They further said that an estimated 9, 000 security personnel – comprising Rangers, Levies, police, scouts – making up six wings will assist the military to guard more than 15,000 Chinese workers on this route.

Moreover, a major-general-rank officer will command the entire unit. Apart from guarding the economic corridor, an estimated 8,000 security officials have already been deployed for more than 8,112 Chinese workers executing 210 projects in Pakistan.

Gwadar Airport

An official of the Ministry of Interior revealed that the security layer around the Gwadar International Airport — a project costing $230 million to start this month — has been doubled following recent threats.

A similar case of security is with China-Pakistan Friendship Hospital and Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute falling under the jurisdiction of Balochistan, he added.

Security will have to be strengthened further as around 7, 000 additional Chinese workers are expected to join the already engaged teams to execute multi-billion projects around the route connecting Kashgar with Pakistan at Kunjarab – a point from where China wants to link to Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea.

Commenting on the complex situation, former caretaker interior minister Malik Habib said the reported presence of foreign elements in Balochistan poses a big challenge for law enforcement agencies to provide security to Chinese workers.

“The economic corridor is strategically very important — many hostile agencies have started backing Baloch militants,” he said.

According to Director Pakistan Institute of Strategic Studies Amir Rana, “China’s main worry seems to be the overall security of the corridor in the near future.”

Substantiating his point, Rana said threats such as tribal feuds, militants in Diamer, Baloch insurgents, political issues, nationalist and separatists groups link directly to the corridor security.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/890650/raw-at-frontline-to-sabotage-economic-corridor-china-warns-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

New Silk Road Could Change Global Economics Forever

Beginning with the marvelous tales of Marco Polo’s travels across Eurasia to China, the Silk Road has never ceased to entrance the world. Now, the ancient cities of Samarkand, Baku, Tashkent, and Bukhara are once again firing the world’s imagination.

China is building the world’s greatest economic development and construction project ever undertaken: The New Silk Road. The project aims at no less than a revolutionary change in the economic map of the world. It is also seen by many as the first shot in a battle between east and west for dominance in Eurasia.

The ambitious vision is to resurrect the ancient Silk Road as a modern transit, trade, and economic corridor that runs from Shanghai to Berlin. The 'Road' will traverse China, Mongolia, Russia, Belarus, Poland, and Germany, extending more than 8,000 miles, creating an economic zone that extends over one third the circumference of the earth.

The plan envisions building high-speed railroads, roads and highways, energy transmission and distributions networks, and fiber optic networks. Cities and ports along the route will be targeted for economic development.

An equally essential part of the plan is a sea-based “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR) component, as ambitious as its land-based project, linking China with the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and the Indian Ocean.

When completed, like the ancient Silk Road, it will connect three continents: Asia, Europe, and Africa. The chain of infrastructure projects will create the world's largest economic corridor, covering a population of 4.4 billion and an economic output of $21 trillion.

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Initial Project:

A look at the first project, currently under development, provides a good example of how China plans to proceed.

The first major economic development project will take place in Pakistan, where the Chinese have been working for years, building and financing a strategic deepwater port at Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea, that will be managed by China as the long-term leaseholder.

Gwadar will become the launching point for the much delayed Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline, which will ultimately be extended to China, with the Persian section already built and the Pakistan-Chinese section largely financed and constructed by the Chinese.

The pipeline is also set to traverse the country, following the Karakoram Mountain Highway towards Tibet, and cross the Chinese western border to Xinjang. The highway will also be widened and modernized, and a railroad built, connecting the highway to Gwadar.

http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/New-Silk-Road-Could-Change-Global-Economics-Forever.html

Riaz Haq said...

#UAE updates air service deal with #Pakistan. Adds flights to #Quetta, #Turbat, #Panjgaur, #Gwadar in #Balochistan http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/05-Jun-2015/uae-updates-air-service-agreement-with-pakistan …

The UAE has updated air service agreement with Pakistan allowing open skies approach on new points in Pakistan including Quetta, Turbat, Gwadar, Panjgur as well as increased passenger capacity to Karachi, Faisalabad, Multan and Sialkot.

The two-day negotiations between both parties resulted in signing an updated air service agreement between Pakistan and the UAE. Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, director-general, General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), signed the agreement on behalf of UAE while Amjad Ali Toor, additional secretary for aviation division, signed on behalf of Pakistan. The signing ceremony was also attended by UAE ambassador to Pakistan Isa Basha Al Noaimi, Khaleej Times reported. Al Suwaidi stressed the importance of this updated agreement which will contribute to boost trade, tourism and investment between UAE and Pakistan.

During his visit, Al Suwaidi toured the new airport in Islamabad which will be inaugurated in the second half on 2016 with a capacity to handle 50 million passengers.

Ms Laila Ali bin Hareb Al Muhairi, assistant of director-general of strategy and international affair at GCAA, said that UAE ranks second internationally in term of open skies agreements.

“UAE is driven more than ever to continue its international collaboration in air transport and shall continue its far-reaching and sound advances toward opening and liberating skies with countries of the world,” she added.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a piece from Express Tribune on Gwadar and Makran which fails to mention the fact that Pakistan purchased Makran coast, including Gwadar, from Oman in 1958; it wasn't just "transferred" to Pakistan as this piece claims:


People of the Bronze Age once occupied the Makran region surrounding Gwadar. The Greeks coined a name for Makran, when Alexander’s army passing through it, derived it from the Persian phrase Mahi Khoran meaning ‘fish-eaters’. Since there is no ‘kh’ sound in the Balochi language, it came to be called Makran. After the collapse of Alexander’s empire, the region continued to be ruled by one of his generals. This explains why the residents of Ganz, a shanty fishing village between Gwadar and Jiwani, have Caucasian looks. Mohammad bin Qasim captured Gwadar in 711AD. In 1783, the Khan of Kalat granted Gwadar to the defeated ruler of Muscat, Taimur Sultan. The area was transferred (Fact: Purchased by Pakistan) to Pakistan in 1958. Although inhabited by a small community of fishermen, Gwadar has historically been considered important due to its strategic location.

Balochistan, in general, is confronted with threats from the Taliban, separatist insurgents, and India, all of whom have attempted to impede the development of Gwadar and the economic corridor. Furthermore, the US is closely watching Chinese developments at Gwadar, which can potentially give China access and control over the mouth of the Strait of Hurmuz from where about 80 per cent of fossil fuels are transported. In addition, we should also look at the impact that lifting of sanctions on Iran, given the nuclear deal, and improvement in Iran-US ties will have on our region. Iran has strained relations with Pakistan, with cross-border movement restricted intermittently. Furthermore, India is developing a naval base at Chabahar that may at some point in the future also dock US aircraft carriers if relations between Iran and the US continue to improve. The strategic alignment between the US and India could create obstructions to the development of Gwadar.

The Pakistani government seems to have no specific plan for the people of Gwadar, thus allowing for their marginalisation, like the Native Americans were in North America. The beneficiaries of the development work in Gwadar will by no means be the indigenous people. The deprivation of the locals has already started, with the clearing and forwarding of ships being assigned to companies other than those from Gwadar and nobody to listen to the hue and cry of the local clearing agents.

The Balochistan government is doing absolutely nothing to prepare its youth for availing the job opportunities that will come up in the near future in Gwadar. The technical training centres once produced highly trained and technical hands when they were under German management. Now, they are dysfunctional. It is up to the provincial government to press upon the Chinese government to send youth from the Gwadar-Makran area on scholarships and vocational training to China.

Due to retardation in economic activity, local people are jobless with no source of income and with the provincial government enjoying little writ, there is an emergence of locals finding new alternatives, detrimental to a peaceful environment and society. Jobless men are baited, given false promises by foreign forces and used as pawns in a game of chess and then abandoned. The people trapped by these foreign forces foolishly think that their backers will help them get their rights. These people often fall into the trap set by foreign forces because of their circumstances. For example, the residents of the Mirani Dam area have been forcefully evicted without any proper rehabilitation plan by the government. The federal government should act with the same agility for these people as it did for the Nepal earthquake victims. Foreign countries claiming to be custodians of human rights are maintaining an absolute lull over this crucial issue. ...

http://tribune.com.pk/story/931047/a-plan-for-gwadar/

Riaz Haq said...

Start of #CPEC witnesses economic activities in #Balochistan #Pakistan. New hotels, businesses along completed route

http://www.brecorder.com/top-news/1/259514-start-of-cpec-witnesses-socio-economic-activities-in-balochistan.html …

Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday said social and economic activities have started in Balochistan along with the roads being constructed there as part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Under CPEC, two international standard roads are being constructed-- from Gwadar to Quetta, and from Gwadar to Khuzdar to Ratodero, he said.
" I was pleased to see, the local people have started setting up hotels, shops and houses along the completed portions of the CPEC routes linking Gwadar with China. This corridor shall bring social and economic change in Balochistan," he expressed his satisfaction while addressing a seminar on CPEC here.
The seminar titled " China Pakistan Economic Corridor: A Road to Peace and Prosperity of the Region" was organised by an NGO , Rabita Forum International (RFI) and presided over by its Chairman RFI, Nusrat Mirza. It was attended by a large number of students from different universities and the teachers.
RFI Chairman , Nusrat Mirza said the seminar was organised to create awareness among the students about the importance and prospects of CPEC, and what the role they could play in transforming CPEC into a big success for the country.
The universities would have to prepare groups of professionals to meet the demands of the projects/activities emerging during and after execution of this very important international plan of CPEC, Nusrat Mirza said.
The Federal Minister for Planning and Development assured that CPEC would be equally beneficial for all the provinces. Like Gwadar, he continued, Gilgit-Baltistan would be gateway to CPEC.
46 billion dollars CPEC would prove a game changer for entire region. It would interlink South Asia, Central Asia and Europe , and open billions of dollars market for Pakistan and other regional countries, he said. He elaborated that CPEC plan is divided into four parts : 1) setting up the most modern port of Gwadar which would increase our trade manifold, 2) strengthening of energy sector by adding more than 10,400 MW to the system and upgradation of the transmission system, 3) development of infrastructure based on three routes linking China with all the provinces of Pakistan, 4) industrialization mainly in Gwadar under Pak-China partnership and cooperation.

Riaz Haq said...

Brahumdagh Bugti expected soon to return to #Pakistan after 9 year self-exile to end #Balochistan insurgency. http://tribune.com.pk/story/989330/brahumdagh-bugti-expected-to-end-9-year-exile-soon-reports/ …

a source in the inner circles of Balochistan governement told RFE/RL’s Gandhara website that Bugti is months away from returning to Pakistan, marking an end of his nine-year exile which had followed the killing of his grandfather, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, by Pakistani security forces in 2006.

“He has agreed to come [back to Pakistan],” the website quoting an anonymous source said. “We have reached an agreement on 90 per cent of the issues.”

The source, a senior politician within Balochistan’s ruling coalition claimed Bugti indicated his willingness to return in a series of meeting with Balochistan chief minister in Switzerland this summer.

“There were two or three meetings [in July]. He [Bugti] has asked for respect and an end to all cases against him [as a pre-condition for his return],” the source was further quoted as saying.

Earlier in August, Bugti agreed to hold talks with the government on the Balochistan issue, hinting at the possibility of withdrawing demands of separation — provided that was what the people in the province wanted.

“We are ready to stay with Pakistan if our friends, well-wishers, majority of the Baloch people and political allies want the same,” the self-exiled separatist leader told the BBC Urdu in an interview in Switzerland.

This was the first time that the BRA leader, who is the grandson of former Balochistan governor and chief minister Nawab Akbar Bugti, voiced his support for talks with the government.

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts of "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Towards a New ‘Heartland’?"

By Omar Alam

China’s Pivot to Pakistan

In order to comprehend China’s recent efforts to bolster its relations with Pakistan, one must first understand the intricate interplay between the geopolitical and geoeconomic implications of closer ties between the two Asian nations, as exemplified by the gargantuan CPEC project. Close relations between the two countries are nothing new. However, what has qualitatively enhanced the relationship is the changing geopolitical context. With the drawdown of Western – and particularly, the United States’ – presence in Afghanistan, China seized the opportunity presented by the power vacuum to expand its regional sphere of influence and further its economic and strategic interests in Pakistan.

Laying the Foundations: Sino-Pakistani Agreements

The geostrategic significance of CPEC is heightened by earlier Sino-Pakistani agreements. Firstly, China has been granted 40-year operational control of the port of Gwadar on the Indian Ocean, strategically positioned close to the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. This will enable China to monitor its critical sea lines of communication, as 60 per cent of its crude oil imports pass through West Asia.

Once CPEC is completed and the port is fully operational, China will be able to ensure that a large share of its oil needs are secured via Gwadar, saving time and billions in costs. More importantly, the new route would circumvent the potentially vulnerable Strait of Malacca. This is all the more significant given the United States’ growing presence in the South China Sea, where it is seeking to expand its influence as part of its pivot to Asia. Thus, bypassing the Strait of Malacca would present China with the option to avoid potential confrontation with the US and diminish the strategic value of the United States’ navy – all while monitoring US naval activities 460 kilometers west of Karachi and still keeping a safe distance from Indian navy bases. Significantly, while Gwadar is being developed as a commercial port for civilian use, it could potentially be transformed into a military facility for China’s navy.

Another factor of relevance is Pakistan’s pledge to purchase eight Chinese diesel-powered attack submarines, in what analysts have referred to as China’s largest defence deal to date. In addition to entrenching China’s role as Pakistan’s foremost arms provider, the submarine fleet could potentially counter Indian attempts to blockade Pakistani ports on the Indian Ocean.

India’s Conundrum

Despite CPEC’s significant strategic implications for the country, India is yet to comprehensively articulate its stance vis-à-vis the economic corridor. CPEC is projected to cross Gilgit-Baltistan, part of the disputed territory of Kashmir, causing significant concern to India. Similarly, the prospect that Gwadar may one day become a Chinese naval base troubles New Delhi. Despite the fact that CPEC heightens the threat that the Sino-Pakistani partnership poses to India’s regional standing, there are signs of growing Sino-Indian economic interdependence. For instance, this is testified by a steady increase in bilateral trade, as well as China’s pledge to invest almost $20 billion USD in Indian infrastructure development projects. Indeed, CPEC is set to bolster economic relations in the region, potentially benefiting Indian trade and development as well. What is certain is that India cannot sit on the fence much longer, and ought to formulate a clear position regarding CPEC.




http://isnblog.ethz.ch/international-relations/china-pakistan-economic-corridor-towards-a-new-heartland

Riaz Haq said...

One Belt, One Road: #Chinese companies look west for growth- Nikkei Asian Review #CPEC #China #Pakistan http://s.nikkei.com/1RUmRbx
Kashgar, where Shandong Ruyi Science & Technology Group has chosen to build a new textile mill, lies on China's western reaches, about 300km from the border with Pakistan. But the unforgiving desert environment does not detract from the place's appeal to Chairman Qiu Yafu.

"From here, we will open a path to the vast markets of India, Pakistan and Central Asia," said Qiu, whose company owns Japanese apparel maker Renown.

This is not the only Chinese company going west. Scisky, a maker of water-based paint that counts itself among Ikea's suppliers, moved its headquarters from the city of Hefei near coastal Shanghai to Lanzhou in inland Gansu Province in 2014.

Lanzhou marked an important stop along the old Silk Road. The impetus for Chinese businesses' westward movement today comes partly from President Xi Jinping's vision of a new era of connectivity on the Eurasian landmass.

The slogan for this -- "One Belt, One Road" -- was introduced in 2013. But the idea builds on existing links. A railway already runs from China to Europe through Kazakhstan, and highway stretches from Kashgar into Pakistan. The Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which holds its opening ceremony Saturday, could help boost economic growth along these corridors. Chinese companies see market share to be had there.

Some are already satisfying infrastructure-related demand. Heavy equipment builder Zoomlion shipped 30-odd machines for road construction to Kyrgyzstan late last year. Domestic rival Sany Heavy Industry is hurrying to position itself in Turkey, India and other places where huge earthmoving projects are underway or in the works.

Lands of opportunity

Countries along the new Silk Road hold the promise of market growth. Tajikistan's population of 8.48 million is projected by the United Nations to swell to 14 million in 2050, while that of hydrocarbon-rich Kazakhstan, home to a burgeoning middle class, is seen rising 30%.

Gansu Province-based Lanzhou Lanshi Group, a maker of oil production and refining equipment, plans to open sales offices in India, Turkmenistan and four other countries by the first half. It aims to raise the proportion of foreign revenue from less than a tenth to more than half.

"New domestic orders have taken a blow from falling crude oil prices," sales manager Yang Gang said. "We're responding by prospecting in foreign markets."

------

China's trade with Pakistan and four other neighbors to the west surged in the past decade, topping $50 billion in 2013 -- about 15% the size of its trade with Japan. Although 2014 brought a decline as commodity prices slumped, westward trade will likely rebound as connectivity projects move from the drawing board to reality.

This will mean more opportunities for payment in yuan. Beijing aims to create an expansive commercial sphere where the redback, and not the greenback, serves as the principal currency. The AIIB fits into its strategy of undermining the U.S.-centered, dollar-dominated global financial order that arose after World War II.

The power of the yuan is growing visibly in the region. Soon after China devalued the currency by 2% last August, Kazakhstan allowed the tenge to float, in effect responding with its own deep devaluation.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's resource-rich territorial waters, as big as 30% of nation's landmass, being neglected by #Islamabad. http://tribune.com.pk/story/1030431/still-waters-pakistans-coastline-of-apathy/ …
Pakistan’s maritime zone is approximately 30% of its land mass – a region bigger than Punjab. Yet, the resource-rich marine remains a victim of abject apathy.

Special marine battalion to protect Gwadar Port, Chinese engineers

Last year in March, 50,000 square kilometres of continental shelf was added to the country’s existing 240,000 square kilometres after its claim was accepted by the United Nation’s Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf. As a result, Pakistan gained exclusive rights over the seabed and subsoil resources spread over 290,000 square kilometres in the Indian Ocean. The country’s sea limit was also extended from the existing 200 to 350 nautical miles.

Lack of awareness about the importance of maritime, however, meant that barely anyone noticed this significant development achieved through tedious diplomatic efforts. Let alone exploiting subsoil resources, Pakistan has also failed to explore the full potential of seafood exports. An official study claims Pakistan’s coastal area produces more than 625,000 tonnes of fish, out of which only 131,000 tonnes is exported. If fully materialised, the exports can fetch an additional $2 billion. Moreover, according to WWF-P, approximately 1,000 species of fish and 12 species of cetacean, or marine mammals, are found in Pakistan’s waters.

There are over 30,000 fishermen in Pakistan, with another 700,000 people associated with the trade. Many use trawlers and small nets to catch fish, a practice considered harmful for marine life. Unsustainable practices in fishing, destructive gear, uncontrolled fleet size, and poorly-planned development are other factors leading to untapped potential.

Fighting fit: A place of hope and healing

The developed coastal areas of Karachi and Port Qasim are facing an even graver threat. The sea there is being used a dumping ground for sewage and solid waste, resulting in heavy pollution at Karachi Harbour, Gharo and Phitti Creek.

Call of the deep blue

The sea is Pakistan’s lifeline for trade. More than 90% of the country’s trade with other countries along with all its oil imports are routed through the sea. By 2020, it is estimated that the volume of this trade will reach a staggering $100 billion. There is, however, a snag. Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, which is the national flag carrier, has only nine vessels, of which four are oil tankers. As a result, the country pays more than $4.5 billion to foreign freight carriers every year. In fact, having only four oil tankers of its own puts Pakistan in a vulnerable position, one an enemy state can easily exploit in the event of a conflict.

Pakistan has had a shipyard since 1954. The shipping industry, however, has remained in disarray, with little heed paid to its upkeep. Fortunately, the government seems to be stirring from its slumber and is now in the process of reviving it. After the catastrophic oil spill in Karachi by the MV Tasman Spirit in 2003, an urgent need was felt for the formulation of a comprehensive anti-pollution plan.

Special operations: Pakistan, Bahrain hold joint naval drill

Subsequently, a comprehensive National Marine Disaster Contingency Plan (NMDCP) was prepared to deal with all marine disasters, including oil spills, search and rescue, and salvage operations. The execution of NMDCP was ordered by the chairman of the Pakistan Marine Disaster Management Board, which is headed by the Chief of Naval Staff.

Riaz Haq said...

#Karachi-#Peshawar railway line being upgraded under #CPEC #Pakistan #China

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/22-Jan-2016/karachi-peshawar-railway-line-being-upgraded-under-cpec …

Feasibility study for rehabilitation and up-gradation of main railway line from Karachi to Peshawar is in progress under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

Ministry of Railways sources said the project will be completed by 2020 with the help of the Chinese government. On the completion of CPEC project, speed on main line will be increased from 105 KMPH to 160 KMPH.

Apart from this, five years plan is also being prepared for rehabilitation and improvement of railways track on the network.

Riaz Haq said...

#China to build its first overseas naval base at #Djibouti. #India #Pakistan #Africa #CPEC #Gwadar http://reut.rs/1UHH5b7 via @Reuters

China has launched an unusual charm offensive to explain its first overseas naval base in Djibouti, seeking to assuage global concerns about military expansionism by portraying the move as Beijing's contribution to regional security and development.

The message is in stark contrast to Beijing's more bellicose stance on the South China Sea, where its claims on a vital trade waterway have raised hackles across Asia and the United States.

China has repeatedly said it does not seek a U.S.-style "hegemony" by extending its military reach, including through bases abroad.

Now that it appears it may be doing precisely that, the government has been quietly briefing on its rationale for the Djibouti base and using state media to address fears of China's aims.

"China is explaining it as part of the 'one road, one belt' strategy, to help link Ethiopia to the sea," said one Western diplomat who has been briefed by Chinese officials on the Djibouti base, referring to China's New Silk Road strategy.

That involves opening trade corridors across continents that will help bolster the Chinese economy and connect it with the rest of the world.

A $4 billion railway will connect Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa to Djibouti's new Chinese-invested port, where a military facility will be located, according to Chinese media.

A second diplomat, also been briefed by China on the plans, said it was an "unusual" move by the normally secretive Chinese government to try and bring a degree of transparency to its plans.

"China does not want to be seen as a threat," the diplomat said.

INDIAN ALARM

In a lengthy statement to Reuters, China's Defence Ministry confirmed it had communicated its intentions about Djibouti to "relevant countries and international organizations", reiterating the facility was mostly for resupply purposes for anti-piracy, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.

"What needs to be stressed is that China upholds a path of peaceful development ... and has never engaged in an arms race or military expansion. This will never change."

Djibouti, which already hosts military facilities for the United States and France, has echoed Beijing's line that the base will be used for refueling and other logistical support to fight piracy and protect trade routes.

But it also says the West should not be worried if China seeks "military outposts", given that Western nations have had them for years around the world.

Construction began in February in the country of fewer than a million people, striving to be an international shipping hub.

Djibouti's location on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fueled worries in India that it will become another of China's "string of pearls" of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Indian military officials told Reuters that China's naval presence in Djibouti would add another dimension to India's military contingency planning, so far confined to land and air operations stemming from a decades-old border dispute with China across the Himalayas.

Together with China's involvement in Pakistan's Gwadar port, another potential military base, the role of China's navy would be greatly enhanced and posed a threat to the Indian navy, Indian army brigadier Mandip Singh said in a paper for the government-funded Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

"Djibouti also enables China to base its long-range naval air assets there. And these are capable of maintaining surveillance over the Arabian Sea as well as India's island territories off the Western coast," he wrote.

The Western diplomat briefed on the Chinese plans added: "If I were Indian I would be very worried about what China is up to in Djibouti."

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's #Gwadar port to handle 1 million tons cargo in 2017. Plans 300-400 million tons in future. #CPEC #China http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/expanded-chinese-operated-pakistani-port-on-46-billion-economic-corridor-almost-ready/


Reuters on Gwadar Port:


“We’re expecting at least one million tons of material will go in and out” next year, Zhang said, speaking at a day-long conference in Gwadar city.
The projected traffic represents a 100 percent increase over this year’s throughput, but is a far cry from the 300-400 million tons per year that the Gwadar Port Authority envisions for the facility, which has ambitions of becoming a regional hub.
Zhang acknowledged that Gwadar now had minuscule traffic – mostly Pakistani government-subsidised fertilizer imports – but he predicted a swift transformation in coming years.
Part of the problem is that the new roads that CPEC is expected to build, linking the port to China’s industrial zones, have not yet come online and the Pakistani province of Baluchistan does not have enough export-ready products.
“Even if you have a very good port, (if) you don’t have an inland transporting system and the economy in the near area is not very positive, the port will not be fully utilised,” he said.
He added that his company planned to develop seafood processing plants and other facilities in a 923 hectare free zone outside the port.

http://www.hellenicshippingnews.com/expanded-chinese-operated-pakistani-port-on-46-billion-economic-corridor-almost-ready/

Riaz Haq said...

#India's Answer To #China-#Pakistan #CPEC & #Gwadar Is #Chabahar Port In #Iran. India-Iran agree to fast-track it
http://www.ndtv.com/cheat-sheet/chabahar-port-in-iran-indias-key-to-central-asia-on-fast-track-10-developments-1396599

NEW DELHI: India and Iran agreed to fast-track the Chabahar port project that will open up access to central Asia, as Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj held talks during her first visit to the country on Sunday.
Here are 10 developments in the story:
The two countries decided in 2003 to develop Chabahar on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran's border with Pakistan.
The port in southeast Iran will allow India to bypass Pakistan to transport goods to Afghanistan and central Asia using a sea-land route.
Pakistan does not allow India to send goods through its territory to Afghanistan and has only recently begun to allow a trickle of Afghan exports to cross through to India.
The Chabahar project moved slowly because of the sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme, which have now been removed.
The two countries maintained a close relationship despite the US-led trade restrictions that halved their oil trade to 220,000 barrels per day in 2014.
India wants to develop the port as a counter to Pakistan's Gwadar port, which was built with Chinese assistance and is 72 km from Chabahar.
In February, the government cleared a 150 million dollar line of credit and the formation of a company in Iran to handle the project.
Sushma Swaraj, on a four-day tour of Iran and Russia, yesterday met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and said in a statement that he had spoken of Chabahar as a defining partnership which has the potential of connecting the entire region.
Chabahar is the first foreign port that India is directly involved in developing; it has the capacity to handle 2.5 million tonnes a year.
Chabahar is officially designated as a Free Trade and Industrial Zone by Iranian government. Due to its free trade zone status, the city has increased in significance in international trade.

Riaz Haq said...

#India's #Modi visits #Iran to woo #Teheran. New era in bilateral ties - or a missed opportunity? #Chabahar #Gwadar http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36329915

With the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorating, India is also looking to find various ways to maintain its foothold in the war-torn nation to counter Pakistani influence. With the land route to Afghanistan through Pakistan unavailable, it's looking at Iran to trade with Afghanistan.
India is investing more than $150m to develop Chabahar port in south-eastern Iran. It hopes the port will give a transit route to Afghanistan.
In the future, it also wants to bring gas from Central Asia and then transport it to India. The project will also give sea access to Afghanistan.
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"From India's perspective, Chabahar port is a gateway to Afghanistan. From Chabahar there is a road which goes all the way to Afghanistan and it will link up with a road which India has already built inside Afghanistan. In a way, India is ensuring that there could be no exit strategy from Afghanistan," says Mr Roy-Chaudhury.
Mr Modi plans to visit Kabul in June and he is expected to sign a trilateral trade agreement with Iran and Afghanistan for Chabahar port.

During his meeting with the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, Mr Modi would want to assure that India is keen to establish deeper and long-standing ties.
But Iranians may be a bit wary given their past experience.
------
India is home to the world's second highest Shia population, next only to Iran. Iran's influence over an estimated 45 million Shias in India is regarded as significant. With Iran emerging after international sanctions, it offers great investment opportunities to Indian companies.
But the bilateral ties suffered setbacks following international sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear programme. As successive Indian governments moved closer to the US, their Iran policy took a back seat, much to the displeasure of the Iranians.
Iranians were dismayed when India voted against their country at a vote in the International Atomic Energy Agency in 2009. Then India significantly reduced oil imports from Tehran following US pressure.
"That was a bitter lesson for the Iranians. They understood that India would not take Iran's side on any dispute and India would not sacrifice its relations with the US and the West for Iran," says Fatemeh Aman, an Iran-South Asia affairs analyst based in the US.
During his first two years at office, Mr Modi focused more on India's immediate neighbourhood and Indian Ocean rim countries. Relations with the United States and the west were given a priority.

----

When the international sanctions were in place, India could not pay for the oil it had imported from Iran. It still owes $6.5bn in unpaid dues and Delhi is still finding a way to facilitate the payment.
Western banks are still reluctant to do business with Iran when some of the US sanctions are still in place.
India is aware that China is making inroads into Iran to rebuild the economy devastated by the sanctions. The Chinese president, Xi Jinping, visited Iran in January this year to firm up business ties. Beijing is already Iran's largest trading partner.

Riaz Haq said...

Facebook page with pictures of Gwadar Port City

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1185860634782083.1073741831.955416671159815&type=3

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan saw 23% growth in airline passengers in 2015; #Gwadar airport growth fastest at 73% #CPEC http://www.anna.aero/2015/09/02/pakistan-sees-a-rise-in-airline-seat-capacity-of-23/ … via @annaaero

Pakistan’s commercial airports have seen major growth in capacity in the past 12 months, as S15 seat capacity is showing a rise of 23%. Of all the airports in Pakistan, the one that is recording the greatest growth in capacity is Gwadar (13th largest in S15), which is showing an increase in capacity of 73%. A total of eight airports are recording a growth rate over the past 12 months that is greater than 60%, with four of these airports being in the top 12 (highlighted in light green). Only one airport is showing a decline in capacity when compared with S14, Skardu. The 14th largest airport in 2015 was the 11th biggest last year. However, the facility has witnessed a decline in seat capacity of 14% according to OAG Schedules Analyser. In the top 12, the airport order pretty much remains constant, with Multan (+64%), Quetta (+62%) and Faisalabad (+61%) all climbing one place as a result of all of them seeing a growth of over 60%. Turbat is a new airport to the top 12 (13th in S14) as a result of Skardu’s capacity decrease.

After seeing a rise in capacity of nearly 26%, the domestic market is the largest in Pakistan. The country market that is recording the best growth in the top 12 is Sri Lanka. The country pair is served by two routes to Colombo from Karachi and Lahore, with the latter only being launched in November last year with a twice-weekly service operated by Mihin Lanka. Services to Karachi have seen an increase in capacity of 11%, a sector flown by SriLankan Airlines. Of the country markets in the top 12, the only one to show a decline in capacity is Kuwait. In total there are three connections between Kuwait City and Pakistan for S15 (same as in S14), Lahore (-6%), Islamabad (+1%) and Sialkot (-23%). Surprisingly Karachi, the largest airport in Pakistan relating to seat capacity, does not have a direct service to Kuwait.

Over the past 12 months, Turkish Airlines has grown seat capacity out of Pakistan by 38%, beating the MEB3 carriers of Emirates (+13%), Qatar Airways (+28%) and Etihad Airways (+18%). What should also be noted is that Emirates’ sister airline, flydubai (highlighted in light green), has now overtaken Etihad Airways in relation to the monthly seat capacity on offer by both airlines in S15, helped by the carrier reporting a growth in capacity of 66%, and climbing from 12th spot in 2014 to eighth in 2015 in relation to Pakistan’s top 12 airlines. This has been helped in part by the airline recently launching services from Dubai to Faisalabad. Nonetheless the number one out of Pakistan remains the country’s national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines. The airline has reported a growth in capacity when compared to the same time period of last year of 25%. None of the airlines in the top 12 are reporting seat capacity reductions in S15. However, Air Indus is showing a consistent pattern with 0% growth and offering the same amount of seats as S14, but growth from Airblue means that the airline drops to fifth in S15 from fourth in last year.

Riaz Haq said...

#China and #Pakistan pin hopes on Arabian Sea port of #Gwadar. #CPEC https://www.ft.com/content/06388212-855b-11e6-8897-2359a58ac7a5 … via @FT

From the window of his plush office, Dostain Jamaldini, the moustachioed chairman of the Gwadar Port Authority, looks upon the mostly deserted, three-berth deep seaport that he argues could one day rival Dubai, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Presently, no cargo ship is visible in the tranquil Arabian Sea waters — just the small fishing trawlers.

But Mr Jamaldini says the empty port, built with Chinese financial and technical help at a cost of $248m, finished nearly a decade ago and barely used since, will buzz with traffic by December 2017. By that time, Gwadar should be linked by road to the rest of Pakistan, a key part of the plan to create a vibrant and bustling hub.

“Gwadar has the potential to become one of the world’s biggest ports,” he says. “Once we have connectivity, the port will see traffic. We are now waiting for the road.”

The long-anticipated road is slated to be a modern highway network that seamlessly links Gwadar to China’s Xinjiang province, giving the landlocked Chinese region access to the Indian Ocean. A train should run alongside and Beijing also wants to build oil pipelines from Gwadar to western China, potentially a quicker and easier route for supply from the Gulf.

Yet realising this ambitious vision requires extensive ground infrastructure in Balochistan — one of Pakistan’s poorest, most troubled provinces, with a long history of armed separatist insurgency. Analysts say the region’s volatility could prove an obstacle to realising the $46bn China-Pakistan economic corridor.

In August, Quetta, Balochistan’s provincial capital, was rocked by a sophisticated suicide bomb that killed 70 people, many of them lawyers. Pakistan — which has established a 15,000-man security force to protect the infrastructure and the Chinese engineers — publicly called the attack an attempt to disrupt the massive development.

------
Prime minister Narendra Modi electrified Indians — and raised the hackles of the Pakistan establishment — in August when he proclaimed New Delhi’s moral support for residents of Pakistan’s troubled Balochistan province.
Islamabad has long accused its rival, India, of covertly assisting Balochistan’s separatist insurgents. But former US officials say Washington has never found evidence of Indian military aid beyond New Delhi’s hospitality for Baluchi leaders. Speculation is mounting that New Delhi could be poised to do what Pakistan has always suspected — as it seeks a new, more muscular approach to a neighbour that it blames for numerous terror attacks on its soil.
But security analysts say the prospect of Indian aid for Baluchi rebels is limited by its lack of direct access to the territory. “Actual physical assistance is going to be incredibly difficult,” says Sumit Ganguly, an Indiana University professor. “Geography imposes a certain kind of constraint.”
Chinese analysts also play down the likelihood of India deliberately targeting a Chinese-developed infrastructure project. “It is unlikely that India will act to directly disrupt the CPEC,” Mao Siwei, China’s former consul-general in Kolkata, told the Financial Times. “But strained India-Pakistan relations are extremely detrimental.”

Riaz Haq said...

Regional cooperation forum: #CAREC offers avenues for deeper economic links among Stans #CentralAsia #Pakistan #CPEC

http://tribune.com.pk/story/1215393/regional-cooperation-forum-carec-offers-avenues-deeper-economic-links/

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan recently hosted the 15th meeting of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (Carec), a body working for the collective benefit of the region by promoting economic cooperation.

Pakistan is increasingly looking at Central Asian states in an effort to forge trade links and give a fillip to its dwindling exports. However, so far, it has not been able to tap the full trade potential because of lack of infrastructure for connecting the South and Central Asia regions.

Carec is also pushing ahead with plans to encourage regional connectivity to enhance the trade volume.

In the Carec meeting, more than 200 participants from 10 member states and multilateral development partners participated. The member countries included Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan while Georgia took part as an observer.

Carec is an important forum that encourages regional countries to develop physical networks and infrastructure and ensure peace, stability and economic development.

Strategies and initiatives were highlighted at the huddle to stimulate much-needed investment in energy sector of the member states. After a briefing on selected case studies undertaken by Carec members including Pakistan, prominent investors shared their insights to identify and make investments in energy projects.

Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appreciated that Carec had mobilised $29 billion for pouring into regional development projects and voiced hope that a mid-term review of the regional body in the next 10 years would prove to be an opportunity to fast-track economic cooperation.

The regional connectivity may lead to economic development and prosperity of the region. In this connection, Pakistan is working on energy projects such as the Central Asia-South Asia 1,000-megawatt (Casa-1,000) power import project and the Tapi gas pipeline that will start from Turkmenistan.

The Casa-1,000 is also going to pave the way for digital connectivity between the two regions through a fibre optic cable network called Digital Casa-I, which will link Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The existing cable reaches Pakistan after going through a long route. It first goes to Russia, extends to Europe and then comes to Pakistan.

The new project will provide a good route to connect the two regions. It will allow regional countries to become independent while tapping the international internet channels.

CPEC support

In his welcome address at the Carec ministerial meeting on the theme “Linking connectivity with economic transformation”, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) programme, which Pakistan had undertaken, would complement regional connectivity initiatives of Carec members.

He stressed that the CPEC offered a massive opportunity for connectivity between Central Asia, Middle East and Africa and was bound to play a defining role in economic development of the two regions.

Dar said improving the transport corridor was not an end in itself but it was an investment in establishing sound infrastructure and complementary frameworks for shared prosperity of the present and future generations in the region.


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The markets of Central Asian states and Russia are open and this is the area where Pakistan needs to increasingly focus on.

With an air of distrust between Islamabad and Washington over the latter’s inclination towards Delhi, China and Russia could not only support Pakistan’s economy, but they will also block India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan in the international arena. To achieve all that, Pakistan needs to forge deeper links with the Central Asia region and Carec can play a decisive role in that connection.

Riaz Haq said...

Fast track completion of CPEC projects to change the infrastructure development landscape of the country

Western Route of China-Pakistan Economic will be completed by 2018. Gawadar-Quetta Road will be completed by next month, ahead of its scheduled time. Now Gwadar is connected with Quetta, Afghanistan, Central Asian states and rest of the country through this route. Work on Dera Ismail Khan-Quetta Road has also been initiated. Dera Ismail Khan-Burhan Road will be completed by year 2018. Special attention has been given to Sindh and Balochistan in CPEC projects.

http://www.radio.gov.pk/07-Nov-2016/fast-track-completion-of-cpec-projects-to-change-the-infrastructure-development-landscape-of-the

Riaz Haq said...

CPEC to strengthen CAREC by expanding north-south corridor:


The primary north-south transport corridor in Pakistan runs from Torkham on the northern border with Afghanistan and passes through primary production and population centres such as Peshawar, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Multan, and Khanewal, before reaching the port city of Karachi in the south. The corridor serves the economy of an area that accounts for 80 percent to 85 percent of the country’s GDP and in the regional context, forms an integral part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) corridors 5 and 6 after Pakistan's accession to the CAREC Programme in 2010.

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The M-4 Motorway, linking Faisalabad with Khanewal, would be completed by July 2018, said National Highway Authority (NHA) member Mansoor Ahmed Sirohey on Friday.

He told journalists that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is the leading financer in M-4 Motorway, as the bank disbursed $170 million (77 percent share of the project) in 2009 for construction of a 58km four-lane motorway M-4, connecting Faisalabad to Gojra (section I). This section was completed in December 2014.

Similarly, the ADB would provide 56.15 percent share of the funding of the section II of the M-4, which will construct the 62km four-lane access controlled motorway connecting Gojra and Shorkot. Meanwhile, government of the United Kingdom would provide grant of 29.02 percent and Pakistan would release share of 14.83 percent. The project is expected to complete by 2018, he added.

Sirohey said that contract for section-III of the motorway linking Shorkot to Khanewal has been signed and construction is expected to commence in December 2016. The ADB noted that M-4 Motorway in Punjab, linking Faisalabad with Khanewal, will cut travel time and support the government's broader goal of improved investment and trade flows along the country's vital north-south corridor route. Once fully completed, the M-4 Motorway will provide a faster, safer, more cost-effective north-south route to the currently overburdened national highway 5 and other existing narrow and congested routes.

http://nation.com.pk/business/19-Nov-2016/project-to-be-completed-in-2018-nha-member

Riaz Haq said...

#American engineers find #India's home-made first aircraft carrier is a dud. Need another 10 years to make it work http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2016/11/30/u-s-effort-to-help-india-build-up-navy-hits-snag/?mod=e2fb When top American naval engineers recently inspected India’s first locally made aircraft carrier they expected to find a near battle-ready ship set to help counter China’s growing sway in the Indian Ocean.

Instead, they discovered the carrier wouldn’t be operational for up to a decade and other shortcomings: no small missile system to defend itself, a limited ability to launch sorties and no defined strategy for how to use the ship in combat. The findings alarmed U.S. officials hoping to enlist India as a bulwark against China, people close to the meeting said.

“China’s navy will be the biggest in the world soon, and they’re definitely eyeing the Indian Ocean with ports planned in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” said retired Admiral Arun Prakash, the former commander of India’s navy. “The Indian navy is concerned about this.”

The February carrier inspection, in the port of Kochi, formed part of U.S. plans to share aircraft carrier technology with India. Indian naval officials followed up with a tour of an American shipbuilding yard in Virginia and strategy briefings at the Pentagon in September, the people close to the meetings said.

The U.S. and India are drawing closer politically and militarily. The two have participated in joint naval exercises with Japan. The U.S. has agreed to sell New Delhi everything from attack helicopters to artillery. Washington has approved proposals by Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co. to make advanced jet fighters in India. And in August, the two countries signed a military logistics-sharing accord.