Sunday, December 11, 2016

What is Junaid Jamshed's Legacy? Did India Isolate Pakistan at HoA?

What legacy did Junaid Jamshed leave for Pakistan with his untimely and tragic death in PIA PK661 Air Crash in Havelian, KP?  What did Junaid Jamshed's life as a celebrity signify for his fans?  How did his life parallel Pakistan's shift to the right from 1980s to 2000s? What contribution did Junaid Jamshed make to Pakistani music scene? Will Pakistan remember him for his contribution to Pakistani pop music? Or for his transformation into a preacher? Or for his success as an entrepreneur? Or all of the above?


Did Indian Prime Minster Modi and Afghan President Ghani succeed in isolating Pakistan at the Heart of Asia conference in Amritsar, India? Did diplomats from other nations buy what Indian and Afghan said about Pakistan? Why did the Russian diplomat Mr. Zamir Kabulov reject the Indian attempt to hijack the multilateral conference on Afghanistan to use it to attack Pakistan? What have the American commanders, particularly serving General Nicholson and retired General Petraeus, said about external interference in Afghanistan? Who do they blame for the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan? Do they single out Pakistan?


Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Ali H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)


https://youtu.be/ZHnQAQ67Kqs





https://vimeo.com/195242091



Did India Isolate Pakistan at HoA What is Junaid Jamshed's Legacy from Ikolachi on Vimeo.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Pakistan's Other Story

Pakistan's War is Cultural, not Military!

Coke Studio: Music Drives Coke Sales in Pakistan

Are Iran and Russia Aiding Afghan Taliban?

Gen Petraeus Debunks Charges of Pakistani Duplicity

Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq on India vs Pakistan

Impact of Trump's Top Picks on Pakistan

Husain Haqqani Advising Trump on Pakistan Policy?

Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative on Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-US-Japan

Robert Gates' Straight Talk on Pakistan

11 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

A top Pakistan Foreign Ministry official has said that “some” members of the terrorist Haqqani network are present in the country, but Islamabad is not allowing any group to conduct terrorist activities in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry has made the rare admission in an interview to the state-run Pakistani television PTV broadcast Sunday.

The United States has designated the Haqqani network and its leadership as global terrorists for carrying out high-profile deadly attacks against American and allied forces in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and U.S. officials allege Haqqanis operate out of sanctuaries in Pakistan, a charge Islamabad rejects.

“The Haqqani Network is actually part of the Taliban. Most of their people are in Afghanistan, most of them, and some of them are present here (in Pakistan),” said Chaudhry.

Chaudhry asserted the Pakistani leadership is sticking to its pledges of not allowing any individual or group to use Pakistan’s soil for terrorist activities.

“We have also explicitly given the same message to the Taliban and Haqqanis that you must not indulge in any terrorist activity or violence in Afghanistan,” he said. “And if you can’t mend your ways and live peacefully like millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, then you better leave the country because Pakistani soil cannot welcome you and the space would be squeezed on you.”

Consequently, most of the insurgents went back to Afghanistan where 10 percent of the territory is now controlled by the Taliban, Chaudhry said citing U.S. military estimates.

----

Speaking earlier this month in Washington, U.S. commander of international forces in Afghanistan General John Nicholson warned the Haqqanis still pose the greatest threat to Americans and to their coalition partners and to the Afghans.

“And they remain a principal concern of ours. And they, and they do enjoy sanctuary inside Pakistan,” the general added.

Chaudhry urged President Ghani to prevent anti-Pakistan militants from “roaming freely” on his side of the border and carry out attacks in Pakistan on “mere assumptions” that Islamabad harbors anti-Kabul militants.

If the Afghan side believes mere allegations against Pakistan would help solve Afghanistan’s problems “then let them believe so. It would not get them anywhere,” he added.

Afghan officials deny they have anything to do with the militants linked to anti-state Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, though Pakistani officials point to killings of a number of leaders of the group in Afghanistan this year by U.S. drone attacks.

Islamabad hosted a preliminary round of peace talks between Kabul and Taliban officials in July 2015, the first direct contact between Afghan warring sides in 15 years. Chaudhry along with U.S. and Chinese officials attended the negotiations as monitors.

But since then the war has intensified, fueling tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan over Islamabad’s alleged backing of the insurgency.

http://www.voanews.com/a/pakistan-afghanistan-haqqani-network/3632052.html

Riaz Haq said...

#India cautions #Russia and #Iran against engaging with #Afghan #Taliban http://toi.in/8OXRYa via @timesofindia

NEW DELHI: India sounded a warning on Thursday to countries like Russia and Iran, which appear to be trying to change the ground situation in Afghanistan by engaging Taliban politically.

In a response, MEA spokesperson said, "In so far as the Taliban is concerned, they have to respect the internationally agreed red lines, give up terrorism and violence, sever all ties with al-Qaida, agree to follow democratic norms and not do anything which will erode the gains of the last 15 years."

This is an unusual cautionary note from India aimed at its oldest strategic partner. Even though India prefers to treat Russia with kid gloves, it feels Moscow's latest moves in Afghanistan have the potential to stir serious trouble. MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop stressed India and Russia's special relationship.


"We do not see any downward trend in our bilateral relationship," he said. But it is clear that India has been disturbed by recent events.




Addressing Afghanistan's upper house on the weekend, Russian envoy Alexander Mantytskiy was quoted as saying, "Zamir Kabulov (a high-ranking official in Russia's foreign ministry) said our interests are the same as Taliban in fighting Daesh." Russia now says it regards Taliban as a "national military-political movement", but IS as a global jihadist movement that could destabilise Russia's 'near abroad' - central Asia

Even Iran has been reaching out to Taliban, with the aim of keeping IS out of the Afghan region. According to an Iranian news agency, an influential Iranian cleric declared this week that Tehran has invited "moderate figures such as Taliban" to attend a conference on international Islamic Unity, saying, "Iran has always held contacts with some parties in the Taliban movement."




Iran denies any ties with Taliban, but Afghan officials have recently accused Tehran of not only harbouring families of senior Taliban commanders, but supplying them with sophisticated weapons that are destabilising the country.

Riaz Haq said...

#Russia throws its weight behind #CPEC, #China-#Pakistan corridor, keeps #India on tenterhooks http://toi.in/eJCcoa via @timesofindia

Russia's nebulous public position on its growing ties with Pakistan continues to give sleepless nights to Indian policymakers who have sought to isolate Islamabad on the issue of terrorism.
After it officially denied reports that it had shown any interest in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Moscow has not just declared strong support for the China-funded project but also announced its intention to link its own Eurasian Economic Union project with CPEC.
CPEC, which will link Gwadar in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province to Xinjiang in China, remains a major bugbear for Indian foreign policy as it passes through the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (Pok) claimed by India. Beijing has shown scant regard for India's concerns despite PM Narendra Modi himself having taken up the issue of Chinese involvement in the disputed territory with President Xi Jinping.
Moscow last month emphatically denied Pakistan media reports that it was looking to involve itself in CPEC by acquiring access to the port built by China at Gwadar. Russia's ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Y Dedov has now been quoted as saying that Russia and Pakistan have held discussions to merge Moscow's Eurasian Economic Union project with the CPEC.
Dedov said Russia "strongly" supported CPEC as it was important for Pakistan's economy and also regional connectivity.
The mixed signals emanating from Moscow, as strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney said, are injecting uncertainty in the direction of the Russia-India relationship whose trajectory long epitomized constancy and stability.

"It is as if Moscow no longer sees India as a reliable friend or partner. Indeed, by seeking common cause with India's regional adversaries — including by supporting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through internationally disputed territory and engaging with the Pakistan-backed Taliban — Russia is challenging India's core interests," said Chellaney.

India continues to officially maintain that it doesn't see any "downward trend" in relations with Russia even as it works behind the scenes to convince Moscow that Pakistan remained the fountainhead of terrorism in the region. For India though, Russia further queered the situation in Afghanistan by declaring that it regarded Afghan Taliban as a national military-political movement. Russia is looking to engage the Taliban apparently to defeat IS but, as the MEA spokesperson warned last week, India wants any engagement with Taliban to respect the internationally recognized red lines, including giving up violence and severing ties with al-Qaida.
The comments made by Dedov are only the latest in a series of Russian doublespeak on Pakistan this year. As it officially conveyed to Moscow, India was disturbed by Russia's decision to hold its first ever joint military exercise with Pakistan days after Uri terror strike which left 19 Indian soldiers dead. The Russians justified it by saying that the exercise was meant to help Pakistan deal with terrorism

At the Brics Goa summit in October, Russia chose not to help India publicly name Pakistan based terrorist outfits like Lashkar and Jaish in the official declaration in the face of Chinese resistance.
Russia continues to insist that its ties with Pakistan will not come at India's cost. Asked about the Russia-Pakistan military exercise though, at the recent Heart of Asia conference, Russia's presidential envoy to Pakistan Zamir Kabulov said Moscow didn't complain about India's close cooperation with the US and so India also shouldn't complain about "much low level" of cooperation between Russia and Pakistan. India may or may not complain, but it's certainly watching with eyes wide open.

Riaz Haq said...

#Russia Publicly Favors #Pakistan Over #India. #Modi #BJP http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/12/russia-publicly-favors-pakistan-vs-india/ … via @ValueWalk

When Russia rejected India’s efforts in November to isolate Pakistan politically, tensions between Moscow and New Delhi reached their peak. While concerns are rising within the Indian government, Russia continues to warm up to Pakistan and has recently shown interest in Pakistan’s joint project with China, the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Earlier this month, Alexey Dedov, the Russian Ambassador to Pakistan, declared Russia’s strong support for the upcoming lucrative project. He also announced that Russia wants to link the Eurasian Economic Union project with the CPEC, a move that would further deteriorate relations between Moscow and New Delhi.

The CPEC is a sensitive issue for India because the project passes through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region in Kashmir. By backing the project, Russia automatically declares its support for Pakistan’s position in the long-standing Kashmir issue, a major development in Russian-Indian relations that could end their seven-decade friendship once and for all.

-----

India is worried that its nearly 70-year friendship with Russia is about to end. Russia is warming up to India’s biggest historical enemy, Pakistan, which inevitably has led to tensions between New Delhi and Moscow. So even though India and Russia were very close for nearly seven decades, Russia-Indian relations have come crashing down over the last two years.

Geopolitics is the reason the relationship between the two countries is deteriorating. Moscow and New Delhi have backed one another on the international diplomatic sphere for decades. But when Russia refused to support India’s bid to turn Pakistan into a pariah state this year, Moscow took a major step away from its friendship with New Delhi.

Russia and India may have signed large-scale military deals over the past seven decades, but when Moscow held its first-ever joint military drills this year with Pakistan – India’s biggest adversary – it was a sign that Russia is trying to send a message.

Last week, Moscow and Islamabad held their first-ever foreign office consultations, leaving India understandably worried that Russia is further deepening its ties to Pakistan. During those consultations in Islamabad, Russian and Pakistani officials discussed a wide variety of regional issues and pointed out some areas of mutual interest, including economic cooperation.

According to the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistani and Russian officials “exchanged views on important global and regional developments.” The ministry added in the statement that “it was also decided that the next round of consultations will be convened in Moscow in 2017.”

Just last year, nobody in their right mind would believe that Russia could make friends with its Cold War rival Pakistan. But by selling four Mi-35M helicopters to Pakistan in 2015, Russia mutely announced huge changes in its geopolitical strategies. Then in October 2015, Russia and Pakistan held their first-ever joint military exercises labeled “Druzhba” (friendship), which sent India into frenzy. However, India remained mute about the drills for the most part because it still has a number of pending military deals with Russia it doesn’t want to lose over its resentment.



Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan, #Russia & #China to hold trilateral meeting on regional issues including #Afghanistan in #Moscow. #India

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/pakistan-to-attend-trilateral-meet-with-russia-and-china-4440521/

Pakistan Thursday said its foreign secretary will travel to Russia to participate in a trilateral meeting with Russia and China next week which will discuss key regional issues including peace process in Afghanistan.
“The Foreign Secretary will lead the Pakistani delegation in this meeting. This is an existing forum for undertaking informal discussions on issues of regional peace and stability, including situation in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at the weekly press briefing here.
The trilateral meeting will be held on December 27 and peace in Afghanistan will be on the top of the agenda due to increasing threat of ISIS to Central Asia, which is considered as Russian backyard.
There are also reports of contacts between Taliban and Russian officials as the latter recognise the importance of Taliban in checking the threat of ISIS. Zakaria said peace and stability in Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan and the entire region.
“In this spirit, we remain committed and extend all cooperation to the efforts towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan has played a very positive role in bringing warring factions to the negotiating table. Whenever we are approached to help bring the warring factions to the negotiating table, we will assist,” he said.

Riaz Haq said...

Ahmed Rashid on Unocal deal with Taliban


Unocal, backed by US, was in talks with the Taliban to build an oil pipeline from Central Asia to Pakistan through Afghanistan in late 1990s before 911 attacks.

https://books.google.com/books?id=Jwv4AgAAQBAJ&pg=PT183&lpg=PT183&dq=ahmed+rashid+taliban+unocal&source=bl&ots=yNanA4gtFX&sig=-kEHecBfdDi8c2796Ya5P_gLWyA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiC0v_g1I_RAhXmhFQKHfPNCvgQ6AEIIDAB#v=onepage&q=ahmed%20rashid%20taliban%20unocal&f=false

Riaz Haq said...

#China, #Pakistan, #Russia to Meet on #Afghanistan, Angering #Kabul Leaders. #Taliban #ISIS #India #Washington

http://www.voanews.com/a/china-pakistan-russia-to-meet-on-afghanistan-angering-kabul-leaders/3651066.html

Top Foreign Ministry officials from China, Pakistan and Russia will meet in Moscow on Tuesday to review what they perceive as a "gradually growing" threat to their frontiers posed by Islamic State extremists in Afghanistan.

"This is an existing forum for undertaking informal discussions on issues of regional peace and stability, including the situation in Afghanistan," Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told VOA.

Pakistan's foreign secretary, Aizaz Chaudhry, will lead Islamabad's delegation, he added. Officials say future meetings could include Iran.

Chinese, Pakistani and Russian officials say they were driven to joint action by the efforts of IS affiliates to establish a foothold in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's national unity government has reportedly questioned the motives of the trilateral dialogue, which will take place without Kabul being represented.

Russian officials maintain the "working group on Afghanistan" is one of several initiatives Moscow has undertaken with regional countries, including Afghanistan, to develop a "wider partnership" for containing IS influence.

Beijing, Islamabad and Moscow say the three-way talks will also explore ways to bring the Taliban to the table for peace talks with the Afghan government. All three governments maintain overt contacts with the insurgent group.

Russia and officials in Pakistan argue that military operations by the U.S.-led international forces and their Afghan partners have not weakened the Taliban but instead created ungoverned areas where terrorist groups like IS, also known as Daesh, can establish a foothold.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told the U.N. Security Council last week that the deteriorating security situation has encouraged IS militants fleeing Syria and Iraq to look at Afghanistan for shelter. He said they will eventually pose a threat to Russia through neighboring central Asian states.

Using another acronym for IS, he said, "There is also information about the presence in Afghanistan of ISIL camps and safe harbors where people from central Asian states and northern Caucasus republics are being trained and where 700 terrorist families from Syria have already arrived."

Churkin again rejected Afghan and U.S. concerns that Moscow's overt ties to the Taliban are meant to undermine international efforts aimed at establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

"Our contacts with representatives of Taliban are limited to the task of providing for the security of Russian nationals in Afghanistan and also aimed at moving the Taliban towards joining with the process of national reconciliation," he said.

Pakistani officials say Russia is eager to include Iran in future meetings of the tripartite "working group" and that the issue will be taken up at Tuesday's meeting. Iran borders both Afghanistan and Iraq, where IS is present, and is fighting Islamist insurgents among other anti-regime forces in Syria.

While U.S. counterterrorism forces in partnership with Afghan forces have conducted major operations against IS fighters, the Taliban have also engaged in clashes with the rival group to deny it space in Afghanistan. Russian officials say they are developing ties with the Taliban to prevent IS influence from spreading into Afghan border provinces.

Riaz Haq said...

#Russia, #Pakistan, #China warn of increased #ISIS (#Daesh) threat in #Afghanistan. #India #Taliban http://reut.rs/2i3xLkN via @Reuters

Russia, China and Pakistan warned on Tuesday that the influence of Islamic State (IS) was growing in Afghanistan and that the security situation there was deteriorating.

Representatives from the three countries, meeting in Moscow, also agreed to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"(The three countries) expressed particular concern about the rising activity in the country of extremist groups including the Afghan branch of IS," ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters after the meeting.

The United States, which still has nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan more than 15 years after the Islamist Taliban were toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces, was not invited to the Moscow talks.

The gathering, the third in a series of consultations between Russia, China and Pakistan that has so far excluded Kabul, is likely to deepen worries in Washington that it is being sidelined in negotiations over Afghanistan's future.

Officials in Kabul and Washington have said that Russia is deepening its ties with Taliban militants fighting the government, though Moscow has denied providing aid to the insurgents.

Zakharova said Russia, China and Pakistan had "noted the deterioration of the security situation (in Afghanistan)".

The three countries agreed a "flexible approach to remove certain figures from sanctions lists as part of efforts to foster a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement," she added.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month asked the United Nations to add the Taliban's new leader to its sanctions list, further undermining a stalled peace process.

Earlier on Tuesday, Afghan Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni said Kabul had not been properly briefed about the Moscow meeting.

"Discussion about the situation in Afghanistan, even if well-intentioned, in the absence of Afghans cannot help the real situation and also raises serious questions about the purpose of such meetings," he said.

A number of Afghan provincial capitals have come under pressure from the Taliban this year while Afghan forces have been suffering high casualty rates, with more than 5,500 killed in the first eight months of 2016.

An offshoot of Islamic State has claimed responsibility for several attacks in the last year.

Riaz Haq said...

#Russia, #China support taking #Afghan #Taliban off #UN sanctions list. #India #Pakistan #Terrorism

http://tribune.com.pk/story/1277084/russia-china-favour-taking-taliban-off-un-sanctions-list/

Russia and China, being permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have decided to work towards delisting the Afghan Taliban from the world body’s sanctions list in a move, they said, is aimed at launching peaceful dialogue between Afghanistan’s government and insurgent groups.

The announcement came in a joint statement issued after the trilateral meeting involving senior officials from Pakistan, Russia and China. The three-way talks that discussed the current situation of Afghanistan were held in Moscow on Tuesday.

Interestingly, Afghanistan was not part of the discussions, causing concerns in Kabul. The joint communique, however, said all the three countries agreed to proceed with consultations in an expanded format and would welcome the participation of Afghanistan.

The most significant takeaway of the Moscow meeting was Russia and China’s announcement to show a ‘flexible approach’ to delisting Afghan individuals from the UN sanctions lists as their contribution to the efforts aimed at launching peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban.

The participants agreed to continue their efforts towards further facilitating the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan according to the known principles of reintegration of the armed opposition into peaceful life, the joint statement reads.

It was not immediately clear how Afghanistan’s government and the United States would react to the move by Beijing and Moscow to remove some Afghan Taliban commanders from the UN sanctions list.

The development, nevertheless, is an indication that both Russia and China are now flexing their muscles to play a more proactive role in the Afghan peace process that could not make any headway due to the current hiccup in ties between Kabul and Islamabad.

The Ghani administration has accused Pakistan of providing sanctuaries to the Afghan Taliban leadership and the Haqqani network. It also asked Islamabad to use force against these groups since Taliban refused to enter into the negotiations.

Pakistan, however, made it clear that it does not harbour any Taliban on its soil and insisted that all-inclusive peace process is the only way forward to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Observers believe that the outcome of trilateral meeting in Moscow is a major diplomatic success for Pakistan since two big powers—Russia and China—vindicated its stance by supporting the Afghan peace process. More importantly, this also showed increased cooperation between Pakistan and Russia, which during the cold-war era were in opposite camps mainly due to the Afghan conflict.

The trilateral meeting in Moscow also means that Pakistan, Russia and China have now convergence of opinion on how to deal with the long running conflict in Afghanistan, where the Da’ish is also trying to establish a foothold.

Kabul slams tripartite meeting in Moscow

The three-way talks in Moscow minced no words in expressing concerns over what they called the ‘deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan’.

They particularly voiced concern regarding the increased activities of extremist groups, including Da’ish-affiliates in the country.

Riaz Haq said...

#Russia's tilt towards #Pakistan will be a body blow for #India's security. #China #Afghanistan http://www.dailyo.in/politics/isis-india-pak-ties-russia-pakistan-afghanistan-ties-cpec-china-taliban/story/1/14918.html … via @dailyo_

At a high-level meeting held in Moscow on December 27, 2016, representatives from Russia, China and Pakistan underlined the growing influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Afghanistan and the deteriorating security situation in the region.

According to the statement issued at the end of the meeting: "The Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China as the UN Security Council permanent members confirmed their flexible approach to delisting Afghan individuals from the UN sanctions lists as their contribution to the efforts aimed at launching peaceful dialogue between Kabul and Taliban."

What has surprised everyone is the exclusion of Afghanistan from the negotiations, apparently aimed at discussing the security situation in conflict-ridden Afghanistan. This trilateral initiative stands in open contrast to the publicly-stated positions of all the countries of supporting the Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process. Sensing the mounting Afghan opposition, the group has finally decided to include Afghanistan in the next meeting. While Iran is soon going to be part of the group, there is no proposal to involve India.

Much to India's disappointment, the emerging axis between Moscow, Islamabad and Beijing seems to have put Pakistan in the driver's seat, according it greater control over the future of Afghanistan.

Russia's diplomatic efforts to accommodate the Taliban as an instrument against the ISIS, in tandem with Pakistan and China, may also have unexpected ramifications for Indo-Russian ties. The Indian leadership, both publicly and behind diplomatic corridors, has been trying to convince Russia that Pakistan is the fountainhead of terrorism in the region. But India's traditional ally Russia is not convinced.

Even though Russia' diplomatic engagement with the Taliban has begun to strain Moscow-Kabul ties, as well as put Russia's historic and strategic partnership with India at great risk, Moscow's engagement with the Taliban is driven by a number of counterterrorism and security reasons.

Russian foreign policymakers believe that engagement with the Taliban is essential for maintaining long-term political stability in Afghanistan; Moscow can use the Taliban's opposition to Islamic State (ISIS) to further Russia's counter-terrorism objectives; and Pakistan's role is crucial in bringing peace to war-torn Afghanistan.

The Russian leadership views the Taliban as a useful partner in its fight against the ISIS. Putin has long worried about jihadists from former Soviet republics joining the ISIS' fight in Syria. For this very reason, Russia sees ISIS as a particular threat in a way it doesn't see Taliban.

Riaz Haq said...

#China makes worldwide ports' investments as great maritime power. #CPEC #Gwadar #Pakistan https://ig.ft.com/sites/china-ports … … via @F

Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar is perched on the world’s energy jugular. Sea lanes nearby carry most of China’s oil imports; any disruption could choke the world’s second-largest economy.

Owned, financed and built by China, Gwadar occupies a strategic location. Yet Islamabad and Beijing for years denied any military plans for the harbour, insisting it was a purely commercial project to boost trade. Now the mask is slipping.

“As Gwadar becomes more active as a port, Chinese traffic both commercial and naval will grow to this region,” says a senior foreign ministry official in Islamabad. “There are no plans for a permanent Chinese naval base. But the relationship is stretching out to the sea.”

Gwadar is part of a much bigger ambition, driven by President Xi Jinping, for China to become a maritime superpower. An FT investigation reveals how far Beijing has already come in achieving that objective over the past six years.

Investments into a vast network of harbours across the globe have made Chinese port operators the world leaders. Its shipping companies carry more cargo than those of any other nation — five of the top 10 container ports in the world are in mainland China with another in Hong Kong. Its coastguard has the globe’s largest maritime law enforcement fleet, its navy is the world’s fastest growing among major powers and its fishing armada numbers some 200,000 seagoing vessels.

The emergence of China as a maritime superpower is set to challenge a US command of the seas that has underwritten a crucial element of Pax Americana, the relative period of peace enjoyed in the west since the second world war. As US President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take power, strategic tensions between China and the US are already evident in the South China Sea, where Beijing has pledged to enforce its claim to disputed islands and atolls. Rex Tillerson, the Trump nominee for US secretary of state, said on Wednesday that Washington should block Beijing’s access to the islands. Relations were also dented over Mr Trump’s warm overtures toward Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province.

China understands maritime influence in the same way as Alfred Thayer Mahan, the 19th century American strategist. “Control of the sea,” Mr Mahan wrote, “by maritime commerce and naval supremacy, means predominant influence in the world; because, however great the wealth of the land, nothing facilitates the necessary exchanges as does the sea.”

Drummed into military service

The Gwadar template, where Beijing used its commercial know-how and financial muscle to secure ownership over a strategic trading base, only to enlist it later into military service, has been replicated in other key locations.

In Sri Lanka, Greece and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, Chinese investment in civilian ports has been followed by deployments or visits of People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels and in some cases announcements of longer term military contingencies.

“There is an inherent duality in the facilities that China is establishing in foreign ports, which are ostensibly commercial but quickly upgradeable to carry out essential military missions,” says Abhijit Singh, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. “They are great for the soft projection of hard power.”

Data compiled or commissioned by the Financial Times from third-party sources show the extent of China’s dominance in most maritime domains.