Tuesday, September 11, 2018

China and US Battle For Influence in Pakistan

Top US and Chinese diplomats have visited Pakistan to meet with the country's new prime minister Mr. Imran Khan within days of his assuming office. The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the first to call on Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad. Pompeo's visit was soon followed by a three-day visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. What is at stake in the battle between China and the United States in Pakistan is the prize of global superpower status, according to the US-based Wall Street Journal.

There is a lot of speculation in the western media about the objectives of Pakistan policies being pursued by the two great powers and their impact on the US-China competition for world dominance. Such speculations have centered on the debt related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the US leverage in potential IMF bailout of Pakistan.

American business publication Wall Street Journal has produced a short video explaining how its staff sees what it describes as "US-China conflict brewing in Pakistan". What is at stake in the battle between China and the United States in Pakistan is the prize of global superpower status. Here are the key points it makes:

1. The US-China conflict brewing in Pakistan is about global dominance sought by the two great powers.

2. If China succeeds, it could become the new center of global trade. If the US wins, it could frustrate China's push to become a global power. The impact of it will be felt around the world for decades.

3. China has already surpassed the United States as the world's biggest exporter of goods and services.

4. The biggest project in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in which China is investing heavily and providing massive loans.

5. China could use the infrastructure built in Pakistan under CPEC to gain access to the Indian Ocean and supplant the United States in Pakistan.

6. CPEC-related spending is sinking Pakistan deeper in debt to China. It could force Pakistan to seek $8 billion to $12 billion bailout by IMF where US is the biggest shareholder with veto power.

7. US does not want the IMF bailout money to be used to repay Chinese debt. Not bailing out Pakistan is not an option because it could cost US an important ally in the region.

8. US could, however, use IMF bailout to limit what Pakistan can borrow from China. Such a condition will achieve the US objective of significantly slowing down CPEC and BRI.

9. Pakistan's dilemma is that it needs both the infrastructure improvements financed by China and the IMF bailout to ease pressure on its dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

10. Whoever wins in Pakistan will become the number one global superpower.

Can US "Spend Them (Chinese) Into Oblivion"?

Here's the Wall Street Journal video:


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Can Pakistan Avoid Recurring Balance of Payment Crisis?

Pakistan Economy Hobbled By Underinvestment

Pakistan's IT Exports Surging

Can Indian Economy Survive Without Western Capital Inflows?

Pakistan-China-Russia Vs India-Japan-US

Chinese Yuan to Replace US $ as Reserve Currency?

Remittances From Overseas Pakistanis

Can Imran Khan Lead Pakistan to the Next Level?

China to Expand Manufacturing in Special Economic Zones


Majumdar said...

As our beloved Qaid Jinnah sahib had said many decades ago: "America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America … Pakistan is the pivot of the world, as we are placed- the frontier on which the future position of the world revolves.’”

The Qaids prophecy is finally coming true!!!

Niaz said...

Majumdar sahib,

Many thanks for reminding us of this remark. Obviously, you are a well-read person, please accept my compliments.

The only place I have come across this ‘Quote’ is in the book “Halfway to Freedom” by Margaret Bourke-White who was a journalist for the ‘Life’ magazine.

In 1948 Marshall Plan was in full swing wherein, following the end of WW2, the USA gave away $12-billion in aid for the rebuilding of war-torn Europe. This is more than $100-billion in today’s money!

Understand that in reply to the Bourke-White’s question about his expectations for aid from the USA; the Quaid allegedly replied: “America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America. Pakistan is the pivot of the world, as we are placed — the frontier on which the future position of the world revolves.” He also said that: “Russia is not so very far away.”

Calling it the Quaid’s Prophesy is stretching it a bit too far. The reply should be seen in the context of the question. IMHO the Quaid had implied that Pakistan will not beg the USA or any other country for money.

Mohajir said...

Niaz and Majumdar: Husain Haqqani has quoted many such words by the Quiad in his book Reimagining Pakistan, most of it, is really embarrassing.

In February 1948, Jinnah recorded a radio talk to introduce Pakistan to the people of Australia. He described Pakistanis as ‘mostly simple folk, poor, not very well educated and with few interests beyond the cultivation of their fields’. But then he addressed what he saw as the key to addressing Pakistan’s poverty. Pakistanis, he insisted, ‘come of hardy, vigorous stock, and I think without boasting I can claim that they are brave. They made good soldiers, and have won renown in many battles. They have fought side by your side in two world wars.’ This gave them a claim on external support in Jinnah’s view and he said he did ‘not believe that anyone from abroad who gives a helping hand would have reason to regret it’. According to him, the fact that the ‘greater part of the world’s jute is grown in East Bengal’ gave Pakistan ‘the great benefit of earning large sums of foreign exchange’, which would be ‘very valuable to us in setting up and expanding our industries’. Pakistan was ‘short of capital and technical knowledge; but given a little time, and here and there a friendly hand, these deficiencies should be made good’.
This, in a nutshell, was the economic plan of Pakistan’s founding father. West Pakistan’s warriors would be the attraction for Western capital and technical knowledge while East Pakistan’s jute would would earn foreign currency that would help the country’s industrialization. Instead of economic considerations, foreign policy and being home to warriors who proved their mettle fighting alongside the British in two world
wars were deemed enough as building blocks of the country’s economy. By the time Liaquat, as prime minister, arrived in the United States in 1950 on his first official visit, he ‘stressed his nation’s strategic position and the fighting qualities of her anti-Communist Muslim warriors’ to seek American aid.21 That approach has worked for Pakistan to the extent of keeping it going thus far but is proving inadequate for transforming it into an Asian economic tiger.

20‘Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Broadcast talk to the people of Australia’, Recorded on 19 February 1948.

Riaz Haq said...

Anon: "Husain Haqqani has quoted many such words by the Quiad in his book Reimagining Pakistan, most of it, is really embarrassing."

Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah was absolutely right.

Newly independent nations like Pakistan had been left impoverished by the colonial rulers and they needed a lot of help to rebuild.

The only country left intact and economically strong was the United States after World War II.

Europe was ravaged by war and itself needed help to rebuild which America provided via Marshall Plan.

So naturally Pakistan too looked to the United States and received substantial US assistance that helped Pakistan gdp grow rapidly through 1960s.

US invested in Pakistan in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War when Pakistan's development model was taught at Harvard Business School and Koreans came to Pakistan to learn. Then came the 1971 war and Bhutto's nationalization that scared away foreign investors.


Pakistan was on a similar trajectory as the Asian Tigers during 1960s under Gen Ayub Khan's rule. GDP growth in this decade jumped to an average annual rate of 6 percent from 3 percent in the 1950s, according to Pakistani economist Dr. Ishrat Husain. Dr. Husain says: "The manufacturing sector expanded by 9 percent annually and various new industries were set up. Agriculture grew at a respectable rate of 4 percent with the introduction of Green Revolution technology. Governance improved with a major expansion in the government’s capacity for policy analysis, design and implementation, as well as the far-reaching process of institution building.7 The Pakistani polity evolved from what political scientists called a “soft state” to a “developmental” one that had acquired the semblance of political legitimacy. By 1969, Pakistan’s manufactured exports were higher than the exports of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia combined.

Asad M. said...

چین کو دنیا کی سپر پاور بنانے کی چابی پاکستان کے ہاتھ میں کیسے ہے ؟ امریکہ اور چین کے درمیان پاکستان میں مفادات کی کیا جنگ جاری ہے ؟ دیکھئے امریکی جریدے وال سٹریٹ جنرل کی رپورٹ، اور خود سے سوال پوچھئیے کہ کیا پاکستان اس صورتحال کو اپنے مفاد کیلئے ایک مثبت موقعے میں بدل پائے گا یا سری لنکا کی طرح چینی قرضوں کے چنگل میں پھنس کر گوادر سے ہاتھ دھو بیٹھے گا ؟ دو عالمی طاقتوں کی اس جنگ میں پاکستان کے ہاتھ میں اپنا مستقبل بنانے یا بگاڑنے کا موقعہ ہے ، کیا نئی حکومت اس چیلنج سے نمٹ پائے گی ؟ ویڈیو دیکھئے اور سمجھیے

Riaz Haq said...

#China, #Pakistan agree to open economic corridor to #investors from other countries to ease concerns about the strategic intent behind its vast #infrastructure push . #UnitedStates #India #CPEC #BRI https://sc.mp/2CPkfgJ via @SCMPNews

The agreement was reached during a meeting in Islamabad between Ning Jizhe, vice-chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, and Pakistan’s Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdoom Khursro Bakhtiar.

In a statement released after the meeting on Sunday, Pakistan’s planning and development ministry said the country had introduced new socioeconomic targets for the project, and agreed to establish a mechanism for third-party participation.

On Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang confirmed the decision, saying the two sides would open up the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to other countries and that it would benefit the whole region.

The move is the latest sign of Beijing trying to adjust its approach amid a series of setbacks in countries involved in its “Belt and Road Initiative”. The economic corridor is a flagship project under that strategy, which aims to build a huge trade and infrastructure network spanning Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America.

Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that Beijing wanted involvement from “countries friendly to both Pakistan and China because it wished to steer clear of adverse criticism, particularly from the US and India”.

China, Pakistan can resolve investment problems, but ‘belt and road’ concerns should not be ignored, experts say
Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the move was an effort to address the backlash over China’s activities in the region.

“Inviting a third party will help to ease concerns and the view that there is strategic intent behind the cooperation between China and Pakistan – in particular concerns held by India,” Zhao said.

He added that inviting third countries to take part would also help to improve the global standing and recognition of the projects.

Sun Shihai, an expert in South Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Beijing was learning lessons from recent setbacks but that overall its global infrastructure push was on track.

“China needs to reflect on the problems that have emerged as it makes progress with the belt and road,” Sun said. “The uneven distribution of benefits among different provinces and regions in Pakistan may have caused some grievances and scepticism within Pakistan – China can make adjustments and address these issues.”

The US$60 billion Gwadar port deal is one of the projects that has drawn criticism. The US and India see the port project as China seeking to extend its geopolitical influence, while there have been warnings from the International Monetary Fund and others that Chinese infrastructure investments will create a debt trap for Pakistan.

On Sunday, Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the economic corridor.

But the day before, the Financial Times quoted Abdul Razak Dawood – the Pakistani member of cabinet responsible for commerce, textiles, industry and investment – as saying that companies from Pakistan had been put in a “disadvantaged” position. He suggested that Pakistan should “put everything on hold for a year” and even “stretch CPEC out over another five years or so”.

Facing a trade war and bumps along the belt and road, China may have to revisit the cost of its grand plan
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng denied Pakistan was seeking to delay or extend the project, saying “Pakistan-China relations are impregnable and the government’s commitment to the CPEC is unwavering”.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan keen to start #CPEC’s next phase. #China has invited Prime Minister #ImranKhan to attend the China International Import Expo as the guest of honor at the conference to be attended by members of Belt and Road Initiative. #BRI #trade #exports

The Chinese government has invited Prime Minister Khan to attend the China International Import Expo. Pakistan is the guest of honour at the conference to be attended by members of the Belt and Road Initiative.

It added that the joint working groups meetings were planned to be convened in October. There are five working groups: planning, energy, transport, Gwadar and industrial parks.

Planning Secretary Zafar Hasan gave an overview of the ongoing projects and rundown of the schedule of the upcoming events, leading to the 8th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC).

The cabinet committee endorsed the government’s new priority list of CPEC. The committee decided to prioritise development of Gwadar, Special Economic Zones, Pakistan Railways $9 billion Main Line 1 project, inclusion of social sector development and third-country participation in CPEC, according to the official handout

The committee – the highest bilateral decision-making body – has planned to hold its 8th meeting in the first week of December in China, declared the planning ministry.

The PTI government has undertaken an internal review of CPEC aimed at making it more representative of the aspirations of the people.

Also, the Chinese ambassador on Friday met PM’s Adviser on Textile and Industry Razak Dawood. Both the sides agreed to work more closely to build a brighter and prosperous future for the region, according to a statement issued by the minister’s office after the meeting.

Meanwhile, the 8th JCC will review progress on the implementation of decisions taken during the 7th JCC that was held in November last year.

The officials said progress could not be made on most of the issues that had been decided in the last JCC meeting.

At present, 22 projects worth $28.6 billion are under various phases of implementation under CPEC. They include energy projects estimated at $34.8 billion, road projects at $5.8 billion, ML-1 at $9 billion and Gwadar port and city projects.

The 7th JCC meeting had agreed to resolve the issue of the revolving fund, which was to be set up to make energy payments to Chinese investors. However, the issue remains unresolved till date.

In a related development, the Pakistan Private Infrastructure Board extended the deadlines of a few projects that were falling behind schedule.

The deadlines on ML-I project could not be met. Both the sides agreed to finalise the preliminary design of the project by November 2017 that remains outstanding.

Progress on four provincial road projects – Mansehra-Muzaffarabad-Mirpur Motorway, Gilgit-Shandur-Chitral Road, Naukundi-Mashkhel-Panjgur Road and Keti Bandar port development – could not be made either.

The greater Peshawar Mass Transit Circular Rail and the Quetta Mass Transit projects also remained on papers during the past one year.

The resolution of the Gwadar Water supply scheme of five million gallons per day had been declared an urgent priority by the 7th JCC. So far, no tangible progress has been made.

Bottlenecks to the construction of 300 megawatts Gwadar coal-fired power plant could not be removed, and Pakistan now wants to address it during the prime minister’s visit.

China and Pakistan had also agreed to start construction on the New Gwadar International Airport within six months of signing of the implementation agreement. But work on the project has yet to be started.

However, a Chinese delegation is expected to visit Pakistan soon to discuss the airport project, the officials said.

Similarly, four out of nine prioritised Special Economic Zones have also remained stuck for the past one year.

Anonymous said...

China is the only way to go with full support. Betrayal by US in the past provides enough for us to learn. In this current geopolitical situation it seems like China will be number one superpower soon followed by US and then Russia. India may not become superpower soon but at some point it will. Just imagine if Pakistan tilts heavily towards America, then we will not have good relations with China, the country that is on our borders and Americans are against them. If this happens then China might start favouring India to maintain good relations with them, another country on our borders. As we know Iranians are skewed in favour of India, for a long time, may join in with China, India and Iran against Pakistan. Pakistan already has Afghanistan and India against it in very open manner. On this occasion Pakistan cannot afford to join in with America as we can not take our land borders away from the region where we live. Future will be much disturbing for Pakistan if we join America now.

This debt trap diplomacy is partially true not fully true. It is being popularised by west against China as if west has not done the same thing in the past with many countries. Entire WW2 was funded by bankers to get countries in their debt trap. These bankers were westerns and they are still reaping the reward.

Its time that Pakistan should focus more on China, Russia, Iran and Turkey. All five countries are very powerful one way or another. These countries together can bring a change for rest of the globe. Its not a time when few narrow minded politicians in Pakistan should take decision in favour of America against some money, that money will end up in western banks anyway like it happened in the past. Take a little hardship now and future will be rewarding.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan's army chief Gen Bajwa visits #Beijing after 'Silk Road' tension. He is most senior figure to visit staunch ally #China since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August. #CPEC #BRI https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-china-military/pakistans-army-chief-visits-beijing-after-silk-road-tension-idUSKCN1LW0PR

Pakistan has deepened ties with China in recent years as relations with the United States have frayed.

Bajwa may be hoping in Beijing to smooth out any Chinese alarm at comments last week by Pakistan’s commerce minister, Abdul Razak Dawood, who suggested suspending for a year projects in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Pakistan leg of China’s Belt and Road Initiative that includes recreating the old Silk Road trading route.

Bajwa, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), regularly holds meetings with world leaders due to the Pakistan armed forces’ outsize influence in the nuclear-armed nation, where the military controls security and dictates major foreign policy decisions.

“During the visit COAS will interact with various Chinese leaders including his counterpart,” Major General Asif Ghafoor, the military spokesman, tweeted late on Sunday.

Beijing has pledged to invest about $60 billion in Pakistan for infrastructure for the Belt and Road project.

Dawood, in an interview with the Financial Times, also suggested the CPEC contracts had been unfairly negotiated by the previous government and were too favorable to the Chinese. Later he said the comments were taken out of context, but did not dispute their veracity.

The critical comments were published just after China’s top diplomat, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, visited Pakistan and the two sides reaffirmed the mutual benefits of the Beijing-funded projects.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s government said it wanted CPEC to include more projects with a focus on socio-economic development, something which would align more with the populist agenda of Khan’s new administration.

Riaz Haq said...

#China says #military ties 'backbone' to relations with #Pakistan. Belt and Road initiative (#BRI) should be a benchmark for China-Pakistan ties. #CPEC https://reut.rs/2PHj04s

Military ties between China and Pakistan are the “backbone” of relations between the two countries, a senior Chinese general told Pakistan’s visiting army chief, days after a Pakistani minister stirred unease about Chinese Silk Road projects.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa is the most senior Pakistani figure to visit ally China since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August, and his trip comes a week or so after a senior Chinese diplomat visited Islamabad.

Pakistan has deepened ties with China in recent years as relations with the United States have frayed.

Bajwa may be hoping to smooth out any Chinese alarm at comments last week by Pakistan’s commerce minister, Abdul Razak Dawood, who suggested suspending for a year projects in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Pakistan leg of China’s Belt and Road Initiative that includes recreating the old Silk Road trading route.

On Tuesday, Zhang Youxia, a deputy chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission which President Xi Jinping heads, reiterated to Bajwa that the two countries are “all weather” strategic cooperative partners.

“China-Pakistan military ties are an important backbone of relations between the two countries,” said Zhang according to a statement by China’s Defence Ministry late on Tuesday.

“The two militaries should further pay close attention to practical cooperation in all areas, keep raising the ability to deal with various security risks and challenges, and join hands to protect the common interests of both countries.”

However, Zhang cited Xi as saying that the Belt and Road initiative should be a benchmark for China-Pakistan ties.

He said China appreciated the new Pakistan government’s platform of fully promoting the relationship and that China was willing to work with the new government to push construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Beijing has pledged to invest about $60 billion in Pakistan for infrastructure for the Belt and Road project.

Riaz Haq said...

Reform the IMF to reflect new economic landscape
From Kavaljit Singh, Director, Madhyam New Delhi, India
an hour ago
Martin Sandbu rightly warns about the diminishing role of the IMF as a crisis manager ( Free Lunch, September 19). The challenges faced by the fund are much bigger than its lack of financial resources to put out fires.

The current financial market turmoil in Argentina shows the IMF’s standby loan of $50bn — the largest ever credit line in IMF history — has failed to provide an effective anchor for addressing financial vulnerabilities and bolstering market confidence. The immediate disbursement of $15bn (30 per cent of the total IMF loan) to Argentina did not help in averting currency collapse or arresting capital flight.

These developments in Argentina may deter other emerging market economies to seek financial support from the IMF as its ability to provide the missing anchor for financial stability has been seriously undermined.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, new bilateral and regional mechanisms for crisis management have emerged, but they have remained largely untested. Hence, there is a need to implement quota and voice reforms at the IMF to better reflect the new economic landscape. In addition, the IMF should move away from the orthodoxy in terms of economic thinking and adopt a more nuanced approach towards capital controls that have proved to be effective tools in curbing capital outflows.

Kavaljit Singh
Director, Madhyam New Delhi, India

Riaz Haq said...

Free Lunch: The good, the bad and the ugly in structural reform
IMF finds no productivity gain from labour market deregulation


Not all reforms are created equal

"Not helpful" was then-commissioner Olli Rehn's reaction a few years ago when the International Monetary Fund realised - and duly publicised - that it had underestimated the harm fiscal austerity inflicted on growth. The rest of us may beg to differ: it's a good thing when a large economic research and policy institution improves our knowledge and even better if policies improve as a result. The implication of the new take on fiscal multipliers was that the eurozone and the IMF had made the recession worse by overdoing the fiscal belt-tightening.

The IMF is being helpfully unhelpful again. There is a lot of interesting stuff in the fund's World Economic Outlook, in particular its Chapter 3, which analyses the worldwide fall in productivity growth. But the most interesting bits were only hinted at in chief economist Olivier Blanchard's presentation on Tuesday. A blog post by Francesco Saraceno proves that it pays to read until the end of the WEO Chapter 3. Tucked away in the last pages (Box 3.5, p104), is a short study on how productivity is affected by structural reforms.

To point out the obvious, this is particularly relevant to the eurozone, where structural reforms are imposed on the weakest members, bought from stronger countries in return for extended deadlines on deficit reduction, and insisted on by the ECB as the counterpart for its doing the monetary heavy lifting. So you might think Europeans would be particularly keen to find out if reforms achieved their promise.

The IMF estimates the effect of labour market reforms and product market reforms separately. Product market liberalisation - reforms that increase competition in the sale of goods and services - have a positive effect on productivity, especially in the service sectors, but the short-term effect is negative. Meanwhile, labour market deregulation does not help productivity at all, and even has negative effects in the short run. The figure below summarises the findings:


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I'll write that again. Product market liberalisation is good for productivity in the long run but costly in the short run. Labour market deregulation shows only bad effects on productivity. Blanchard's euphemism is that "structural reforms are no miracle cure - the effects are very often uncertain". Indeed. You might think that in a rational world, better knowledge about what works and what doesn't would inform policy decisions and help us move on from the generic call for "reform". You might even hope that it would inform the current stand-off in Greece, whose government says it is keen to weaken product market monopolies but undo some of the labour market reforms (on collective bargaining and minimum wages) enforced by creditors.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan Trudges Along a Familiar Economic Path


Elevated energy prices and the lack of internationally competitive exports will continue to drive Pakistan's high import bill and trade deficit.
Spending cuts targeting development will narrow the budget deficit but at the cost of slowing growth and increasing unemployment.
New Prime Minister Imran Khan's great challenge will be to balance his impassioned populism with a pragmatism required to govern Pakistan.
As Prime Minister Imran Khan tries to set a new direction for Pakistani politics, his administration is urgently seeking to resolve the country's most serious macroeconomic challenge: boosting its dwindling foreign exchange reserves. As of Sept. 7, the State Bank of Pakistan's net reserves remained beneath $10 billion. That's less than the three-month import cover recommended by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fueling speculation that Khan will turn to the U.S.-based organization for a bailout. Indeed, Finance Minister Asad Umar has unveiled a series of measures targeting the widening budget deficit ahead of an IMF delegation visit to Islamabad on Sept. 27. These measures include cutting more than $2 billion in planned development spending, doubling the tax rate on the highest income earners to 30 percent and hiking tariffs on 5,000 nonessential imports.


All told, Pakistan needs an estimated $31 billion in the current fiscal year, hence its dialogue with the IMF. Pakistan has gone to the Washington, D.C.-based guarantor of global monetary stability 21 times since 1958, completing its latest loan program, $6.6 billion, in 2016 under then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Khan reportedly is seeking to hash out the details of a loan ahead of next month's IMF-World Bank meetings in Bali, Indonesia. If his administration implements its various cost-cutting proposals — including trimming development expenditures, reducing tax and tariff exemptions, restricting nonessential imports, privatizing money-losing public sector corporations, widening the tax base, and raising tax collection targets — the GDP growth rate probably will fall by as much as 1 percent, since curbing development spending will hit an engine of economic expansion. (Indeed, a key driver of the fiscal budget deficit — which reached 6.6 percent of GDP in fiscal 2017-18 — was spending by provincial governments on development projects as lawmakers' terms ended ahead of July's elections.) Meanwhile, withdrawing tax and duty exemptions means that prices on hundreds of items will go up. This will give grist to the political opposition as it moves to criticize Khan's management of the economy.

Ultimately, the road to resolving Pakistan's fiscal and trade deficits will be a long one. Khan will be forced to make unpopular decisions to stabilize the country's finances in the short term so he can be better positioned to address its structural problems. He will seek to advance the country's industrialization in support of a more competitive export base, without which growth of productivity, income, employment and the overall economy will lag. Khan's great challenge will be to strike a careful balance between the impassioned populism that ushered him into office and the pragmatic administration of government necessary to bring his vision of "a new Pakistan" closer to reality.

Riaz Haq said...

#China's top diplomat says plots to disrupt ties with #Pakistan will fail. #CPEC #BRI #US #India http://po.st/n8y86Y via @ChannelNewsAsia

Any plots to sow discord in China's ties with Pakistan will not prevail, the Chinese government's top diplomat said on Tuesday, as Beijing fends off criticism of its economic projects in Pakistan and a clampdown in China's western Xinjiang region.

China has pledged US$57 billion (£43 billion) to build power stations, major highways, new railways and high capacity ports along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a key part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road plan to further tie China to Eurasia.

The sustainability of Chinese projects has come under fresh scrutiny in recent months, as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July warned that any potential International Monetary Fund bailout for Pakistan's troubled economy should not be used to pay off Chinese lenders. Both Beijing and Islamabad say the loans are sustainable.

China welcomes the good start made in its "all-weather" partnership with Pakistan following the election of the new government under Prime Minister Imran Khan, State Councillor Wang Yi told Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

But "any conspiracies attempting to incite disharmony or interfere in China-Pakistan relations will not prevail," Wang added, without elaborating, according to a statement released by China's foreign ministry on Wednesday.

China and Pakistan should continue to make "all-out" efforts to promote the economic corridor, expand trade and reduce poverty to bring more benefits to the ordinary people of Pakistan, Wang said.

The relationship between China and Pakistan will not change, regardless of circumstantial changes, Qureshi told Wang, according to China's statement.

The corridor is "extremely important" to Pakistan and has brought "deep impact" for jobs, development and livelihood, and Islamabad will take effective measures to ensure the security of the entire route, he added.

Beijing has faced growing international criticism from rights groups, some western nations and United Nations human rights experts over its sweeping security crackdown in the far western region of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan.

Islamabad, like most governments of majority Muslim countries, has so far remained silent on the issue, but a group of Pakistani businessmen whose Chinese wives and children have been trapped in Xinjiang are lobbying the new government to help pressure Beijing into allowing their release.

Beijing says it faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists in Xinjiang and has rejected accusations of mistreatment.

Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/china-says-plots-to-disrupt-ties-with-pakistan-will-fail-10758750

Riaz Haq said...

#Japan is countering #China’s Belt and Road Initiative (#BRI) with a whirlwind of Japanese visits and #investment announcements from Southeast Asia to #Pakistan to the Baltics in recent months. #CPEC https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/2132811/japan-takes-lead-countering-chinas-belt-and-road-initiative via @scmpnews

Sri Lanka, after Pakistan, is one of the clearest examples of how China’s ambitious infrastructure development plans – known as the Belt and Road Initiative – are spooking neighbours who worry about Beijing’s rapidly increasing influence and military reach.

Those fears were made manifest late last year, when Sri Lanka handed over the port of Hambantota to China to cover its debts to Beijing.

The kerfuffle over Hambantota helps explain why Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono made a point of ending his visit with a tour of Sri Lanka’s other big port, Colombo, announcing plans to help build a natural gas import terminal.

It was just one of a whirlwind of Japanese visits and investment announcements from Southeast Asia to Pakistan to the Baltics in recent months.
Japan, faced with the abrupt disengagement of an inward-looking United States under President Donald Trump, now finds itself playing the leading role in pushing back against China’s grand plans to extend its influence throughout Asia and into Europe.
To do so, Tokyo is increasingly joining up with other countries and especially India, launching a US$200 billion infrastructure plan, and even boosting its military efforts in the broader Indian Ocean area in what is seen as a deliberate bid to counter Beijing’s growing heft.
The effort even extends as far afield as Eastern and Central Europe, where Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic visit just last month.

Japan – if not India – even suggests periodically it could end up joining the Belt and Road at some point.
Seen from Islamabad, the biggest beneficiary of the Belt and Road thanks to the US$60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), not even Japan and India’s partnership represents a serious threat.
“India and Japan can collaborate, but the Belt and Road is too big to be countered by them, and that is why they are keeping open the option to join sooner or later,” said Ahmad Rashid Malik, the director of the China-Pakistan Study Centre at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.

Riaz Haq said...

Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Deng Xiaoping's comments in Beijing to Albanian Communist Party's visiting delegation in 1962 (as quoted in China’s India War, 1962 as quoted in"Bulletin: Inside China's Cold War" 2007:

"During the last two years it is clear that the American imperialists are helping two forces in Asia: Japan and India. These two forces have yet to form completely. The attempts by the American imperialists to increase the power of India are due to the fact that India is very populous, while Japan is both populous and technologically advanced. Of course, lesser countries of South Asia and Indochina are also included in this plan. Their specific measures are intended to help India become a great power, but its body is very weak. In other words, they are trying to shift India from a policy of neutrality to the side of the American imperialists. Should something like this come to fruition, it would be a blow not only to China, but to the Soviet Union as well. When they help India, they offend Pakistan. The public opinion in Pakistan is now on the side of a change in the government policy, and now Pakistan has a good position towards us. This has yet to be achieved completely. It would take a long time to achieve it."


Riaz Haq said...

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration on Thursday sought to bring
Pakistan back into its sphere of influence by offering new business
opportunities with US for Islamabad alongside a lengthy critique of the
country’s engagement with Beijing through the China-Pakistan Economic


The US push to regain ground it has lost to China came on the heels of
President Trump’s phone call to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan,
ostensibly to thank him for Islamabad’s efforts in facilitating the release of
two Western hostages in Afghanistan. A White House statement said the
two leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the USPakistan trade relationship as well as investment and people-to-people “potentially at an unsustainable cost to Pakistan.”
“Inflated pricing of power & development projects isn’t good for the Pakistani people. CPEC almost always takes the form of
burdensome loans or financing with Chinese state-owned enterprises and the Chinese government profiting. This is hardly the
'peace and win-win cooperation' OBOR is supposed to facilitate,” US Assistant Secretary of State for South Central Asia Alice
Wells tweeted ahead of a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where she said Pakistan faced longterm economic damage with little return if China keeps pursuing its giant infrastructure push.
“While the world’s economies certainly benefit from initiatives that promote sustainable global investment & trade, OBOR is far
from responsible in its economic practices. OBOR lacks transparent financing practices. Failure to repay can lead to
unsustainable debt burdens, which can result in surrendering of assets and diminishing sovereignty,” Wells warned.
Wells also argued that CPEC also relies primarily on Chinese workers and supplies rather than giving that business to Pakistani
companies and workers. She contrasted CPEC with the US-Pakistan business partnership which she said "contributes to
sustainable growth and expertise that builds capacity for local communities and by bringing superior quality & technology,
drives productivity gains in Pakistan."
“Unlike the Chinese government, the US doesn’t tell businesses where to go; they go where they see the greatest
opportunities. There are countless commercial connections between US & #Pakistan leading to thousands of jobs for
Pakistanis,” Wells said, adding that the US culture of corporate social responsibility also provides models for creating jobs and
Pakistan though remains in thrall of Beijing, even though the Trump administration has twitted it by highlighting China’s poor
treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang province to prick its conscience. China though is reported to be unhappy with the pace of
implementation of CPEC projects, resulting in a recent ministerial reshuffle by Prime Minister Imran Khan to address Beijing’sies between the two countries.
Trump had earlier cut off aid to Pakistan in keeping with his distaste for doling out American freebies, but he has repeatedly
said he is in favor of greater trade with all countries as long as it is on a level playing field. Pakistan too has come around to
saying it prefers to grow through trade rather than aid.
Trump’s phone call came even as a senior US official critiqued Pakistan’s economic engagement with China under the One Belt
One Road (OBOR) rubric, warning that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the main initiative under OBOR, comes

Riaz Haq said...

US Ambassador Wells said there was potential for “ever deeper” relationship with Pakistan.


Wells also spoke about the US relationship with Pakistan, saying as “Pakistan takes steps to move away and to restrict the ability of non-state terrorist proxies, the potential for our relationship to grow ever-deeper is there.”

Riaz Haq said...

#US sending 15 #trade delegations to #Pakistan next year: says Sec Alice Wells after her speech critical of #China and #CPEC - Newspaper - http://DAWN.COM


The paper, now posted at the US State Department’s official site, says that the US Commerce Department has “already stepped up its activity in Pakistan with 15 trade delegations planned for the next year”.

And once the new expanded Deve­lopment Finance Corporation (DFC) is up and running, “Pakistan is going to be a country of great interest”.

According to the paper, the DFC will have more than double the investment cap than the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), increasing from $29 billion to $60bn. OPIC is a US government agency which mobilises private capital for overseas investments.

Document suggests US-Pakistan ties are going to expand

The paper argues that doubling the cap would enable investment in projects that have high standards and are financially sustainable over the long haul.

While urging Pakistan to benefit from these additional US resources, Ms Wells reminded Islamabad last week that “true sustainable development is really a marathon and not a sprint. It requires the development of effective regulatory framework, strong rule of law, fiscal health, and an enabling business climate”.

She recalled that during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the United States in July, President Donald Trump was “extremely enthusiastic about the potential for increasing and expanding our US-Pakistan trade and investment relationship. And both our governments are working very hard to find practical ways to do that. We commend Pakistan for surging 28 slots on the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business ranking and being highlighted as one of the top ten reformers globally,” she added.

The paper also highlights some commercial connections between the United States and Pakistan such as, the US firm Excelerate is prepared to potentially invest more than $300 million to upgrade a floating storage regasification unit in Pakistan’s first LNG terminal.

ExxonMobil has been working to support Pakistan’s ambitious effort to access new LNG supplies.

Over the last five years PepsiCo has invested $800m to expand its infrastructure and diversify products, and Coca-Cola has invested $500m in the last couple of years, providing thousands of jobs for Pakistanis.

Uber Technologies entered the Pakistani market in 2016 and currently operates across nine cities, providing employment opportunities for thousands of Pakistanis.

The paper argues that US corporate social models are outstanding vehicles that create jobs and opportunities for communities associated with these foreign investments.

So, the US-Pakistan Women’s Council, for instance, fosters cooperation between American and private sector, Pakistani private sector, to mentor women and girls. Another American brand, KFC, supports the education of children with hearing disabilities and other underprivileged young people, partnering with schools throughout Pakistan.

Proctor & Gamble’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water Programme has provided 875m litres of clean drinking water to Pakistani communities in need.

Noting that US companies bring superior quality and technology, the paper points out that Pakistani leaders often praise US companies like Cargill and Corteva, that are passing critical technology and driving “enormous productivity gains in Pakistan’s huge agricultural sector”.

The US has also helped establish some of Pakistan’s most prestigious educational institutions and centres including Lums, IBA, JPMC and the Centre for Advanced Studies in Energy at Nust.

“And just to be crystal clear, the US-Pakistan development partnership has primarily taken the form of grants — not loans,” said Ms Wells while adding that such links “offer a sense of the direction that we envision”.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan revives Belt-and-Road projects under Chinese pressure

Islamabad calls in senior military official after economic crisis stalled investmentsShare on Twitter (opens new window)Share on Facebook (opens new window)
SaveStephanie Findlay in New Delhi and Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad 3 HOURS AGO
Pakistan has bowed to pressure from China to revive a string of Beijing-backed infrastructure projects that have run aground, appointing a senior Pakistani military official to streamline decision-making over the multi-billion-dollar investments.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a key part of the Belt and Road Initiative, which Beijing sees as a 21st century Silk Road to connect Asia, Africa and Europe. But only half of the announced $62bn-worth of projects in Pakistan are under way as Islamabad scales back its financial commitments while it implements a $6bn IMF bailout package.
Beijing is frustrated with the slow pace of the initiative, which is supposed to be a shining example of China’s economically transformative investments, and has put pressure on Islamabad to put the military in charge.
Last month retired lieutenant general Asim Saleem Bajwa was appointed chairman of a new CPEC authority, reinforcing the military’s grip on the project and insulating it from prime minister Imran Khan’s fractious government.
“The job of the CPEC authority will bring focus to this vast project,” said a senior government official in Mr Khan’s office. “General Bajwa will also take care of the security aspects.”

But even though the military is assuming greater control, analysts said Pakistan’s economic crisis will continue to constrain work on CPEC.
Islamabad has slashed imports, depreciated the rupee, decreased development spending and raised taxes in an effort to cut its substantial fiscal and current account deficits. Gross domestic product growth has tumbled from 5.8 per cent last year to a forecast 2.4 per cent this year. Exports are flatlining.

Large-scale manufacturing production fell 5.9 per cent year on year in the three months from July to September, with some industries, including cars and pharmaceuticals, suffering double-digit decreases in production.Pakistan is now worried about falling into a debt trapHusain Haqqani, the Hudson Institute© Bloomberg
China has long faced criticism that its BRI projects burden fiscally weak countries with unsustainable debt. Islamabad is expected to pay $40bn in debt repayments and dividends to China over the next two decades.
Sakib Sherani, former adviser to the Pakistani finance minister, told the Financial Times that CPEC-related debt is “not unmanageable” but cautioned that Pakistan’s ability to meet its debt obligations hinges on increasing exports.“There is a disconnect. CPEC-related debt eventually must generate enough exports to be able to deal with the repayments,” he said.
Last month US ambassador Alice Wells warned that “China is going to take a growing toll on the Pakistan economy”. She added: “Even if loan payments are deferred, they’re going to hang over Pakistan’s economic development potential, hamstringing prime minister Khan’s reform agenda.”

Riaz Haq said...

The West is competing with #China and #Russia for influence in #Afghanistan & Pakistan while #India’s case against #Pakistan is being viewed as having become weaker thanks to the many controversial decisions by #Modi . #Kashmir #CAB2019 http://www.ecoti.in/eTwNia via @economictimes

While Moody’s Investors Service lowered India’s credit rating from stable to negative last month, it raised Pakistan’s rating from negative to stable last week. ‘The rating affirmation,’ said Moody’s, ‘reflects Pakistan’s relativelylarge economy and robust long-term growth potential, coupled with ongoing institutional enhancements that raise policy credibility and effectiveness, albeit from a low starting point.’


It shows a poor understanding of global geopolitics for any one to imagine that western powers — not to mention China that now chairs FATF — are prepared to put Pakistan in the same box as Iran and North Korea.

The US, in particular, has vehemently opposed the latter and their nuclear capability while happily doing business with nuclear-armed Pakistan. The world seems to have come around to the view that after the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008, there has been no major cross-border terror attack on any civilian target in India, and that the cross-border attacks on military installations are part of an ongoing undeclared war between the two neighbours.

Given recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir terror attacks, they will increasingly be viewed by world opinion as ‘locally staged’, if incontrovertible evidence to the contrary is not provided. All this will reduce the pressure on Pakistan to improve its behaviour.

Riaz Haq said...

Without #Afghanistan, #Pakistan and #UnitedStates need a new basis for relationship. Under this arrangement, "We would see Pakistan not as a problem to be managed but also as an opportunity as a potential South Asian economic tiger." #economy #trade #FDI https://thehill.com/opinion/international/477903-without-afghanistan-pakistan-and-the-us-need-a-new-basis-for#.XhyYHjMtuvs.twitter

Pakistan’s population is in the same league as other democracies such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Nigeria. The United States has security ties with each of these democracies, but it also has economic ties, people-to-people ties, and ties in technology, education, and innovation. We should have similarly broad and deep relations with Pakistan.

Although there are valid criticisms in the United States of Pakistan, we need to engage the country in a more rounded way. A broader, more comprehensive engagement would likely require Pakistan to also have a more comprehensive vision of its own role in the world — one also less-viewed through the prism of a single country, namely, India. Pakistan places a disproportionate lens on its military and defense, it spent 4 percent of its GDP on the military in 2018. In contrast, Pakistan only spent 2.9 percent of GDP on education in 2017.

Pakistan’s Potential

Pakistan could become another Argentina or Ukraine in terms of agricultural potential. Agriculture accounts for 20 percent of Pakistan’s GDP and employs 43 percent of its workforce. Agriculture also plays a huge role in Pakistan’s exports, accounting for about 80 percent. But Pakistan’s agricultural productivity currently only ranges between 29-52 percent and could be much higher, with broader use of improved seeds and farming techniques.

Pakistan also has very significant tourism potential. It is best known for its ancient historical and religiously significant buildings, such as the Madshahi and Grand Jamia Mosque. It also has immense natural beauty, such as the Hunza Valley and Desoi National Park. However, Pakistan is one of the least competitive countries in South Asia in regard to travel. Pakistan had 1.7 million visitors in 2017, compared to Sri Lanka’s 2.3 million and Jordan’s 4.2 million. Introducing a recent e-visa program was a great start to opening the doors for tourism but much more needs to be done.

Pakistan has significant hydropower potential but has only developed one-tenth of its 60,000 MW potential. If this resource were properly tapped, it could play a huge role in tackling the power deficit in Pakistan and the broader region.

What would a reframed relationship with Pakistan look like?

On the U.S. side a reframed relationship would require a broader and larger set of stakeholders. We would see Pakistan not as a problem to be managed but also as an opportunity as a potential South Asian economic tiger.

Most members of congress who had an interest in Pakistan — especially outside of the military relationship — have left politics, so a new coalition in Congress needs to be rebuilt. The relationship is poisoned by disappointments, accusations, fear and distrust.


Education is also key to reframing the relationship. Student exchange programs are beneficial in improving relations between countries. In 2016, the last year for which we could find numbers, there was an 8.5 percent increase in the number of Pakistani students studying in the United States — which is still just 11,000 Pakistani students. That is half of the 22,000 Pakistani students studying in China.

The United States must revisit its foreign aid program to support Pakistan in reaching its full potential. From recent informal conversations, it’s clear that neither OPIC, now the USDFC, nor EXIM Bank have sent a mission to Pakistan for many years. That needs to change. Our foreign aid has dropped drastically and is at levels far below what’s required, given the challenges. Creating a new relationship could take as a long as a decade but must begin now.

Riaz Haq said...

CPEC and Beyond: China and the US Fight For Influence In Pakistan
Beijing and Washington tussle to have their way with Islamabad’s foreign policy decisions.


On Monday, the U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells, in a statement said that a number of firms blacklisted by the World Bank had received contracts in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

In her renewed criticism, Wells, who is on a four-day visit to Pakistan, noted that the lack of transparency in the existing deals and the financial conditions imposed by China have increased Pakistan’s overall debt.

This not the first time that Wells has criticized the CPEC. In November last year, Wells warned that the Chinese loans are “going to hang over Pakistan’s economic development potential, hamstringing Prime Minister [Imran] Khan’s reform agenda.”

Broadly, CPEC has come under U.S. criticism due to its wider linkage to China’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Project. While Washington’s overt criticism of the project continues, it has also continued to insisted that Pakistan is a sovereign state that can make any trade deals that the country’s leadership finds suited to its interests. After Wells’ recent criticism of the project, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Paul W. Jones explained that Wells’ “remarks were meant to generate a debate.”


it’s unlikely that Washington’s criticism of CPEC will wear out in the coming months or years. Arguably, policymakers in Pakistan are wary of Islamabad’s growing financial reliance on China but at the same time they have been unable to win any significant financial support from Washington. Khan’s government demanded a major review to CPEC projects when it came to power in 2018. However, to Khan’s frustration, Beijing was only willing to review projects that had not started yet. Reportedly, the matters were settled after Pakistan’s top military leadership intervened and assured China of Islamabad’s commitment.

Arguably, CPEC has emerged as the next battleground for the United States and China’s economic rivalry. Both countries’ warnings and counterwarnings are coming at a time when Pakistan is looking for financial assistance from both countries. Pakistan may not like China’s financial terms, but there is no other major investor willing to assist Islamabad at a time when the country is stuck in a major financial crisis.

Moreover, while the United States has assured Pakistan that it is greatly enhancing trade with the country, it’s unlikely that Islamabad will win Washington’s economic support at a level even close to Beijing’s financial commitments. However, it remains to be seen if Washington can allow Beijing to completely wipe out its ability to influence Pakistan’s policymakers.

It’s unlikely that Islamabad is going to be able to balance its relationship between China and the United States in the coming months or perhaps years as both countries compete for influence in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

In an interview with Pakistani journalist Israr Kasana that was published on YouTube on June 3, 2020, (Indian Defense Analyst) Pravin (Sawhney) asserted that "Pakistan has never lost (to India) in any war, be it 1965 or 1971 or any other." "If Pakistan had lost, there would be no line-of-control or ceasefire line on the ground," he added. Here's more from that interview:

"If Pakistan had lost we (India) would have erased the LOC...why do I say that? I have explained it in my book. Pakistan has been strong in the western sector. It's a myth that Pakistan is weak, a myth that Pakistan itself perpetrates...India says we (India) are strong when in fact it is not.....CPEC is extremely important...China will share a lot of military capability with Pakistan....China shares platforms and assures unlimited supply of spare parts which is crucial in war...China and Pakistan do frequent joint military exercises...to assure interoperability."


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan to Host Russia, NATO Members for Joint Naval Drill


Pakistan announced Monday it will host navies from 45 countries, including the United States, China and Russia, for a joint military exercise in the North Arabian Sea later this month.

It will be the first time in a decade that Russian naval ships have attended drills with multiple NATO members.

Officials said the biannual multinational "AMAN" (Peace) exercise in Pakistani waters is aimed at fostering international cooperation to fight piracy, terrorism and other crimes threatening maritime security and stability.

“Exercise AMAN is about bridging gaps and making it possible to operate together in pursuance of common objectives,” Rear Adm. Naveed Ashraf, commander of the Pakistani fleet, said Monday.

An official statement quoted him as saying that participating nations will attend the military drills with their “surface and air assets, special operation forces and maritime teams.”

Britain, Turkey, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia and countries from the African Union are also among participants of the military exercise under the banner, "Together for Peace.”

The last time the Russian navy conducted joint military drills with NATO members was in the "Bold Monarch" exercise in 2011, which took place off the coast of Spain.

NATO’s relations with Moscow have since deteriorated over Russia’s annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014.

“Pakistan considers that maritime security is not just important for itself but for all other countries whose prosperity and progress are strongly bonded with the seas,” Ashraf said.

He stressed that Pakistan’s “extraordinary dependence” on the seas for trade and operationalization of infrastructure projects developed with China’s financial and technical assistance “make the maritime stability” an “important agenda of our national security.”

The multibillion-dollar collaboration, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is regarded as a key component of Beijing’s global Belt and Road Initiative.

The project has in recent years cemented economic relations between the two allied nations, which traditionally maintain close military ties.

The Pakistani navy chief last week confirmed his institution will acquire eight submarines and four frigates from China.

“Naval collaboration between the two countries has been strengthened with the procurement of F-22P frigates, fast attack craft, helicopters, and state-of-the-art survey ships,” Adm. Amjad Khan Niazi told China’s Global Times.

“The PN (Pakistan Navy) has also contracted construction of eight Hangor class submarines, four Type 054A/P frigates, and medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicles from China,” Niazi said.

On Monday, Pakistan’s military received a donated batch of COVID-19 vaccine from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). It marked the first time the PLA has provided the vaccine to a foreign army.

“Pakistan’s armed forces extend their deepest gratitude to PLA and People’s Republic of China for this magnanimous donation during testing times,” the Pakistani military said.

It added, however, that the drug will be contributed to the ongoing national drive inoculating health care workers across Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Pravin Sawhney (@PravinSawhney) Tweet:

Pakistan Navy Aman 21 exercise brings US, China & Russian navies together - what more needs to be said of Pak’s geopolitical importance in times of change!


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan’s geo-economics is working well. Despite their friendly relations with #China (& #Russia), both #Uzbekistan & #Pakistan (biggest 2 nations in Greater Middle East) are eager to deepen ties with the #US. China has huge stakes in Pak & #Afghanistan https://www.indianpunchline.com/pakistans-geo-economics-is-working-well/

The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus.

The US is intensely conscious that its prestige in the region is at its nadir today and it stands isolated, as the reported cheeky Russian offer volunteering to be America’s gatekeeper shows.

Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan are also Muslim countries and they provide a market of around 300 million people. No doubt, the US did its homework. This QUAD has viability unlike its insipid namesake in the “Indo-Pacific.”

In the recent years, the US has been paying extra attention to cultivate friendly ties with Uzbekistan, which is not only the biggest country in Central Asia but a relative success story regionally in political stability and overall developmental trajectory.

Tashkent has been receptive to Washington’s overtures, as strong ties with America help it to balance Russia and will strengthen its strategic autonomy.

The new Quad signals the US’ receptiveness to Pakistan’s persisting demand for a bilateral relationship that goes beyond Afghan issues. There are fault lines in the China-Pakistan relationship, which are no more possible to conceal, and in Washington’s judgment, Pakistani elites, civilian and military, have remained as western-oriented as ever despite their alienation in the recent decade.

To be sure, with the curtain coming down on the Afghan war, the time has come for establishing rail/road links connecting Central Asia with Karachi/Gwadar ports. The expected improvement in the security situation allows mega projects to be implemented. Conceivably, the Taliban would have no reservations over the QUAD. The Pakistani ports are ideally placed to connect the resource-rich Central Asian region and Afghanistan with the world market.

Clearly, by having both the CPEC and the QUAD on its platter, Pakistan is tasing success in its foreign-policy shift toward geoeconomics. Pakistan’s geography makes it a turf for competition between China and the West in infrastructure development. Simply put, the new QUAD will impact regional politics.

Indeed, the US hopes to wean Pakistan away from its heavy dependence on China. The new QUAD will make India look an outlier drifting aimlessly without a sense of direction. India turned its back on China’s BRI but Pakistan secured the $60 billion CPEC and is now looking forward to the US-led QUAD.

India’s relations with China are in deep chill and its traditional friendly ties with Russia have become listless, whereas, Pakistan not only enriched its ties with China but is successfully exploring the multipolarity in the world order.

On July 16, Pakistan and Russia signed a mega deal for a 1100 km gas pipeline project costing between $2.5 – $3 billion connecting Karachi and Lahore which will transport imported LNG (for which it has separately signed a deal with Qatar whereby 200 mmcfd of gas will initially reach Karachi’s LNG terminal in the beginning of next year that would be enhanced to 400 mmcfd in the coming years.) Whereas, India’s gas pipeline project with Iran has been languishing as pipe dream. read more

Pakistan is anxious to have President Putin inaugurate the groundbreaking of the gas pipeline project, which is expected to be held later this year or in early 2022. Delhi should seriously introspect whether its passionate embrace of the US bandwagon through the past decade under successive governments, brought any significant dividends.

Pakistan is once again becoming a frontline state in big-power rivalry. But this time around, Pakistan stands to gain out of its geography and hopes to create equity for its development.

Riaz Haq said...

#US, #Afghanistan, #Pakistan, #Uzbekistan to form quad group to enhance regional connectivity for #rade, #transit links. The new quad group is important amid #China's desire to extend its Belt Road Initiative (BRI) to Afghanistan. #BRI #CPEC #SilkRoad https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-afghanistan-pakistan-uzbekistan-to-form-quad-group-to-enhance-regional-connectivity/article35377295.ece

The US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan have agreed in principle to establish a new quadrilateral diplomatic platform focused on enhancing regional connectivity, the Biden administration has said.

“The parties consider long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan critical to regional connectivity and agree that peace and regional connectivity are mutually reinforcing,” the State Department said on Friday.

Recognising the historic opportunity to open flourishing interregional trade routes, the parties intend to cooperate to expand trade, build transit links, and strengthen business-to-business ties, it said.

“The parties agreed to meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus,” said the State Department.

Afghanistan’s strategic location has for a long time been touted as a competitive advantage for the country. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north, and China to the northeast.

Located at the heart of the historic Silk Road, Afghanistan was long the crossroads of commerce between Asian countries connecting them to Europe, and enhancing religious, cultural, and commercial contacts.

The formation of the new quad group is important amid China's desire to extend its Belt Road Initiative (BRI) to Afghanistan.

The BRI, a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013, aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

By virtue of its location, Afghanistan can provide China with a strategic base to spread its influence across the world.

Since the announcement of the withdrawal of U.S. forces by August 31, violence has been rising and efforts to broker a peace settlement between the Afghan government and insurgent Taliban have slowed.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistani leaders have repeatedly signaled a shift from ‘geopolitics’ to ‘geo-economics’ in recent months


Pakistan’s pivot from ‘geopolitics’ to ‘geo-economics’ came into sharp focus recently as Prime Minister Imran Khan concluded his visit to Uzbekistan. The term has been repeatedly brought up since the beginning of this year – first when the premier visited Sri Lanka in February and then in March, when both the army chief and Pakistan’s foreign minister announced in clear words the country’s developing geo-economic vision for its future.

The Uzbekistan trip, which spanned July 15 and 16, culminated in a slew of agreements across a range of sectors, from trade to culture. Among other things, the two nations agreed to finalise a preferential trade agreement (PTA) within three months to boost bilateral trade volume, which for now is far below potential. But perhaps most the significant one was a deal to enhance rail links between the two nations via Afghanistan.

The benefits of this particular agreement appear obvious. For the landlocked Central Asian nation, greater connectivity will allow it access to Pakistan’s three ports in Gwadar and Karachi.

For Pakistan, however, the end goal goes beyond more trade opportunities with resource-rich Central Asia. Linking Gwadar and Karachi to the 11-nation Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) corridor would open the country and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor to both Russia and Europe – the benefits of which, most observers agree, would be unimaginable.

But Pakistan’s pivot seems to be taking shape in a crowded geopolitical space that poses a new set of challenges.

A battle of ‘new world orders’

In his first news conference in March, US President Joe Biden kept observers on their toes by dubbing his country’s great power competition with China a ‘global ideological fight between democracy and autocracy’. His language signified the emergence of a new divided world, the likes of which had not been seen since the end of the Cold War.

The 1990s saw the emergence of a unipolar world, perhaps for the first time in human history, as the Soviet Union disintegrated and the US, starting with Iraq and Kuwait, discovered it could decide global matters alone. Empowered by its technological and military supremacy, the US cemented its lone influence over major trade routes, like the straits of Malacca and Hormuz, and thus found itself in control of other nations economic and energy bloodlines. Through organisations it led, like the World Bank and IMF, the US also strengthened its global financial influence around the same time.

Against this backdrop, the China-led OBOR appears to contest the old US-led ‘new world order’ by providing alternative strategic routes to the ones the latter controls. Simultaneously, China’s rapid military modernisation, especially in terms of naval power projection, threatens America’s singular dominance of the seas.

Beijing’s large-scale investment in various regions, likewise, has appeared as a challenge to US financial might and the latter has already fired the first salvo in an emerging economic war by slapping sanctions on certain Chinese firms.


Speaking on internal challenges, former principal economic advisor and prominent economist Sakib Sherani said the implementation of geo-economics strategies would become near impossible for Pakistan if reforms in various areas are not implemented. “Take for example taxation, the system is so flawed that the entire burden is on formal and registered businesses instead of informal or unregistered businesses. Which is why informal sector in the country is growing,” he stressed. “It is not only affecting the government’s revenue but discouraging direct foreign investment as well,” he added.

Riaz Haq said...

Why Did The #UAE Give #Pakistan An #Oil/#Gas Exploration License For The First Time Ever? It is an indication that #Washington has not yet lost all hope that #Islamabad can remain at least partly under the #US influence | OilPrice.com https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Why-The-UAE-Gave-Pakistan-An-Oil-Concession-For-The-First-Time-Ever.html?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=tw_repost #oilprice

The awarding of exploration, development, and ancillary contracts for its onshore and offshore oil and gas fields is a principal mechanism by which ADNOC is used to promote engagement with countries regarded as ‘in play’ by Washington. A longstanding prime example of this is Pakistan and the awarding last week of the first ever oil concession to it by the UAE can be regarded as a signal that despite its history of double dealings with the U.S. over Islamic terrorism, Washington has not yet lost all hope that Islamabad can remain at least partly under U.S. influence. As part of ADNOC’s broad-based drive to increase its crude oil production from the current 4 million barrels per day (bpd) to at least 5 million bpd by 2030 at the latest, it has awarded a slew of contracts recently, almost all of them to U.S.-aligned companies. Indeed, the last set of contract awards - US$764 million in drilling contracts for activities in the Upper Zakum and Satah Al Razboot fields - went only U.S. companies (Schlumberger, and Halliburton), in addition to the UAE’s own ADNOC Drilling. The last major concession award, in the meantime, went in February to the U.S.’s long-term principal ally in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, with Cosmo Energy Holdings Co. being granted a 100 per cent stake in the exploration phase of Offshore Block 4 in exchange for a US$145 million investment in the site.

Last week’s award is also for a 100 per cent stake in the exploration phase – for Offshore Block 5 – and has been given to a consortium of Pakistan companies led by Pakistan Petroleum Ltd. (PPL) that accounts for around 20 per cent of the country’s total natural gas supplies and produces crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas and other natural gas liquids as well.

The remainder of the consortium that will invest up to US$304.7 million towards the exploration and appraisal drilling of the offshore 6,223 square kilometre field located 100 kilometres northeast of Abu Dhabi city is comprised of the Mari Petroleum Co. Ltd., Oil and Gas Development Co. Ltd., and Government Holdings (Private) Ltd. Once the initial new developments of Offshore Block 5 have been done, the PPL-led consortium will also have the right to activate a 35-year production concession for the site, over which ADNOC will have the option to hold a 60 per cent stake. The strategic nature of ADNOC and its awards since the UAE signed a U.S.-sponsored ‘relationship normalisation’ deal with Israel in August last year was highlighted again by a statement from the firm that accompanied the groundbreaking award to the Pakistanis that the contract: “Underscores ADNOC’s expanded approach to strategic partnerships.”

Riaz Haq said...

ASEAN needs more Belt and Road money, say ministers - Nikkei Asia


Meeting online at a Belt and Road Summit, ASEAN ministers said the region has benefited from the infrastructure and digital connectivity already brought about by BRI, but new initiatives are needed to create opportunities amid pandemic-induced uncertainties.

"I am of the view that there are many tangible aspects that could be derived from the multinational partnership and cooperation under the BRI," said Sansern Samalap, Thailand's vice minister for commerce.

Sansern gave the example of the BRI flagship $5.75 billion China-Thailand high-speed railway project that will promote investments in the Greater Mekong Subregion, which includes Cambodia and Laos as part of the China-Indochina economic corridor.

Finally signed last October after numerous delays over terms and conditions, the initial 253 km line will connect Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima, the gateway to northeastern Thailand. Phase one of construction has already begun, and is slated for completion in late 2026. The final 873 km line will carry on up to Vientiane, the Laotian capital, and from there continue north to Kunming in China's Yunnan Province.

"Investors can grab this business opportunity and use Thailand as the gateway into the subregion and ASEAN," said Sansern.

Top Chinese officials participated in the summit, including Gao Yunlong, vice chairman of the national committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.

The BRI was unveiled by President Xi Jinping in 2013. In 2020, China signed BRI cooperation agreements with nearly 140 countries to promote connectivity between Asia, Europe and Africa, mainly through infrastructure projects.

Tan See Leng, Singapore's minister for manpower, told the summit that accelerating ASEAN development plans has become more important if countries are to overcome the current economic slowdown,

"In such times, the BRI plays an even more important role in strengthening regional and multilateral cooperation by promoting connectivity in infrastructure, in finance and in trade," said Tan.

The Asian Development Bank recently downgraded its growth forecast for Asia to 7.2% from the 7.3% projected in April, citing the recent rapid spread of COVID-19 and low vaccination levels in Asian countries.

Tan said Singapore will partner China on some investments in BRI projects. Companies from the two countries are collaborating in various sectors, including logistics, e-commerce, infrastructure, finance and legal services.

Jerry Sambuaga, Indonesia's vice minister for trade, said BRI projects have boosted connectivity and created business opportunities.

"We must maintain this mutually beneficial partnership amidst uncertain global challenges," Sambuaga said. He called for more collaboration on Indonesian tourism projects that benefit local communities, and for the BRI to complement the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation agreement.

RCEP, a 15-country multilateral free trade deal signed in 2020 by ASEAN along with Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, is due to take effect on Jan. 1, 2022. Some analysts expect a delay, however, as not all governments have ratified the agreement in their national legislatures.

Singapore's Tan said today that the city state expected the "timely" implementation of RCEP on schedule.

"We look forward to the implementation of the RCEP in order to realize the benefit to businesses [and] to people while contributing to Asia's economy recovery and strengthening of confidence in the longer-term economic prospects of Asia," he said.