Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka; Belt Road Forum 2019 in Beijing

Who carried out the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka? Why? Is it a domestic group with outside help? What is India's role in it? Why did the attackers use India as their training base? Did ISIS inspire the attackers? With Muslims facing revenge attacks, what will happen to inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in the island nation at the Southern tip of India? Will there be a renewed civil war? How will it affect South India and the South Asia region?

Tamil Population in India and Sri Lanka

What was the agenda of the Belt and Road Forum 2019 attended by 37 world leaders including Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing? What did President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Imran Khan and other world leaders say at this summit? How will this affect the next phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of BRI (Belt Road Initiative)? How will concerns ranging from debt sustainability and inclusive growth to environmental impact be addressed?

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at BRF 2019 in Beijing

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Indian Agent Kulbhushan Jadhav Operated From Iran

What Can Pakistan Learn From Sri Lanka?

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Myths and Facts

Chabahar vs Gwadar Ports

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network


Riaz Haq said...

Worries over Pakistan debt to China are overstated: Imran Khan’s adviser

Of the $100 bn of debt, only $11 bn is owed to China: Husain
The so-called debt overhang for Pakistan from its participation in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of the ambitious Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, is overstated, according to a top official of Pakistan.

“The propaganda is not based on facts but on perception,” said Ishrat Husain, adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan on institutional austerity and a federal Minister. He was addressing a seminar at the 52nd ADB Annual Meeting of Asian Development Bank on the topic: “Is debt sustainability a cause for concern?”

Money brought in as FDI
Reeling out numbers, Mr. Husain said that of the $45 billion total package from China under CPEC in 2015, as much as $35 billion was for financing power projects in the power-deficit country. “The Chinese government got no extra concessions, the money was brought in as FDI and commercial loans were taken by the Chinese companies. There is no loan obligation on Pakistan,” said Mr. Husain. About $6 billion was in the form a government-to-government loan at 2% interest rate, he said.

Of the total national debt of $100 billion, only $11 billion is owed to China, according to him. Pakistan’s annual investment programme, including both public and private, added up to $50 billion and the CPEC was only a small part of it, he pointed out.

“The Chinese have been very understanding and cooperative. CPEC has put us back on track and we’re determined to put our house in order,” Mr. Husain said.

BRI a natural idea
Speaking in the same panel, ADB president and chairperson Takehiko Nakao said that the BRI, of which CPEC is a part, is a very natural idea to expand the connection between East Asia, Central Asia, Europe and Africa.

“There are merits over investment but at the same time we have to be careful... we must find good projects with good returns even if the lending is to the government. Otherwise it will cause concern over repayment,” he said.

M. Ashraf said...

I wouldn't rule out participation of Indian intelligence RAW operatives in allowing Sri Lanka Attacks to happen. Alleged mastermind Zahran Hashim planned and trained for the attack while on Indian soil. The attack has RAW fingerprints.

Riaz Haq said...

#Digital #BRI – #China’s growing #5G clout: #China has begun building “information expressway” of fibre optic cable links to #Myanmar, #Nepal & #Kyrgyzstan to link to #Africa by undersea cable from #Pakistan which is being linked to China through #CPEC.

The second summit of the Belt and Road Initiative concluded this week amid great fanfare in Beijing. Headlines proclaimed BRI’s inexorable expansion to new countries and China’s growing footprint. But it was the ‘Digital Silk Road’ project – one of 12 subthemes discussed at the summit – that could prove to be a game changer.

While the US keeps issuing warnings about the espionage risks of using Chinese 5G network equipment and the security threat posed by Huawei devices, China’s telecom infrastructure projects keep growing. Despite the lamentations of a Cassandra-like Washington, Huawei and ZTE are acquiring access to larger markets making an end run around their Western rivals. Less visible than ports and railways of BRI, China’s expanding control over the world’s digital communications networks would give Beijing unparalleled influence. Its growing clout in surveillance tech, combined with its lead in developing superfast 5G, promises to make China a global tech challenger to the US. This significant development comes despite repeated American warnings that it might reconsider sharing sensitive intelligence with allies that allow Huawei to build 5G networks in their countries. Even the UK, which as a member of the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing group (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) once supported a tough stand against Huawei, has now decided to allow the firm to build parts of its 5G network. Major BRI partners don’t even have an option: they are required to use only Chinese 5G suppliers, which hold 36% of all 5G patents worldwide.

Ever since the Digital Silk Road was launched in 2017, China has begun building up an “information expressway” of fibre optic cable links to Myanmar, Nepal and Kyrgyzstan. It plans to connect Africa to China by laying cables across the ocean from Pakistan which is being linked to China through its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. China has offered help to countries as far away as Cuba, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to advance cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence (AI). China’s advance as a digital connector and leading provider of 5G technology – which would form the backbone of autonomous vehicles, facial recognition technology, and AI – to an ever-growing number of developing countries raises the possibility that Chinese-style surveillance states will proliferate. Its ongoing efforts to harness AI to master big data and its ability to harvest vast amounts of such data from connected countries would give Beijing greater political influence than by merely constructing trade and transportation hubs.

Riaz Haq said...

‘IS in #SriLanka not linked to #Pakistan but #India’, says global #terrorism expert. Extremist preachers from #TamilNadu influenced the formation of radical groups in Sri Lanka. #SriLankaAttacks via @htTweets

Sri Lanka is still struggling to get back on its feet after eight suicide bomb attacks killed more than 250 people and shattered the peace that had reigned for a decade since the end of a brutal 30-year civil war in which more than 120,000 people were killed.

To Indians weary of Islamist terror from Pakistan-based groups, the Sri Lanka carnage bears familiar hallmarks. Professor of Security Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang University and global terror expert of Sri Lankan origin, Dr Rohan Gunaratna, tells Padma Rao Sundarji in Colombo about the spread of the Islamic State (IS) in the region and the dangers it poses.

Q: The suicide attacks on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka in which more than 250 people were killed, have revealed an established network of Islamist extremism in western, central and eastern Sri Lanka. Some years ago, PM Wickremesinghe himself confirmed to this writer in an interview, that 32 affluent Sri Lankans had joined the Islamic State. Though invented in Sri Lanka by the Tamil terror group LTTE which was defeated in 2009, suicide attacks remain the hallmark of Pakistan-based terror groups. Are there any links between the IS-related groups in Sri Lanka and Pakistan?

A: The first Sri Lankan foreign terrorist fighter who went to Syria and Iraq was one Mohammed Muhsin Nilam. He was killed in 2015. He was an old boy of Sri Lanka’s elite Trinity College. He went to a madarssa for six months, but preferred a university education. He joined the International Islamic University in Pakistan in September/October 2007 and earned an LLB.

Also read: ‘Sri Lanka will rise again’: PM Modi pays tribute to Easter bombing victims

Q: Sri Lankan officials emphasize the good relations between Colombo and Islamabad. But have there been exchanges at other levels too? Did ‘motivational’ speakers from Pakistan travel in and out of Sri Lanka?

A: Extremist preachers from Tamil Nadu influenced the formation of radical groups in Sri Lanka. The influence of the Tamil Nadu Tawheed Jamaath in India has been very damaging to Sri Lanka. As IS is spreading to Asia, it is vital that our governments and the religious authorities meet once a month and start to counter the threat. In the next five years, our countries will be ruined by the spread of IS ideology. Although there are non violent Wahabis and Salafis, the research in the region show that foreign ideologies are detrimental to traditional Islam - Sufism - that Muslims have inherited for centuries. The Wahabi and Salafi models breeds intolerance. With incitement, exclusivism leads to extremism and terrorism.

Q: The terrorists involved in the Easter carnage were affluent. But an operation of this scale also requires logistical outside support. If Saudi Arabian clerics provided the ideology and Gulf returnees received their initiation in radical Islam during their tenures overseas, surely some country with easier passage into Sri Lanka provided the training? Like Pakistan?

A: The IS network in Sri Lanka is not linked to Pakistan but to India and the Middle East. The funding was mostly generated and the training too conducted in Sri Lanka itself. IS built several training camps including in Vanathavilu, Hambanthota, Nuwaraeliya. The technology was mostly from the Internet. The bomb maker was Mohammed Hashtoon, a bright, young Muslim who was radicalized and recruited by (the chief Easter Sunday terrorist ) Zahran Hashim. His wife, Pulasthini Mahendran, was a Tamil Hindu convert to Islam. Both studied together. An autodidact, Hashtoon worked at a pharmacy in Colombo and conducted the most lethal bombing at St Sebastian church in Negombo.