Quetta Blast: Sabotaging China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
A deadly suicide bomber in Quetta-the provincial capital of Pakistan killed at least 74 people and wounded more than 100 on August 8, 2016 in an attack at the government-run Civil Hospital. Earlier, on the same day, unknown armed men killed Balochistan Bar President Bilal Anwar Kasi at Mannu Jan Road of Quetta. The dead body of the prominent lawyer was transferred to the Civil Hospital. The bomber struck at a crowd of mostly lawyers and journalists who were present into the emergency department of the hospital after killing of the Bar president.
Through its Amaq news agency, Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) claimed responsibility for the explosion at the Civil Hospital by saying, “The Middle East-based movement was behind the atrocity…a martyr from the Islamic State detonated his explosive belt at a gathering of justice ministry, employees and Pakistani policemen in the city of Quetta.” Earlier, an affiliated faction of the ISIS and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA) took responsibility for this attack, and pledged to continue such assaults.”
However, it is part of ploy that two terrorist groups accepted responsibility for the terror attacks in Quetta to divert the attention from the US-led India and Israel, as like Syrian war, American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad are playing double game with Pakistan to obtain the clandestine aims of their countries, particularly by sabotaging China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Balochistan’s Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri stated that the Indian intelligence agency RAW which was involved in subversive and terrorist activities in Balochistan was behind these latest terrorist attacks in Quetta city.
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif who visited the Civil Hospital and met with the victims of the deadly bombing said, “Having been defeated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, terrorists shifting focus to Balochistan…incident is an attempt to undermine improved peace in Balochistan, specially targeting CPEC.”
Addressing a seminar titled “Development of Balochistan and Economic Corridor” in Gwadar, Gen. Raheel Sharif had stated on April 13, 2016, “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the grand manifestation of the deep-rooted ties between China and Pakistan…indeed a corridor of peace and prosperity for the region and beyond, however Indian agency RAW is sabotaging the mega project.”
It is notable that when during the regime of the President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan initiated the construction of Gwadar deep-seaport in Balochistan province in March 2002 with Chinese assistance, sirens went off in the capitals of some European countries, especially the US, India and Israel which took it as a threat to their global and regional plans.
Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its ideal location among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the eyes of the US, India and Israel which intend to destabilize Pakistan for their collective aims, as the latter is also the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. However, development in Pakistan’s province of Balochistan has shifted the gravity of the Great Game of Central Asia to Pakistan.
During the visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to Islamabad, on April 20, 2015, he and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif signed 51 agreements for cooperation in various fields, related to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The establishment of CPEC between deep Gwadar seaport of Balochistan and the historic Silk Road city in western regions-Xinjiang of China will connect Gilgit-Baltistan through Khunjerab Pass. Beijing would also build an international airport at Gwadar, while the roads infrastructure in Gwadar would link the communication network of rest of the country to facilitate transportation of goods.
When Gwadar seaport becomes fully operational, it would connect the landlocked Central Asian states with rest of the world. Being the commercial hub, the port is likely to increase volume of trade, bringing multiple economic and financial benefits to Pakistan like the Suez Canal which changed the destiny of Egypt when Israel returned it to the former. It will enable high-volume cargo vessels to move in the major oceans. Gwadar project will not only uplift the impoverished people of Balochistan by providing thousands of employment opportunities and is likely to develop whole the province by redressing their grievances. The resulting prosperity in the province would trickle down to the Baloch people and damp the separatist sentiments, which the hostile elements, supported by the US, India and Israeli do not want.
The ink on China-Pakistan agreements—CPEC was barely dry when western media, especially RAW started playing up the Baloch insurgency. In this regard, the director of The Second Floor (T2F), a social activist Sabeen Mahmud was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Karachi on April 24, 2015—followed by a bomb blast in Sibi, Balochistan, which killed several persons on April 26, 2015. On May 13, 2016, at least 45 people (Shias) were killed and several injured after the unknown gunmen brutally opened fire on a bus of the Ismaili community in Karachi.
Without any doubt, Karachi bus incident was a handy work of the US-backed RAW to sabotage the Pak-China CPEC project by showing that if Pakistan government is not able to provide security to its citizens, how it can protect CPEC. Ismailis (Shia community) belong to Hunza (Gilgit/Baltistan) have a spiritual linkage with this area, are Pakistanis. The CPEC would also originate from the same region.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had said about the bus attack, “The enemies of Pakistan do not like the economic progress of the country. To put a stop to Pakistan’s economic progress is their agenda, some local elements and foreign forces are creating hurdles in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor programme which is vital for progress and development of Pakistan.”
In response to the $46-billion Pak-China project of CPEC, Washington broadly supported New Delhi and Kabul in signing a deal with Iran for a transport corridor, opening up a new route to Afghanistan via the Iranian port of Chabahar. In this context, during his visit to Tehran, on May 23, 2016, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed 12 agreements with Tehran, including a deal to develop Iran’s Chabahar port. India will spend $500 million on the project, with a plan to invest an additional $ 16 billion in the Chabahar free trade zone. Chabahar—located about 1,800 kilometres south of Tehran—is more than just a port with an adjoining free trade zone. But, CPEC is much bigger and viable project than Chahbahar, if Pakistan develops the project with speed, efficiency and transparency, it needs not be worried about Chabahar.
In this respect, on June 13, 2016, a Chinese newspaper, Global Times has blamed India for damaging the prospects of Gwadar by investing in Chahbahar to isolate Pakistan; however, it will not succeed in its designs. The paper elaborated, “Pakistan’s Sindh Province saw a bomb attack against Chinese engineers and small-scale protests against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) recently. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government claimed that anti-CPEC activities by foreign forces have been busted in Baluch Province. At the Beijing Forum held in Islamabad in late May, countries including the US and Japan have shown concerns over CPEC construction and even bluntly criticized the China-Pakistan friendship. CPEC is a significant part of the Belt and Road initiative, which is not only a domestic strategy of China to open up its central and western regions, but also Pakistan’s domestic development plan as well as regional integration.”
The recent India-Iran-Afghanistan agreement to develop a trade route from Chabahar to Central Asia has been portrayed by Indian commentators as having changed the historical Great Game for control of the connection between South and Central Asia through Afghanistan. But, the project will remain a dream after the collapse of the inter-Afghan negotiations. Notably, Islamabad considers that peace in Afghanistan is a guarantee of peace in Pakistan, therefore, has been striving for the same in utter sincerity. But, the US and India do not want to see peace and prosperity in the region. Sadly, Pakistan’s dominant role in Afghanistan’s peace process under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) has, deliberately, been sabotaged by killing of the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur in CIA-operated drone attack in Balochistan, which badly derailed Afghan dialogue process, as Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. While, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 15 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.
It seems that a double game is on to pressurize Pakistan to bring Afghan Taliban either for the dialogue or to take action against them. US, India and Israel have built a hostile nexus for the Great Game and are pressurizing Pakistan by limiting its choices. Afghanistan is witnessing a further escalation of conflict and chaos.
It is also due to unrest in Afghanistan that the US-backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline did not start. In 2009, Islamabad and Tehran had signed the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project without New Delhi, as the latter was reluctant in this connection owing to its pro-US tilt. Since then, it has been named as the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project. America had previously threatened Pakistan with sanctions, if it went ahead with the project.
America and Israel are seeing the Chabahar project with suspicion. To bolster its strategic contest with China and Russia, the US is moving towards a military alliance with India. America which is backing Indian hegemony in Asia, especially to counterbalance China is supplying New Delhi latest weapons, arms and aircraft. During President Barack Obama’s second visit to India, the US and India announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply New Delhi with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008. During Indian Prime Minister Modi’s recent visit to America, President Obama strongly assured him to favour India’s membership in the meeting of the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG). Earlier, Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with New Delhi. America had already contacted the NSG to grant a waiver to India for starting civil nuclear trade on larger scale.
But, the US-Iran ties could again become hostile, if new sanctions are imposed by the US Congress or differences arise over Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah or Israel. Although Iran’s nuclear issue has been settled, yet Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called it American historical blunder, and is still acting upon a war-like diplomacy against Tehran. If the pro-Israeli Donald Trump becomes American president, he would thwart the US-Iran relationship to secure Israeli dominate in the Middle East.
Now, Islamabad which has ignored the duress of Washington is convincing Tehran to start the implementation of the IPI project. In the recent past, high officials of Iran and Pakistan have met in this respect.