Chinese Investment in Pakistan: Rhetoric or Reality?

Chinese Investment in Pakistan: Rhetoric or Reality?

Much has been written and said about the announcement by the Chinese government in April this year to invest $46 billion in building an economic corridor, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in Pakistan linking China to the Central Asian republics. The announcement came on the back of the $12 billion loan package made to Pakistan by the World bank the previous year. However, despite the political rhetoric and the show of bonhomie between the leaders of the two countries, and, the media frenzy that followed such announcement, there are serious questions that need to be raised as regard the risks of the promised Chinese investment in Pakistan.  The lion’s share of the investments are largely going to be in the form of loans of $22 billion by Chinese banks to help resuscitate some of the ailing debt-ridden Pakistani coal and nuclear power plants. The loans can be broken down into two broad temporal categories, the ‘Early Harvest’ ones in the next 3-4 years, and, the other loans promised after 2020. [1]  The key question that China watchers need to raise here is, how much is the Chinese government willing to stretch it’s banks now that there is a stock-market meltdown, currency devaluation, import stagnation and deepening recession within it’s own country? Advocates of China’s overseas investment model will no doubt point to the muscular investment by China in countries fraught with high political, financial and credit risks in Latin America and Africa in the last ten years. In fact, the example of Venezuela, a politically and financially high-risk country in which China has invested over $52 billion from 2008 up till 2014, the biggest Chinese investment in any single country so far, may hold some of the answers.  Although foreign loan-related information is hard to come by as regards most Chinese state-owned lenders, it is estimated that international investments comprised one-fifth of China Development Bank’s loans in end-2014. The majority of the loans were commodities-backed and have gone to resource rich countries in Latin America and Africa which were deemed extremely high risk by western banks or western multilateral institutions. [2]  The overseas investment model of China Development Bank was based on the oil-for-loan model...

The Men in Uniform – A Class Apart

The Men in Uniform – A Class Apart

This one for all the soldiers who live dangerously to defend the nation – what trauma they personally go through is seldom realised. Editor    Adfar Shah Abstract: Forces today are beset with certain issues and challenges around the globe. The increased political instability, social rupture, widespread chaos, increased criminality, inequality shaped by disparities, structural violence, crisis and continuing public protests have undoubtedly increased the soldier’s troubles. Men in uniform, be they army or police personnel, are installed like machines to regulate everything peacefully – that too at the eleventh hour, without actually addressing the political and public issues. The soldier turns highly vulnerable and faces the public wrath every time for no of fault of his! The very same soldier also faces a plethora of negative stereotyping by the masses, is labeled in various negative stereotypes (sometimes correctly so) by the public mainly in conflict zones, as inhuman and treated like an enemy. Despite being armed, he is helpless and merely used in a manner similar to the scarecrow, to drive the public off in turbulent times. The question is, has the State forgotten the soldier and his sensitivities? Is there a need to empower the soldier (cop, commando or jawan) in the true sense to enable him to live with emotional balance and fight the challenging fourth generation war? There were many more similar questions that set aflame the questioning process in my mind while interacting with some of the men in uniform, mostly police personnel in the Kashmir Valley. This paper is based on casual interactions with men in uniform, besides the tool of observation and field experiences have been employed to analyze the soldier’s plight in conflict zones. The case of the Kashmir Valley has been taken for the researcher himself belongs to that context. Introduction My best friend belongs to the Jammu and  Kashmir Police Force. He came to meet me while I was enjoying my summer vacations at my home in the remote village of Watlar in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal District. Since Kashmir had witnessed some of the worst summer unrests since 2008,here, I enquired of him about his perception of their fighting the public (mob control/crowd management)...

Neither Azad nor Kashmir

Neither Azad nor Kashmir

Sahil Mushtaq POK covers an area of 5134 sq miles (13,927 Sq Km) with a population of 4.5 million. The region of POK is officially known in Pakistanistan as the Azad Govt of Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K).  The state is divided into three divisions viz Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Poonch and ten administrative Districts with Muzaffarabad as the capital of the state. The Muzaffarabad division comprises of Muzaffarabad and Neelam, Rawalakot division comprises of Bagh, Poonch and Sudhniti districts and Mirpur division comprises of Mirpur, Kotli and Bhimber.  These ten districts are further divided into 32 sub divisions. The people’s participation in the political and socio – economic development is ensured through elected institutions of AJ&K Legislative Assembly comprising 41 directly with 8 indirectly elected members and the AJ&K Council with 6 elected members.  Presently, Sardar Mohd Yaqoob Khan is the President and Chaudhary Abdul Majeed is the Prime Minister of AJ&K.  Urdu is the official language while Pahari, Mirpuri, Gujjari and Punjabi are also widely spoken. Farce of Autonomy & Anger against Pakistanistan in POK Theoretically, Azad Jammu & Kashmir is a self governing state under Pakistan’s control however according to the general public opinion and sentiment in POK reflects that “although ‘azad’ means ‘free’, the residents of Azad Kashmir are anything but free.  The Pakistan authorities govern Azad Kashmir with strict control on basic freedom and liberties”. It has been acknowledged by the global community as well Supreme Court of Pakistan has admonished Islamabad’s oppressive, undemocratic and colonial subjugation of the POK.  The residents of ‘Azad Kashmir’ are mostly Sunni Muslim and predominantly Punjabis, with barely 20 percent Kashmiris.  Expropriation of land and residence rights of natives in POK stands in sharp contrast to strictly adhered provisions in the Indian Constitution, disallowing non-Kashmiris to acquire property in J & K. Far from a ‘special status’ that Article 370 grants to J & K, people residing in POK lack any constitutional status whatsoever. Development wise, POK remains one of the poorest and most neglected part of Pakistan, with a minuscule per capita income of Rs 1,802 compared to J & K’s average of Rs 2,700. There is an acute shortage of electricity, water and basic amenities...

The Untouchable Class

The Untouchable Class

Remember Mirza Waheed, he wrote The Collaborator and gained instant fame. This entire write up (and its a long one – don’t plan to read bits and pieces because you won’t get the theme right) is all about what he calls Narrative Control. I know you would be fed up of Kashmir and my comments by now. However, unless you read the view from the other side of the fence you will never get to change the narrative. Waheed may be partially right but his views are obviously one sided. He hates India and the entire idea of India. He doesn’t realize that the imperfect India is surreal India; it is changing and will go through the dynamics of change as all developing nations do. His views are obviously western; thus his inability to absorb imperfect India. For all his supposedly independent and informed views he is misled by separatist propaganda. Not a whimper on what actually transpired in 1989, what happened to the pandits, no regret for them; no mention of who started the violence and why. The unfortunate part – he will be read and believed by many because there is no effort from our side to project the alternative view. To really take the wind out of his sails we need a change in narrative to counter his opinion of narrative control. How do we do that is the million dollar question. Unfortunately there are none who will think this through and come up with answers. We remain condemned to continue to be at the receiving end of a narrative which Waheed and his ilk control.  Syed Ata Hasnain The Torturable Class By Mirza Waheed When it comes to Kashmir, India acts as a police state, holding even speech hostage. Why this obsession with narrative control? Photo by Alexandre Marchand In the summer of 2012, I received a phone call from the Indian High Commission in London. It was odd. I hadn’t applied for a visa or any such thing. My wife and three-year-old son had, however, and had been waiting nearly three months. We were scheduled to visit my home in Indian-occupied Kashmir for my sister’s wedding, which was drawing close. We had been...

Jammu and Kashmir, Where Are We And Where Are We Going ?

Jammu and Kashmir, Where Are We And Where Are We Going ?

Lt Gen (Retd) Syed Ata Hasnain, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM**, VSM**  Commentaries on Kashmir have been the flavor of the season ever since Shekhar Gupta’s article in Dec 2013 suggested that the time was ripe for the Army to vacate the hinterland and restrict itself to the LC in J&K, declaring a ‘victory’ of sorts for the Indian State. A series of articles in response by informed military leaders argued that there was no question of a victory against our own people and that the Army was as yet relevant. This is because the conflict stabilization stage in J&K was still existent. Any decisions about diluting the Army’s role in the stabilization process would need to be taken in the light of the potential situation in the region as the draw down and vacation of Afghanistan is commenced by the ISAF in Afghanistan. These decisions need not be taken under pressure of adversarial propaganda about the presence of disproportionate strength of the Army in J&K. We also need not be pressurized about the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) presence or begin to think that its job is over because the residual strength of terrorists is extremely low. It needs to be remembered that the RR was raised for a purpose. Some claim it was to defeat insurgency while the truth actually points to the fact that it was raised for the purpose of re-integrating J&K with India; the task of re-integration has not yet been completed and therefore the necessity of the RR’s presence in Kashmir remains. Currently the main theme of all discussions on Kashmir is the likely effect of the withdrawal of the ISAF by end of 2014. Will it see a repeat of the events of 1989 which witnessed the inception of militancy and entry of foreign militants in Kashmir? The less informed are assuming that Kashmir will see much more turbulence in 2014-15. However, it perhaps may be  incorrect to template 1989 to 2014. The situation is vastly different. There are very few mercenaries in Afghanistan whose main commitment will be to assist the Taliban against the Afghan National Army without much attention towards Kashmir. The Pakistan Army will similarly be more...

The Army Take On Pathribal And Machil In Kashmir

The Army Take On Pathribal And Machil In Kashmir

Syed Ata Hasnain Seema Mustafa’s article ‘Army plays politics with fake encounters in Kashmir, is likely to upset many soldiers and rightly so. Firstly, it is a commentary, like many others doing the rounds, without trying to understand the military justice system. These are all based on the recent decision of the Army not to pursue the infamous Pathribal case any longer but pursue the Machil fake encounter case with convening of a general court martial (GCM). Secondly, it once again rakes up a dead issue, the tiff between the former Army Chief, Gen VK Singh and his successor, the current Army Chief, Gen Bikram Singh; going to the extent that the decision to prosecute the alleged perpetrators of Machil and not to do so in the Pathribal case is linked to the standoff between the Generals. As one who has served both the Chiefs and having reasonable knowledge of the two incidents being referred I am duty bound to clear the air, although it may have been better for the Army to officially do so. The only linkages that the two Chiefs have to these cases are purely co-incidental. Gen VK Singh was the Colonel of the Rajput Regiment right through his tenure as ‘Chief’; Machil was allegedly perpetrated by 4 Rajput, one of his many units, during the early part of his tenure. However, no Chief comes in the way of military justice and a description of the events will explain why and how. The Machil incident occurred in mid 2010 and came to fruition as a legal case to be tried by a GCM only in Dec 2013. Neither of the two Chiefs was handling the case at any stage; it was being handled at Srinagar with advice from Udhampur and Delhi; although overall responsibility of anything related to the Army is obviously the Chief’s. From all perceptions Machil was like an open and shut case and the Army had no hesitation to apply to the Chief Judicial Magistrate and thereafter to the Sessions Judge to take over the case, since it was one of dual jurisdiction (meaning it could be progressed through civil or military justice with first call resting...

Nitish visits ruins of socialist shibboleths – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Nitish visits ruins of socialist shibboleths – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tried to achieve many goals at the recent rally in Delhi, but the portrait of the ambitious leader that emerges is not very flattering. As we shall see, his objectives, statements, and demands lack any novelty; any chief minister of any state could have said similar things 10, 20, or 30 years ago. It is an open secret that Kumar aspires for the office of Prime Minister, something that is being viewed with expectation by ‘secular’ parties, including the Congress. There were enough hints of Kumar’s ‘secularism’—many Muslim supporters sitting in the front row, an Urdu prayer, a placard thanking the Bihar government for providing land to the Aligarh Muslim University, and so on. The dominant theme, however, was his reiteration of the demand for the special status for Bihar. Unsurprisingly, histrionics were the hallmark of his address: “We are not begging for special status. It is our right.” In a bid to elicit support from Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Orissa and Rajasthan—the states which have earlier sought special status—Kumar said, “We are happy that UPA government has agreed in-principle to grant our demand. But now we want it to be implemented soon. Do it now or it will be inevitable after 2014 elections. Only he who holds the hands of backward states will sit in Delhi.” Kumar’s bombast and symbolism emanate from his dirigiste ideology. The basic premise of this ideology is that only a few divinely ordained Wise Men and Women in New Delhi know what is good for the country and the people. They are in-charge of all the resources; in their wisdom, they distribute or redistribute these resources to states which, in turn, have their own Wise Men and Women. Growth, development, progress—everything is a function of the wisdom of these divinely ordained beings. Problems do arise because of the differences among Wise Men and Women, despite their divinity. But these problems, according to the dirigiste canon, can be resolved by fine-tuning the terms of engagement. The fundamental flaw of this ideology is that the supposedly Wise Men and Women happen to be politicians, bureaucrats, and hangers-on; and one has to be gullible to expect wisdom...

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