China ignoring potential in Pakistan

By Farman Nawaz and Yahya Khan

Thirteen years back when I was preparing my research thesis titled “image of China in Pakistani press” at the occasion of the 50th anniversary of China, it was surprising for me to know that only one writer had dared to criticize China’s role in Pakistan. Rest of the writers as routine praised the Sino-Pak friendship and used the famous slogans and phrases about this friendship but could not recommend any fruitful suggestions for the future.  Here in this piece of writing I will follow that old decent lady Afzal Toseef and hopefully Chinese intelligentsia will lend their ears to me for a while.

I will start from the Chinese negligence of establishing people to people contact in Pakistan. How many people in Pakistan wish to have friendship with Chinese on the internet? In the modern world people to people contact is the principal factor for establishing economic ties. Often on TV we see commercials of USAID that informs the people how US government is helping deserted Pakistanis. But sorry to say China never informed the common Pakistanis that how much Chinese investment is pouring in Pakistan. Perhaps Chinese are thinking that this approach may help them to be hidden from the terrorists’ gaze but the fact is that even this silent mode could not help China to work easily.

There are innumerable ways of contacting different groups and individuals. The best method is really the one that chimes well with the potential grassroots constituency. The Pakhtoon faction of our society is religious in nature. The Tableeghi Movement of Raiwand mainly relies on Pakhtoons for preaching Islam. This movement sends and receives delegations all over the world. I wonder why Chinese Muslims are not taking part in this movement. It is an easy method to penetrate into Pakhtoon society. The transport system of Pakistan is also in hands of Pakhtoons. The drivers of NATO supply vehicles are Pakhtoons. If imperialist powers are using the same Pakhtoons for Jihad so why shouldn’t China too penetrate by sending its trained Muslims into a preaching institution that is respected all over Pakistan.

The other neglected field is the educational field of Pakistan. It is because of education system started here by Western colonial powers that this area is still under the domination of the West. May be Chinese educationists are not as well versed in subjects related to arts and economics as the western scholars but China has complete command on the field of technology. The newly established universities in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Balochistan can easily be approached by China. These universities need support from abroad and China is in a position to help these universities by sending its delegations and to start technology related projects, Chinese Language programs and students and academia exchange programs. China can start here projects that will benefit it incase China shifts its industrial base in search of cheap labour.

Similarly these two provinces are not as fertile as Punjab and Sindh so Chinese help in the field of agriculture and supporting agricultural universities can be of great value for the people of these two barren provinces. Land can be taken on lease for decades to convert it into fertile valleys. According to my information such kind of offer was made by China to KPK provincial government during MMA rule. Even now China must keep on continue such initiatives. Information technology and agriculture are the two fields that China can develop easily in Pakistan.

It is the age of media especially popular media. Though Pakistani media mainly concentrates on local issues of political nature but whenever there is program on international issues or about technical issues like energy crises then experts from universities are invited however they also give examples of western countries. It shows the mental gap between Pakistani and Chinese intelligentsia. I have never seen an expert giving example of Chinese successes while explaining any technical issue like energy crisis.

In the last six decades we have only sung the songs of “our friendship is higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest sea in the world, and sweeter than honey”, but the Chinese model of success could not be imported to Pakistan. The fact is that slogan of Pak-China friendship is only limited to seminars but isn’t it the failure of China that this friendship never transmitted the concept of Chinese model of success to common Pakistanis? Chinese collaboration in Pakistani universities will create a class of experts that will have knowledge of Chinese expertise. Consequently common Pakistanis too will have a chance to listen the Chinese stories of success on media.

Another aspect of Chinese policy is its escapism from the two deserted provinces of Pakistan. China had started few projects in KPK and Baluchistan however after being targeted by militants the Chinese projects seem to be halted. The reason of the transformation of these areas into militant camps is the policy of negligence of Pakistan as well as regional powers. After being neglected for almost six decades these areas are now becoming no go areas and if not dealt carefully might become a hotspot for the regional powers too. During Jihadi era Pakhtoons were made fuel of the so-called Jihad. After that instead of starting reconstruction and reconciliation policies in the region it was left at the mercy of militants. Today again when the region needs the attention of regional powers, China has diverted its economic corridor towards our Punjabi brothers. Here we feel that just like US, China too has turned away from Pakhtoons.

This region is full of mineral resources. On many sites work has been started to exploit oil and gas while regions like Bannu, D.I.Khan, and Waziristan are waiting for its turn. Huge reservoirs are also found in these areas whose exploring licenses are issued. On the other side of the border where Chinese firms are busy, amid Taliban controlled areas in Afghanistan, in digging copper mines (Aynak) are in very close proximity to Peshawar and Bannu routes to Afghanistan. The road running from Kabul to Herat, also linked with Turkmenistan and Iran, is also close to the Bannu and Peshawar routes of Pakistan. While the same region of Pakistan is linked by roads to Quetta and then Gawader. Lakki Marwat in this region is located on such point that it can become a link to whole of Punjab while D.I.Khan is also linked by roads with Baluchistan and Punjab.

The most deserted region of this area is Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa which is totally ignored in this project of Sino-Pak Economic Corridor. How can be this region stabilized if US is not stopping drone attacks and China is escaping to invest in this region. A lot of pity for the dwellers of this region who have decreasing opportunities of economic activities, increasing terrorists attacks, faced by controversial drone attacks, fears of being kicked out from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and  exposed to fundamentalism and extremism.

The sharp bend in this route towards Punjab is a denial of justice with this war torn land. Still this project is not finalized and an alternate route can be passed through this region connecting the Southern districts of KPK with Gawadar, China and Afghanistan. This corridor can change the destiny of this deserted land. Here in Pakistan one of the causes of problems is the unjust distribution of resources. Fall of Dhaka is the practical example of this annoyance and unjust policies. At least China must not go after the directives of the ruling class. On one side China is licking its wounds caused by terrorism in its Muslim majority provinces but on the other side it is beyond understanding why China is ignoring the nurseries of terrorism here in Pakistan.

These were few case studies that I wanted to bring into the notice of Chinese intelligentsia. Chinese embassy in Pakistan can conduct a survey to find out the real and neglected potentials in Pakistan. To error is human but confession can put us back on the right track however if our errors take the shape of heap then even confession is a waste of time.


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