GENEVA: China has asserted that Gwadar Port project is not only in the best interest of Pakistan and China but also in the best interest of the region’s development.
The Chinese representative spoke in favour of Pakistan-China friendship after nationalist leader Mehran Baloch, the Baloch Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), used his speech to the United Nation’s 22nd general debate session of HRC to allege that Balochistan’s natural resources are being exploited by Pakistan with help from China.
China took over management of the port on the Arabian Sea last week to finance more than 80 percent of the $248 million development cost of the port. This agreement is part of a plan to open up an energy and trade corridor from the Gulf, across Pakistan to western China but the deal has not been liked by India, America and Baloch nationalists who see it as the consolidation of Pakistani power in the trouble-hit province.
China rarely replies to the criticism levelled against it at the UN forums but as if anticipating that the issue of Gwadar port would be discussed, the Chinese delegation had come prepared.
Mehran Baloch said that Saindak copper mines were being already “milked” by China and “now Gwadar port has been handed” to China and it will be soon that China will build a military base there too as former Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar had publicly requested China to do so.
The Chinese representative, answering Mehran Baloch’s charges, told the delegates that China and Pakistan are friendly neighbours and for a long time the Chinese enterprises have taken an “active part in the development and construction in all sections of Pakistan”.
He told that the Chinese enterprises are engaged in the Gwadar development project as a joint co-opertion project between the two countries. “It’s part of the friendly cooperation between the two countries” and nothing more should be read in it.
Mehran Baloch said that with militarisation of Gwadar Port not only Baloch will suffer but also the region and the world peace will face threats too. “It is not the port alone. The planned airport there is 6,000 acres which is twice the size of Heathrow London. A country which has its foreign exchange reserves less than second string billionaires certainly cannot build the airport on its own.”
The Chinese representative replied that Gwadar port is not only in the “best interest of the two countries and both people but also in the best interest of the region’s development”.
Mehran Baloch said that Balochistan is used as drug conduit as the UN office on drugs and crime (UNODC) has reported that drugs worth $30 billion pass through Pakistan. He told the delegates that the data released by state banks implicitly proves that this passes through Quetta and Peshawar.
He alleged that “the illegal money finances the war of terror in Afghanistan and the death squads in Balochistan. Illegal money multiplies in turmoil and it means people are deprived of their share”.