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CPEC and Kashmir issue

Updated Mar 15, 2017 08:17am


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While the relationship between Pakistan and China is strengthening continuously, there is an underlying debate on how the two countries’ increasing cooperation will have an impact on the Kashmir dispute. Observers raise the question whether the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can be useful in initiating a dialogue process for the resolution of this decades-old dispute between Pakistan and India.

From a political economy perspective, such a mega project could have a negative impact if there is no peace in the region. But, if dealt smartly, it can go a long way in resolving not only the Kashmir issue but also other disputes in the region. However, this will largely depend on how India reacts to events unfolding in its next-door neighbours.

Examine: Chinese naval ships at Gwadar port call for a rethink of India's regional policy

The CPEC passes through Gilgit-Baltistan, a region which India claims is part of their territory. The economic corridor is connected to the Karakoram Highway, the world-class 1,300km highway at an elevation of 4,693 metres which is also called the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. Comprising a number of development projects, the $46 billion worth CPEC connects Pakistan and China through networks of roads and railways.

The chief minister of held Kashmir has suggested building a corridor between South Asia and Central Asia with Kashmir as its nucleus

It is the reason that India opposes the CPEC project, claiming that it passes through a disputed region.

Majority of mainstream political parties and pro-freedom groups in India-held Kashmir have so far not found a connection between the CPEC and the Kashmir dispute. Mehbooba Mufti, the chief minister of India-held Kashmir, has recently suggested building of a corridor — similar to the CPEC — between South Asia and Central Asia with Kashmir as its nucleus. She points out that “taking advantage of its geographical location, Jammu and Kashmir could become a nucleus towards forging a new economic alliance in the region”.

Talking about economic dynamics that could influence political issues has usually not been the forte of Kashmiri politicians. But perhaps the rise of China and the use of a territory which is considered by India as part of the disputed one have made politicians in the occupied valley pay attention to new developments in the region.

The prominent pro-freedom leader of Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, believes that Kashmir can become a gateway to Central Asia. In a recent interview, he said that in terms of larger economic activity everybody wanted to be part of the CPEC.

He finds the mega project as an opportunity for the region to become part of the ancient Silk Route, even before the resolution of the Kashmir issue. “Kashmir can be a gateway for India as well. I am sure India will also want to be a part of the CPEC. Coming year is going to be very interesting as economic and political equations are going to be changed…”

However, no one is giving any blueprint for such a plan, especially when India is continuously opposing the CPEC. India is also not happy over holding of elections in Gilgit-Baltistan by Pakistan, claiming that it is against the disputed nature of the region.

Though China has always supported Pakistan over the Kashmir dispute, it wants Pakistan and India to resolve this issue through dialogue.

Mostly people in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan believe that if India joins the CPEC it will benefit both countries, especially people in the occupied valley.

Yasin Malik of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front was the first to oppose any change in the status of Gilgit-Baltistan. He has written a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, reminding him that any change in the status of the region would lead India to consolidate its hold on the held Kashmir.

In a reply, PM Sharif told Mr Malik that his concerns and suggestions were valuable and they were being examined with care. “I would like to make it unambiguously clear that Pakistan is fully aware of the sensitivities attached to Gilgit-Baltistan with regard to Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” he had said in the reply to Mr Malik.

Some observers in occupied Kashmir are of the opinion that making Kashmir an entry point to the CPEC may only benefit India. But at the same time they believe that inclusion of India in the mega project can pave the way for resolution of its dispute with Pakistan.

If India decides to join the CPEC or even find a way to connect the occupied valley with the economic corridor, the politics of the region would take a new turn. This would lead to increasing engagement between the two sides and help connect people through economic interests.

The observers are of the view that such a decision would prove to be a game-changer for the region. It would reduce political tension in South Asia and initiate a new chapter of economic development in the region.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2017


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Comments (87) Closed

Dingus Mar 15, 2017 08:29am

Nonsensical article. How will connecting to a road help things?

Gurpreet singh Mar 15, 2017 08:33am

India can join the CPEC but for that to happen, the LoC along J&K will have to be formalized into an international border. We have wasted enough time, resources & precious lives fighting each other for the last 70 years. Lets to trade, live like brothers and make borders irrelevant between the two countries.

VIRKAUL Mar 15, 2017 09:01am

What is the connection between China and Pakistan coming together? That has been so for decades. Cooperation between two countries cannot take place until East West trade route opens and both countries have stake in each other.

Desi Dimag Mar 15, 2017 09:33am

Nothing will change, CPEC will create more trouble.

Desi Dimag Mar 15, 2017 09:31am

Pakistan is not following Kashmir resolution. India will get the advantage of this.

D.K.PAMNANI -INDIA Mar 15, 2017 09:35am

How it will help India. Not Clear. Is Bagha Border road going to Pakistan has given any gain to India?

SOUTHINDIAN Mar 15, 2017 09:40am

Seriously? Please understand the purpose of CPEC. It is to give it an opening into the Indian Ocean. Similarly, India is already building a Myanmar-Thailand highway that will mostly get extended to the South China Sea. As far as connectivity to Europe is concerned, India might play the Tibet card using the ancient Kolkata-Lhasa transit line.

SOfia Mar 15, 2017 09:47am

Silk Route through Kashmir, has made it worse.

point of view Mar 15, 2017 10:00am

I think, the CPEC has been over rated. It is just for transport of Chinese goods.

Sky Mar 15, 2017 10:35am

It adds more tangles and makes it difficult to resolve. Status quo tends to prolong.

A Mar 15, 2017 10:38am

China and Pakistan will never allow India..........CPEC has strategic importance for China's Military Ambitions; a fact taken into consideration by all.

Further, India has expressed reluctance on this giving reason of security concern due to internal disturbances in Pakistan.

bryan Mar 15, 2017 10:51am

@Dingus I think there is a point here. The more CPEC strengthens the more it builds pressure to normalize things from the territory it passes. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. If it cannot reach Kashghar - for which it was originally conceived then the pressure will be so huge so as to negotiate hard bargains. It would become economics v/s ideology of sorts. Since big money and long term future rides on it there is a whole new window of opportunity to find lasting solution. The investor and the recipient both have big money, efforts, risks at stake. So I think that the article is relevant.

KT Mar 15, 2017 11:02am

Anyone in world has one instance to share until now where CPEC is used by Pakistan to trade its goods with East Asian countries ?

YogiJi Mar 15, 2017 11:11am

Transporting goods from Arabian sea into china thru Pakistan is good for china but for Pakistan and region..

ANT Mar 15, 2017 11:18am

Kashmiri politicians have zero influence on Indian foreign policy. They can barely maintain their hold on state politics.

Raj Mar 15, 2017 11:41am

China has always supported Pakistan and that is nothing New. India has a huge market that developed countries are vying to tap and I am not sure why India will give that opportunity to China and Pakistan. Moreover India is already on the path to development and will achieve its goal in a few decades and do not need China or CPEC for it.

Mohajir Mar 15, 2017 11:51am

CPEC is a network to dump cheap Chinese goods to South Asia. India is smart enough to stay away from it.

xtra Mar 15, 2017 12:02pm

If wishes were horses...

annie Mar 15, 2017 12:18pm

India should stay away from CPEC until kashimir issue solved...CPEC is just a road to transport chinese goods to Pakistan (within India there are many such cooridors... plz google it) India should should start its operations of Chahabar port and connect as planned.

Sid Mar 15, 2017 12:22pm

Really ?

PRASANTA CHANDRA DASH Mar 15, 2017 12:25pm

CPEC doesn't look commercially viable at the first look. The present slow down in China makes the future of this project more shaky. I think the Chinese intention may be expanding it's military reach over south and central Asia and encircle Tibet.

Khawar saleem aslam Mar 15, 2017 12:29pm

Very sensible review for projecting a big picture for the benefit of all.

wasif Mar 15, 2017 12:41pm

india want to solve it through blood shed....... CPEC will a step on india jugular vein but no one decline the right over Kashmir.

raja hindustani Mar 15, 2017 12:41pm

But why India will Join CPEC? India share almost 4000 Km length of Border with China and both countries are already doing trade from well connected roads from various points. Similarly, India is already doing business with Pakistan through existing route in punjab & J&K and both countries can to trade with sea route as well.

Khalid Mar 15, 2017 01:00pm

Politics and Economics are always joined at hips. So if the economic cooperation between two arch enemies is stimulated through Kashmir via CPEC then though very difficult to pull but it will go a long way in cooling political rhetoric down. Then may be economic interests will force all parties to think rationally for the betterment of people of the region instead of in rhetorical terms.

Recently statement of a Pakistani general that India should think about joining CPEC was a very pragmatic and bold statement. We hope that Indians and Pakistani politicians can think out of the box and deliver the true potential to the people of the region that they deserve, which is to become powerhouse of world economy as they were in pre colonial times.

It doesn't mean that borders will cease to exist but it could be a great common wealth of states. Our future lies here in this region and in accordance with the best interests of people here instead of wishes of powers thousands of miles away.

GOVIND Mar 15, 2017 01:02pm

CPEC is overated . Nothing will change.

anon Mar 15, 2017 01:08pm

Any why exactly would India even want to consider examining such a proposal?

rana Mar 15, 2017 01:22pm

First try to get what ever profit you will get from CPEC.then India may think.

abbas Mar 15, 2017 01:26pm

respect, harmony & love must prevail between Pakistan & India. And including India. Iran & Afghanistan even Bangladesh in CPEC will be beneficial for the region.

From India Mar 15, 2017 01:28pm

Utter nonsense, India will never join in CPEC

Random Mar 15, 2017 01:26pm

Pakistan can fantasies about CPEC as an 'Aladdin Lamp' which will fulfill all their ambitions and dreams. CPEC is merely an international highway.

N.S Mar 15, 2017 02:15pm

Indians commenting here...Sadistic thoughts are not good for you people. Act like a big country, open to others and all encompassing.

People who feel inferior to others see themselves as incompetent, unworthy and weak. They lack a sense of power and control. You may be compensating for those unpleasant feelings by targeting others in an attempt to gain a feeling of power and control. There may be other motivations as well.

aleem Mar 15, 2017 02:17pm

"Mostly people in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan believe that if India joins the CPEC it will benefit both countries, especially people in the occupied valley."

Where this come from. People of Azad kashmir want to keep India as away as possible as nothing good is going to emerge from Indians ever.

Bertie Mar 15, 2017 02:27pm

Pakistan doesn't offer India road connectivity to Afghanistan and expects it to join CPEC

Blogger Mar 15, 2017 02:31pm

Time will come when China will press both India and Pakistan to settle Kashmir issue on existing borders so that it need not vacate areas taken from India and Pakistan.The losers will be the people of Kashmir where politicians and separatists don't have the future of Kashmiris in mind

Kumar Mar 15, 2017 02:48pm

@anon 1. It gets rid of terrorism. If India agrees to this, it is a big relief to China and they will push Pakistan to keep its end of the bargain. 2. India gets in on the CPEC. This will be beneficial to both Pakistan and China. For Pakistan, it gets another possible trade partner and for China it is added security.

zak Mar 15, 2017 03:16pm

@From India Good-stay out.

Tamil Mar 15, 2017 03:24pm

If we dont join CPEC, we will be left on the sideline. CPEC looks like China's economic belt around the world. Those in it will get rich and well off. It will benefit the people. If our government does not ask to join, than it means, they don care for us the people.

point of view Mar 15, 2017 03:37pm

If Pakistan is serious in asking India to join the CPEC, Pakistan should allow Indian to have transit route to Afghanistan. This will create a goodwill gesture.

SURYA KANT AGRAWAL Mar 15, 2017 03:37pm

This is going to be big big issue defining India, China and Pakistan relationship.

RAVEENDRA NATH Mar 15, 2017 03:39pm

@PRASANTA CHANDRA DASH - you are right.

point of view Mar 15, 2017 03:41pm

@N.S, why do you want to say ?

zak Mar 15, 2017 03:39pm

@point of view Kashmir UN Plebiscite first.

imtiaz ali khan Mar 15, 2017 03:41pm

CPEC continuation is good to see, so much construction going on in Pakistan. All of us Pakistanis know that Pakistani motorways are world class, and can match any developed nations highways. Now it is amazing to see massive constructions of Road, Bridges, Fiber optic cables net spreading, solar, wind energy projects etc., Longer term benefits are going to be mutual of us Pak/Sino family.

Loan interest rates/corruption have to be under control other wise CPEC is truly a game changer. Pakistan can be a the next Asian tiger like the president of China said. Pakistan is a big country, but certainly not as big as India or China. Our problems can be solved faster than India/China if corruption is rooted out. Having this big business investment by China sure will curb violence and influx of Chinese people will make us more diverse and corruption also have to be limited as the Chinese are keeping an eye on the project completion, so the land route can open.

Long live Pak-Sino friendship.

imtiaz ali khan Mar 15, 2017 03:48pm

CPEC will help curb extremis min Pakistan, if the business get affected China will come hard on Pakistani corrupt leaders, so they will have not choice but to curb extremism/corruption. I have more faith in China's community party than this Nawaz/Zardari parties what a joke. Corruption kings have new head bosses known as the Chinese communist party.

imtiaz ali khan Mar 15, 2017 03:55pm

What a beautiful country you gave us Almighty. Thank you Almighty for giving us our Pak Land.

Pakistan Zindabad, Pak armed forces and our scientist around the world Zindabad.

imtiaz ali khan Mar 15, 2017 04:00pm

China knows how much we Pakistanis love them. No other country on this planet earth outside of China loves China more than Pakistan. May this opening of land route help China rise along with Pakistan and the region. Qilai!

Vijay Reddy Rajput Mar 15, 2017 04:07pm

@imtiaz ali khan Don't speak too soon brother!

Khwarizmi Mar 15, 2017 04:34pm

The Muslim population of Gilgit-Baltistan wants nothing to do with India just as Kashmiris wants nothing to do with India. Why is India hellbent on taking Muslim lands? These are our lands and we have always lived here. How would Indians feel if we took over Rajasthan or Gujarat state?

Avtar Mar 15, 2017 04:43pm

Let us assume all the rosy scenarios from CPEC are possible and creating opportunities for all Asians (Central, Eastern and South) come to fruition. One can get some one like Trump who can destroy or disrupt the free trade agreements such as NAFTA by mere threats. Making emotional South Asians with unemotional Chinese is going to be a challenge.

Shailendra Sapra Mar 15, 2017 04:44pm

China would never want harmonious relations between India and Pakistan.

Dabang Mar 15, 2017 04:51pm

Let CPEC be operational first. Let us see how it benefits Pakistan and how Pakistan is able to trade efficiently with central Asian countries. Why every day Pakistan should shout CPEC loudly. There are many economic corridors in development around the globe. About Kashmir, the issue is between India and Pakistan and no economic corridor can solve it.

imtiaz ali khan Mar 15, 2017 04:57pm

So many people here talk negative about CPEC. It's sad.

RAJA CHILL Mar 15, 2017 05:39pm

With pakistan becoming so dependent on CPEC and US looking away from from pak,looks likely that china will have position to influence pakistan to compromise its stand on kashmir.On India china has negligible influense.

SK Mar 15, 2017 05:47pm

Pakistan Railway has not sent official to attend Trans Asia Connectivity Meet arranged by UN to discuss the Technical Feasibility of running a container train from Dhaka all the way to Istanbul via India,Pakistan and Iran. Meeting is held at New Delhi for 3 days starting from today. No reasons are given for the same!!

Will Pakistan allow India and Bangladesh to join CPEC when above indication is there ?

Raj KUMAR Mar 15, 2017 06:09pm

@Khalid very practical explanation,now explain to me what advantage India will derive after joining CPEC,All along west coast of India there are ports available which are delivering what ever material required in India,as far as China is concerned we have a long direct border from where time will be far shorter to reach consumption points in China instead of going thru Cpec,yes if a east west corridor is opened connecting central Asia (which India had asked and Pakistan refused) it will benefit all. However all options are worth exploring if it benefits people of this region.

Lootra Mar 15, 2017 06:13pm

@Gurpreet singh Why would India join CPEC? CPEC is to allow for Chinese goods to move quickly on land by bypassing a major sea route. India already has ports in nearby vicinity for it's own goods so it doesn't make sense to pay Pakistan for transiting a few hundred kilometers overland. The map in this article does a good job of showing how close India is to Gwadar. Just so you understand, and as I have been saying all along, you need to understand that CPEC is a transit route and not a trade route and that is a big difference. There is nothing in CPEC for India as a cost benefit. I am not saying this on account of the usual India-Pakistan tensions but simply as a matter of good business sense.

Observer Mar 15, 2017 06:16pm

@imtiaz ali khan You call it negative, but it is the truth.

Feroz Mar 15, 2017 06:21pm

All very nice but assuming that the terrorists will quietly disappear into the darkness and peace will prevail is stretching imagination a bit fine. What happens to the Jihadis has not been covered which though convenient reflects naivete.

Raj KUMAR Mar 15, 2017 06:26pm

@Khwarizmi go back in History,this was never land of invaders.this was land of native people,so why one native wants to seperate from another native person??

GroundReality Mar 15, 2017 06:34pm


Your comment is far from reality.

adventurer Mar 15, 2017 06:51pm

Most of the countries worldwide are moving ahead by removing all the trade barriers. The EU, GCC, North america etc all of them are prospering. But our region who if they can stand together setting aside disputes and instead make moves to solve them mutally, can set everybody else behind.

Therefore it is for the people to bring the right people to lead the country with focus mainly on peace, trade, friendly relations with the neighbours. For instance take the scenic beauty, it can be one of the best money churner and our region has the best of it and envy of rest of the world. People movement within it can by itself bring in prosperity in terms of economic progress. Hope 2017 will bring in peace and good relationship among all the neighbours.

Syed Ahmed,canada Mar 15, 2017 07:01pm

Keep India away, it is going to mess up everything.

Rahat Mar 15, 2017 07:17pm

Plz stop treating CPEC as a panacea.

Paklander Mar 15, 2017 07:25pm

NO India please!

kailash Mar 15, 2017 07:43pm

@Bertie well said

Ismail Mar 15, 2017 08:07pm

India is first interested in two way land transit access to Afghanistan. Once this is granted, we can talk about the rest

brr Mar 15, 2017 08:20pm

Absolutely nothing to be gained.

Merit Mar 15, 2017 09:36pm

Pakistan must keep India out of CPEC to ensure promotion of her own exports. Kashmir got nothing to do with CPEC.

IQBAL HADI ZAIDI Mar 15, 2017 10:17pm

CPEC has been viewed by different people both from the government and general public highlighting in-numerous different advantages from many varying angles and perceptions namely economic, political, social etc what Pakistan is supposed to reap through CPEC which could not be reaped otherwise whatsoever and I in my pwn interest should not ever dare to dispute them unless and until I am my own enemy. However, I wonder more and ponder less as to how and why our Platos and Aristoles could ignore and forgot to mention that in addition to all that what has already been said now CPEC is also our matrimonial site where Pakistani men and women can find their life partners as well. Incidentally let me elucidate that there are millions Muslims in China so no worry hence hurry.

ANT Mar 15, 2017 10:58pm

CPEC will be used to dump cheap Chinese products in India and India will be the major destination for them. India should ban all Chinese goods that use CPEC .

Honest-Liberal Mar 15, 2017 11:14pm

This seems to be an idea of it's and buts.. If Pakistan really want to solve the Kashmir issue then allow India to pass through it to reach Afghanistan and central Asia and moreover start working on TAPI pipeline, by this way they can have a leverage on India and bring India on table for discussion on Kasmir issue..

mfk Mar 15, 2017 11:40pm

“When goods don't cross borders, soldiers will” French Economist Frederic Bastiat.

Regional Trade is the only way ahead to prosperity. Alas if only we (Indo Pak) choose Glory over Prosperity !

Huang WEI (姓 名) Mar 15, 2017 11:47pm

No it cant as CPEC will expoit pakistan markets

Azhar Mar 16, 2017 01:08am

It's Chinese loan not has to pay back with 17% return guarantee.

Gurpreet Singh Mar 16, 2017 01:11am

@Lootra: I understand your point. My comment was more generally referring to trade & opening of transit routes rather than specifically regarding CPEC. India may or may not have anything to gain from CPEC but it can certainly gain from unrestricted trade with Pakistan and from transit route to Afghanistan from which it can further access Iran, Central Asia and beyond.

khurram khan Mar 16, 2017 01:20am

@Gurpreet singh "like brothers" ....nicely put

Udayan Mitra Mar 16, 2017 01:47am

Can anyone explain what "India should join CPEC" actually means? Isn't it simply a highway that connects China and Pakistan, built and paid for by the Chinese?

amin Mar 16, 2017 01:56am

India is a big country with a small heart. It wont do anything that benefits Pakistan even a little bit even though they may also benefit.

Counterpoint Mar 16, 2017 04:35am

I think author thought the only route to connect to China is via Pakistan. Sir, please check the map.

& How does India benefit from a road? China's​ simply going to dump it's products in India & What happens to India's manufacturing jobs? With immigration getting harder, India should focus on producing itself rather on imports.

Kevin Mar 16, 2017 05:33am

India actually do not need CPEC when she is more easily connected to central asia through Chhabar port. The economic opportunity for CPEC will be largely for China than for India.

Shaukat Mar 16, 2017 03:51pm

@Gurpreet singh , Singh gee, we are talking about oranges and you are talking about onions, the root cause is THE KASHMIR and you are talking about selling Indian clothes and fruits.

Sensible neighbor Mar 16, 2017 07:23pm

Some facts for Pakistanis 1. CPEC will flood Pakistan with Chinese goods, destroying whatever industry is left. 2. CPEC is a point to point corridor, between Pakistan and China. No other country gets any benefit out of it, except China. 3. If India has to do business with China or Pakistan, it can do so already so no other benefits for India to join CPEC. 4. CPEC comprised of few roads , few power stations ( generating expensive electricity with fixed tariff) and some city cleaning projects as apparently Pakistanis can not clean their own cities. It may be a "game changer" for Pakistan but for rest of the world , it is normal infrastructure development that happens all the time.

Pragmatic approach Mar 17, 2017 12:07am

Nobody ever expect that Berlin Wall will fall in 1989, but it happened,and now huge shipments of Russian consignments pouring through Hamburg German Port. The key to resolve Kashmir issue lies with India, and it's between Indian & IOK to resolve all issues,and open gateway for great development, in this region.

Shahid Mar 17, 2017 10:24am

@abbas really sir if u thinking about the development of all our asia then we have to become our thoughts be possitive, we refuses all the negative thoughts that become ours minds as an evil and keep us backword win loss situation.. we all should be think about the win win situation.. and should become true in way of work as united and together.

Shahid Mar 17, 2017 10:27am

@Gurpreet singh thanks sir i appriciate your and like you many others who want be a part of peace and developing asian dream..

Shahid Mar 17, 2017 10:31am

@Desi Dimag how cpec can be trouble.. its a trading project ... and trade never be create any trouble..