Pakistan’s relations with its neighbours especially India and Afghanistan will be crucial for maintaining the security of the ambitious economic corridor project linking Xinjiang in northwest China and the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea, a top security analyst has said.
There must be a “guarantee of security” for the project that will run through “Pakistan-controlled-Kashmir” and “tribal regions of northwest Pakistan”, Li Wei, director of the Institute for Security and Arms Control Studies – attached to the Ministry of Public Security -- said.
The security situation in the neighbourhood is very important for the project if it has t has to improve the economic situation in the region, Li said, adding: “India and Afghanistan are important countries in the region.”
“Geographically, the project is very important to boost economic development in western China and in South Asia and Pakistan,’’ Li said.
The port of Gwadar which the economic corridor will link was built, and now managed, by China. The corridor once in place will give China a link for its energy imports from West Asia. Pakistan hopes that the corridor will boost its economy and employment.
Li made the comments as a visiting group of top officials from China met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday to discuss various projects in Pakistan.
Sharif told the visiting Chinese delegation, led by Zhang Xiaoqiang, deputy of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top planning body, that Islamabad attaches top priority to the project that is expected to boost links trade links between the two countries.
Pakistan and China share a 600 km long border and Islamabad has a crucial role in maintaining peace in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In the past, China has alleged that “terrorists” from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) have trained in Pakistan.
Without mentioning Pakistan by name, Li too said ETIM members could be hiding in a South Asian country.
Li indicated that the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan will negatively impact peace in the region.
He said India, China, Pakistan and Russia should be part of any political reconciliation process that is initiated in Afghanistan.