Is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in any manner hurtful to the Indian economy, or does it threaten its security? The people in the world, including pro-India West, don’t think so. But that is not the case with Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led cabinet, which appears to be hell-bent on sabotaging this historic Pak-China enterprise – with whatever device India can lay its hands on. Within weeks of signing the project in Islamabad during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit there was this noticeable spike in the RAW-special ethnicity-based incidence of terrorism in Balochistan. Obviously, when the moment people learnt of the gruesome massacre of some 20 labourers from Sindh and Punjab near Gwadar they looked towards India. Then there was the Safoora Goth carnage, followed in quick succession by the killings of a busload of Pashtuns of Balochistan in Mustang, near Quetta and the people believed these were the handiwork of Indian intelligence agency RAW. Modi’s men even tried at removing ‘kanta with a kanta’, and in return earned resentment of the million-plus army’s leadership which believes if India is in one piece today it is because of them. In Pakistan, reaction to all this wasn’t what the Modi government had expected; it was just the opposite of it. The Pakistani political leadership across the board saw through the Modi game and clinched consensus on the need and viability of the mega CPEC project that so perfectly fits in the region’s emerging geopolitical realities. So if Indian foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, is upset over the CPEC, as she demonstrated at a news conference in New Delhi on Sunday, it was expected – given failure to rupture nation-wide support in Pakistan for the economic corridor she seems to have been tasked to raise heckles against the corridor project at the diplomatic level. That CPEC is “unacceptable” to India, is India’s concern Narendra Modi was conveyed to the Chinese leadership during his recent visit to Beijing. The Chinese reaction to the Modi brag was polite but firm; “relevant co-operation carried by China in the relevant region will not target any third party (read India) and will not effect China’s position on the relevant issue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, told international media a day after Sushma Swaraj had expressed herself on the project.
Apparently, the Chinese leadership doesn’t take the belligerent posturing of Prime Minister Modi and his ministers towards regional countries seriously mainly, perhaps, because of the widely-held perception that they need these antics to compensate for all-round failure on the “ache din” (good days) agenda which won them power to rule India. When the CPEC was “unacceptable” to the Indian leader he had just finished signing up a $24 billion economic package with Chinese hosts. The fact is that the Chinese leaders understand why Narendra Modi has to be so much obsessed with India’s ancient past and his call to relive that era – as an option to his failed present. They take it lightly, and want to help India enter the modern age as a respectable nation. But to say the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is unacceptable to India that does not cut any ice with Beijing. The Chinese take a decision after great deliberations, but once it is taken come rain or shine they stand by it. Yes, within India the Modi government finds no real resistance to its bid to rewrite history – of late in New Delhi the roads named after Muslim kings and saints have been replaced with heroes of Hindu history. But that is not possible out of India; Narendra Modi cannot rewrite history, nor can he impede the march of time. That the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is for the progress and prosperity of the entire region is a fact that has been clearly explained by the Chinese side at the highest leadership level. Pakistan too has conveyed this to India in so many words. And, this India must realise that when it says the CPEC is “unacceptable” to it, not only does it expose its animosity against Pakistan, it also reflects on its hostility to China to which the said project is equally vital. Given growing tensions in the Pacific China is in need of a second channel for fuel supply from the Middle East through the CPEC. The said project has also the right potential to develop the western regions of China, which Beijing is anxious to undertake at a quick pace.
The text appeared as the Business Recorder editorial today.