Pakistani Senator rubbishes rumors of talks between China and Baloch militants

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News Desk |

Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi, a member of Senate of Pakistan denied any talks China has had with Bloch militants on February 21, 2018. He said, “It’s not China’s job to hold talks with Bloch separatists. I, or other parliamentarians, are not aware of this development, and it’s only Pakistan’s government parliament right to hold talks with Baloch separatists.” Sher Muhammad Bugti, a representative of the Baloch Republican Army, also denied having any negotiations with China while talking to Voice of America (VOA) from his exile in Switzerland. He added, “Separatists cannot hold talks with China. We do not know of any talks, nor have we been contacted (by China).”

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One day before this, on February 20, 2018, Financial Times and several newspapers in Pakistan stated that China was in talks with Baloch tribal separatists to pacify separatists in an effort to secure its development project China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) worth $62 billion.

 Subsequently, VOA reports claimed that there were no talks between China and the separatists from Balochistan to protect the CPEC project. Pakistani political analyst Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal expressed his views on the matter, “I do not think China would have directly contacted the insurgents. I believe any contact the Chinese would make would be through the government of Pakistan.”

A Special Security Division (SSD) comprising of 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 Para-military forces personnel have been set up for the security of the project, including Chinese individuals working on CPEC.

One official in Islamabad told Financial Times, “Ultimately if there’s peace in Balochistan, that will benefit both of us”. Balochistan retains a central position in CPEC as its routes originate from the Xinjiang region to Gwadar. It is the largest province of Pakistan in terms of area and rich in resources such as oil, gas, and copper reserves but there is a crucial need to use them efficiently.

Unfortunately, it has also been facing an insurgency from Baloch separatists, fighting to liberate Balochistan from Pakistan. Besides these separatists, there are some terrorist groups including Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an anti-Shi’ite militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahraar (JuA) etc in the region.

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Unless Pakistan’s government addresses the grievances of these groups and provide them job opportunities, it would be difficult to change the situation of Balochistan. China and its huge investment in the region in the form of CPEC is leading towards a possible situation of prosperity.

It is vital to maintaining peace and stability in Balochistan for the successful completion of this project, which assures prosperity and great standards of living in the region. Maintaining order is a prerequisite to secure and to complete this huge development project. For this, Pakistan’s Parliamentary Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) revealed in 2016 that a Special Security Division (SSD) comprising of 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 Para-military forces personnel have been set up for the security of the project, including Chinese individuals working on CPEC.

Read more: Will Chinese negotiations with Baloch militants help CPEC security?

China and Pakistan both have to pacify Uyghurs’ separatist movement in the Xinjiang region and Baloch militants respectively in their full capacity to ensure the security of these regions. It is more important to meet internal challenges against CPEC so that external challenges coming from India and the US could be confronted efficiently. Furthermore, improved climate conditions, good governance, and a securitized environment to enable CPEC investments to generate resources can be used to cover their own associated outflows.

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