fredag 13. august 2021

Pakistan shifts gears on China’s Belt and Road

Pakistan is changing direction on China’s Belt and Road in an apparent bid to assuage Beijing amid rising security risks to its in-country nationals, interests and investments. In a surprise and still unexplained move, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced last week that businessman Khalid Mansoor would be the nation’s new point person for the Beijing-backed US$62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure-building program.

The announcement said Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa will step down as head of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA), ending the military’s de facto two-year control over a scheme that has been riddled with delays and wobbled by militant attacks.

Khan’s statement came soon after the July 16 bomb attack on a bus that killed nine Chinese nationals including engineers working on a CPEC-related hydropower dam project. Pakistani officials have since indicated it was the dirty work of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uighur militant group bent on targeting Chinese interests both in Xinjiang and abroad, and other militant groups.