Amid reports that Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification will affect the ambitious CPEC project, China on Saturday clearly mentioned that the disqualification will not affect the $50 billion project. “We believe that the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership will not be affected by the change of the situation inside Pakistan,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, as quoted by Pakistan’s state-run APP news agency
Stating that the Supreme Court judgment on Panama Papers was Pakistan’s “internal affairs”, Kang said, “The all-weather friendship between China and Pakistan has withstood the test of time”. “As a friendly neighbour, China hopes that all parties and sections in Pakistan can prioritise state and national interests, properly deal with their domestic affairs, maintain unity and stability, and keep focusing on the economic and social development,” Lu said. He also urged political parties to unite for national interest.
Meanwhile, according to South China Post, the Pakistan’s military assured that the project would not be hampered by the sudden fall of the regime. However, according to Arif Rafiq, a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Institute, the Supreme Court’s directive has put China in a “peculiar position”.
“The Chinese are treading into new waters: this is the first civilian government in Islamabad Beijing has fully invested in. (But) while the Communist Party of China is deeply leveraged in the civilian government, military-to-military ties also continue to strengthen,” Rafiq said. “Nonetheless, some CPEC projects are bound to be investigated because of existing allegations of corruption linked to the Sharifs,” he said. “Some projects, such as the Port Qasim Coal Power Project, could come under greater scrutiny given the involvement of power brokers allegedly connected to Sharif family financial improprieties,” Rafiq said.
India has voiced several times against CPEC, as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (Pok), which is also claimed by India. China has made huge investment through CPEC to gain access to strategically important Balochistan through rail and road connectivity. The project has been shaped under Sharif-Xi leadership with firm backing from Pakistan military.
– PTI inputs