Pakistan Prime Minister’s aide and special assistant of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) affairs, Khalid Mansoor has accused the United States of colluding with India to sabotage the CPEC project, according to a DAWN report. Mansoor claimed that the US authorities plotted to block the multi-billion dollar project and economic lifeline of Pakistan.
Mansoor said, “From the point of view of the emerging geo-strategic situation, one thing is clear: the United States supported by India is inimical to CPEC. It will not let it succeed. That’s where we have to take a position,”
It is important to note that Islamabad happens to be the seventh-largest recipient of Chinese overseas development financing. Currently, 71 projects worth $27.3 billion are in progress under CPEC in Pakistan.
Western think tanks and commentators have said that CPEC is an economic trap bound to cause bloated public debt levels and increase Chinese influence in the domestic economy.
According to the Pakistan Prime Minister’s aide Mansoor, India and the United States are collaborating to “make attempts to manoeuvre Pakistan out of” the global infrastructure development plan BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) of the Chinese government. “There’s no way Pakistan will forgo any of its benefits. It has more than once burnt its fingers in (the Western) alliance in the past,” Mansoor said, further adding, “That’s the reason CPEC is seen suspiciously by both the United States and Europe… they view CEPC more as a move by China to expand its political, strategic and business influence,”
Mansoor also mentioned that he had a detailed discussion with the American embassy officials and that the United States is “taking stock of the economic and political consequences” of a withdrawal from the region might bring. He also revealed Islamabad’s plans of expanding the CPEC and including Taliban-led Afghanistan in the multibillion-dollar economic corridor.
Pakistan replaced Asim Saleem Bajwa with Khalid Mansoor recently as the new head of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Pakistan component of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative. The move was perceived as an attempt by Pakistan to please China as Mansoor is thought to be a favourite of Beijing. Reports had suggested that the change of chief was due to Beijing’s displeasure at the progress of CPEC projects in the country.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is known as one of the most ambitious projects of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. CPEC was announced with great fanfare in 2015 and looked upon as a ‘gamechanger’ for Pakistan’s economy.
While the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a programme envisioned by Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, wherein infrastructure loans are given to poor countries. In the event of failure to repay back the loan, China takes permanent control of the host country’s resources. It focuses on building airports, roads, seaports in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.