There pressure on the government, therefore affecting bilateral

   Thereare certainly security-related threats linked to the China-Pakistan EconomicCorridor and while most might originate in Pakistan, the Xinjiang province inwestern China is also facing security threats from Uighur militants and theEast Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Uighur and ETIM militants have longsought shelter in Pakistan’s tribal areas along with the local militants.However, Pakistan’s security forces have fought foreign militants in NorthWaziristan Agency including ETIM and Uighurs in recent months with thecommencement of the military operation Zarb-e-Azb which has also weakened theoperational capacity of ETIM (Khan, 2014). Furthermore, US drone strikes invarious areas of FATA have also dented the group by eliminating a number of itsleaders.The security of the corridor is of crucialimportance for Pakistan as well as China in order to further strengthen tradeand development-related ties.

It is feared that growing militancy will threatenthe commencement of projects designed for the corridor. It will thus be achallenge for both countries to quash militant groups and their fighters alongand across their borders. China also expects assistance from Pakistan in thisregard.

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The presence of local and foreign militants in Pakistani tribal areasusually generates pressure on the government, therefore affecting bilateralrelations (Rana, 2014).Militant groups in Pakistan are relatively lesshostile to China when compared to America and its western allies, but at the sametime, they have targeted Chinese citizens, workers and engineers in past. TheUighur militants’ links with the Taliban in FATA pose a major threat to Chineseinterests in Pakistan. An Uzbekspeaking militant leader Mufti Abu Zar al-Burmirecently released a video message directing all Taliban groups to carry outattacks on Chinese embassies and companies and kidnap or kill Chinese nationals(Rehman, 2014). The second source of threat to security could be Balochinsurgent groups who are against mega development projects in Balochistan,including Gwadar Port currently being developed by Chinese companies. Thirdly,the militant-criminal nexus in certain areas also poses a threat to Chineseengineers, workers and citizens in the form of kidnapping and robberies.

In thepast, there have been many incidents of kidnapping and killing of Chinesecitizens working and living in Pakistan.This part of the report discusses the natureand level of potential security threats to the China-Pakistan EconomicCorridor, which can appear in different parts of Pakistan in form of protractedviolence, terrorist attacks, kidnapping and criminal activities. The threatassessment for different regions–through which the CPEC will pass–is based onthe frequency of terrorist attacks reported from these areas over the past fewyears, and also the presence of militant, insurgent and criminal groups inthose regions. 3.1 Geography of the CPECThe CPEC is a huge project that will undertakethe construction of highway and railway links running through most of Pakistanstarting from Gwadar in Balochistan and culminating in Kashgar in westernChina, while passing through parts of Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab, KhyberPakhtunkhwa provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan to reach the KhunjrabPass and beyond to China. Eastern alignment: Pakistan and China have decided toinitially construct the eastern alignment of the corridor mainly due to tworeasons: first, Chinese companies are reportedly willing to undertake theconstruction of the eastern alignment on a BOT (build-operate-transfer) basis,and secondly it is more secure compared to the western alignment plannedearlier. The eastern alignment will run through only a few areas of Balochistanand KP provinces where the security situation is more volatile compared toother parts of the country. This change in original planning earned somecriticism from parliamentarians in these two provinces who thought the newalignment will deprive their respective provinces of development and employmentopportunities that the CPEC brings (The News, 2014).

Senators from KP and Balochistan during ameeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance held in June 2014 said thatthe new corridor alignment eastern excluded many areas of their provinces andthe new route largely passed through the Punjab (Ibid). The Federal Ministerfor Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal informed the senators that investorswere unwilling to construct the western route on a BOT basis. He said thegovernment had decided to construct the relatively more secure eastern routefirst with Chinese assistance and that it had not abandoned the originalwestern route, which would be constructed later (Ibid).The eastern alignment of the corridororiginates from Gwadar, travels parallel to the Makran Coastal Highwayeastwards (towards Karachi), and then after passing through parts of interiorSindh, and southern, central and northern regions of Punjab, it reachesIslamabad. From Islamabad, it extends to Haripur, Abbottabad, and Mansehradistricts of the relatively peaceful Hazara Division in KP –this part of thecorridor will also run through Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu andKashmir–and reaches Khunjrab after passing through Diamer and Gilgit areas innorthern Pakistan.

The corridor will also run through the Pamir Plateau andKarakoram Mountains. A link from Taxila through Peshawar and Torkhum willconnect the eastern alignment of the corridor to Jalalabad in Afghanistan.


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