A UN report has stated concerns that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may create more tension between India and Pakistan.
The report titled ‘The Belt and Road Initiative and the Role of Escap’ was released by the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap) at China’s request.
The report considers the Pakistan-India dispute over Kashmir as a source of concern, stating CPEC might create “geopolitical tensions with India and ignite further political instability.”
The report also points out other social and environmental safeguards as a concern to CPEC. It states there could be displacement of local communities due to the corridor. “In Balochistan there are concerns that migrants from other regions of Pakistan will render ethnic Baloch a minority in the province.”
Hazaras are also stated as a minority of concern. “If the benefits of the proposed CPEC are reaped by large conglomerates, linked to Chinese of purely Punjabi interests, the identity and culture of the local population could be further marginalised.” This may lead to re-ignition of separatist movements, leading to a tough military response from the government, the report said.
Other concerns revolve around destruction of farmlands and orchards as the corridor will pass through the “already narrow strip of cultivable land in the mountainous western Pakistan.”
Afghanistan’s political instability may also pose a problem to CPEC as it could “limit the potential benefits of transit corridors to population centres near Kabul or Kandahar”. These routes are where the Taliban are the most active.
The UN report points out the promise of closer trade, investment and energy cooperation CPEC holds for Pakistan. “China will support development projects in Pakistan and much needed investment to address energy shortages and a stagnating economy.
“CPEC could additionally serves as the driver for trade and economic integration between China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Afghanistan and Central Asian States,” it added.