ISLAMABAD: As Washington casts doubt over the intentions behind the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which top US officials this week said “passed through a disputed territory,” analysts in Islamabad have called on the government to allay concerns.
This was discussed in a seminar on “US policy — new design towards Afghanistan, Pakistan and India: Commencement of the Trump era — an analysis” arranged by the International Relations Department of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) on Thursday.
Former Defence Secretary Lieutenant General (retired) Naeem Khalid Lodhi said that Pakistan should either remove or address the concerns US has over CPEC.
He added that Washington must be informed that the $56 billion project is for enhancing regional connectivity, trade and business activities and has nothing to do with strategical or security presence of China in Pakistan.
Referring to the recent US strategy realignment over Afghanistan amid accusations that Islamabad was continuing to harbour terrorists, he said that Pakistan actually would like to have a peaceful Afghanistan and that there will be no peace in Pakistan until and unless there is peace in Afghanistan.
Admitting that the relations between Islamabad and Washington have been frosty in recent times, the US must acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices against terrorism in which over 60,000 Pakistanis have been martyred apart from bearing a financial loss worth billions of rupees.
Lt Gen (retired) Lodhi said that Pakistan must continue raising a strong voice, as it has started in past few days, to tell the US and the rest of the international community that Pakistan must not be blamed for Afghanistan.
Quaid-i-Azam University Associate Professor Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal and Assistant Professor Dr Muhammad Mujeeb Afzal also highlighted how incumbent US President Donald Trump had a creeping Islamophobia.
They suggested that Pakistan, to counter the bloc led by the US, should join Russian-China block along with Turkey — which ended visas for Americans this week — and Iran — which is once again embroiled in another conflict with Washington over its nuclear reactors.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2017.