Handing over Gwadar

Giving a port to a foreign power is inadvisable, and we may also harm relations with China’s Indian, American rivals.

Editorial February 19, 2013
Lei pointed out that Chinese companies have actively been taking part in the construction of various projects in different fields. PHOTO: FILE

As with some other projects conceived during the Pervez Musharraf era, the development of the Gwadar port which started out on an encouraging note later left much to be desired. Security concerns had a part to play in the inability of the government to get the project off the ground. Now, with all work in Gwadar having ground to a halt, we have decided to simply hand over the port to China. China, which saw a lot of potential in having access to a port that would reduce the length of many of its trading routes and also give it a base that could advance its security needs, had made a lot of initial investment in Gwadar. Now, it will have control of the port, but until Gwadar is properly developed, this control will be of limited practical value.

The one concern that should be raised regarding this is that of sovereignty. A port, even if it is yet to be developed, has potential strategic and commercial value. Giving it to a foreign power is inadvisable, especially in this case, since we may end up harming our relations with China’s Indian and American rivals. For now, there is no imminent threat since Gwadar is not functional. It must be noted that China did not see the possible value of Gwadar as compensating for their security concerns. In fact, it was Pakistan which requested China to make Gwadar its naval base, but the Chinese did not accept.

The government never got around to building the roads and rail network that are crucial to connecting the port. The Singapore Port Authority, which was previously in charge of developing Gwadar, was so frustrated being rebuffed by the government that they simply asked out of their contract. We are now asking the Chinese to rescue us and essentially handing over Gwadar in a bid to do so. Also, considering that the people of Balochistan are already so alienated, making such a decision without taking them on board is not wise.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.


VINOD | 9 years ago | Reply

@Akhtar Malik: Dear Sir, Thanks for words of appreciation. You have further said "And mind it, if Pakistan becomes victim of this aggression then it will not remain confined to Pakistan, India will also become target of this global plan. So it is very essential that we should involve China in this scenario." I totally agree. In fact why China alone India and other neighbors be involved to negate the terrorists and separatists operating under the umbrella of any super power. This sub continent has to be free to develop. This can be achieved with mutual trust and signing defense pacts etc with each other on the basis of equality and honor. Handing over our territory to any one for that matter is a suicidal way. If we remember the old history of subcontinent this handing over is the sure way to suicide. Outsiders always take away every thing when ever two neighbors, partners or brothers fight. Pakistan has done the same earlier by handing over large areas of Ladakh and that today is China not Pakistan. Any way request deeper thinking. Regards.

Akhtar Malik | 9 years ago | Reply

Dear VINOD: I partly agree with your analyses and admit that allowing the Europeans into India without appreciating their future plans was a blunder that resulted into colonization of the subcontinent. However the situation now is quite different. Just see the threat looming large on our Western borders, including Baluchistan and FATA. If the terrorists and separatists are operating under the umbrella of a super power then it is beyond the capacity of Pakistan alone to counter it. And mind it, if Pakistan becomes victim of this aggression then it will not remain confined to Pakistan, India will also become target of this global plan. So it is very essential that we should involve China in this scenario. However I agree that it should be done intelligently.

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