Leveling a rare but blunt direct charge against Washington, Pakistan has accused the United States of colluding with its longtime rival India to sabotage the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project
Leveling a rare but blunt direct charge against Washington, Pakistan has accused the United States of colluding with its longtime rival India to sabotage the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. The charge came from Special Assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs, Khalid Mansoor at a seminar organized by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi.
Washington has long opposed the USD 64 billion project, calling it a "debt trap" for Pakistan, but this is the first time Islamabad has reacted this bluntly. New Delhi has also opposed the project, which is part of Beijing's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), viewing it as against its strategic interests in the region.
"From the point of view of the emerging geostrategic 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,” Mansoor said.
"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,” he said, adding that attempts to dilute Beijing's strategic influence in the region will not succeed.
The West, he went on to say, views CPEC as a symbol of China’s political ambition. “That’s the reason CPEC is seen suspiciously by both the United States and Europe… They view CPEC more as a move by China to expand its political, strategic, and business influence,” Mansoor added, according to The Express Tribune.
Islamabad, he said, has discussed the possibility of Afghanistan's inclusion in the CPEC with the Taliban government, but gave no further details, including Kabul's response.
Signed in 2015, the CPEC aims to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.
The CPEC was launched with an initial investment portfolio of about USD 46 billion, which was subsequently increased to USD 60 billion.
The share of projects that are in the pipeline is USD 28 billion, according to the CPEC Authority presentation to the cabinet body in January this year.
So far, 17 projects worth USD 13 billion have been completed while another 21 projects having an estimated cost of USD 12 billion are being implemented.