• Tuesday 17th September 2019

BRI not a geo-political tool, debt trap theory rebuked, Iran and Pakistan inch closer

  • Published on: April 23, 2019

  • By NP Upadhyaya
    A week earlier on Monday Nepal’s northern neighbor China hinted rival India that “it won’t hold a grudge against Delhi if it skipped the second edition of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum, an event related to the multi-billion dollar connectivity project”.
    The BRI meet is being held mid this week in Beijing which is being attended by Nepal President Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari, the widow of the communist veteran Madan Bhandari who very mysteriously left this material world and the death still remains a mystery even when late Bhandari’s wife is now the President of the nation. As rumors have it, she is less interested in digging out the truth and the very cause and associated reason for her husband’s horrifying death.
    Mr. Bhandari and his vehicle were pushed down in the swelling Narayani River on the way to Chitwan district.
    What could have been the reasons for her inaction in this regard is not a matter of our professional interest but the millions of people in Nepal wish to know as to how and who killed this strong nationalist?
    And very interestingly, soon after Madan Bhandari’s death, King Birendra’s entire family too was butchered right inside the Royal palace.
    These atrocious deaths of two strong Nepali nationalists remains shrouded in a mystery that is in effect a secret of the highest order. However, the ruling government of the millionaire communists appear less concerned in finding as to who killed their own leader Mr. Bhandari? This is yet another enigma. The capitalist-communists are silent.
    Be that as it may, with China’s subtle warning to India which has rejected the Chinese invitation to attend to the second round of the Belt and Road Forum meet beginning April 25 this week, the Nepal born Indian foreign Secretary Bijaya Gokhaley rushed to Beijing, April 22, 2019, to assure China that India was not that far from China but for domestic consumption New Delhi has to hint its population that Delhi is an equal match to Beijing to which it is not.
    The word ‘grudge’ by China shook India from within, it could be presumed.
    Scared New Delhi has not forgotten the humiliating defeat of the 1962, it appears.
    Upon meeting the Indian man in Beijing, foreign minister Wang Yi told Indian Foreign secretary that “One of our differences is how to look at the BRI. The Indian side has their concerns. We understand that and that is why we have stated clearly on many occasions that the BRI including the CPEC is only an economic initiative and it does not target any third country and has nothing to do with the sovereign and territorial disputes left from history between any two countries,” foreign minister Wang said.
    Beijing also sounded Gokhley that even though some countries have wrongly judged the project, the growing support for the initiative from across the globe spoke volumes of the immense prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative — the signature project of President Xi Jinping.
    The satire was directed towards India for certain.
    Here in Kathmandu, visibly tilted media veterans warn Nepal not to get lured by the Chinese design as China’s structured debt trap shall follow sooner than later.
    Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Ms. Hou Yanqi, instantly rebuked the Western theory of the debt trap through an article in a Kathmandu daily wherein she very smartly said stressing that “I don’t think there is any debt trap problem. Some countries are using such a concept to drive a wedge between China’s cooperation with countries and regions along the BRI. And I believe that as time goes on, many countries will feel the sincerity from China and obtain the benefits from Chinese funds.
    Nepal’s Foreign minister also has dismissed the notion of debt trap by saying that “such suggestions were motivated by bias”. He said Nepal knows very well what to do what not to taking its prime national interests in to account, reports the Republica dated April 23, 2019.
    On Nepali President’s China visit, the Chinese envoy says in the same article that “The Belt and Road Initiative is not a debt trap (for Nepal) but an economic pie that benefits local population. It is not a ‘geo-political tool’ ‘but a great opportunity for shared development”.
    Reports claim that this time China is to award some big projects to Nepal as a gift under the BRI which shall be well documented in the BRI main Charter.
    Madan Regmi, an ailing Nepali scholar and the Chairman of the Nepal China Study Center says, “China is the only country in the world which is willing to invest one trillion US Dollar to share its prosperity all over the world by investing in the BRI member states. This he said on April 21, 2019.
    Mr. Regmi remains largely ignored by China though he remained a key figure in the enhancement of Nepal-China relations for decades and decades. Mr. Regmi needs a health check up at the earliest. Is mini Beijing in Kathmandu listening?
    This means that as a member country, Nepal shall also benefit from the declared Chinese investment in the BRI.
    Undoubtedly, Nepal needs support from China and expects that the debt trap theory doesn’t chase Nepal in any way in the future to which the Chinese envoy has so lucidly stated.
    China understands well that since Nepal can’t pay back the money thus there is no question to worry from the much publicized debt trap notion even if the theory remains in place as falsely being disseminated by the Indian media under the influence of the Western countries.
    For the moment, Nepal perhaps needs as much as connecting roads to Tibet under Chinese assistance as could be made possible because if Prime Minister Modi wins the ongoing elections, then Nepal is sure to feel the brunt of yet another economic blockade as we have had in the year 2015. A jubilant Modi — the Hindu terror machine may question as to why Nepal inched closer to Beijing humiliating Delhi.
    The chances remain high in that we have some political men who would rather encourage India to impose blockade on Nepal for having made intimate ties with India’s rival-China in the recent months.
    It is here that China and its Nepal based diplomats have failed to recognize its real friends and the worst enemies. Both pose to be good friends of the Chinese envoy which is unfortunate.
    China would do well, if it really wants to help assist Nepal to depend less on India then road connectivity is what would matter for Nepal to brave any likely challenges from the Indian terror machine.
    What about building some petro-storage tanks at various points that connects Nepal with the adjoining regions of Tibet? This shall do miracles.
    For the time being this could be the best help from China to Nepal if she supports Kathmandu in lessening the present over dependence on the Indian regime.
    Reports claim that President Bhandari will leave Kathmandu on 24 April and will hold bilateral meeting with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping apart from taking part in the BRI summit while in Beijing.
    “The two countries will sign on the protocol of transit treaty, signed between Nepal and China three years ago, during the meeting of two presidents,” Nepal’s foreign minister PK Gyawali said.
    In a nasty turn of events which shook the entire South Asian region is the recent nine bombings in series in Sri Lanka which targeted the Christian churches and hotels in three cities, international media agencies have reported.
    This ghastly incident has come well within a month or so when a similar shooting had rocked the Christchurch Noori mosque in New Zealand. Friday March 22, 2019.
    The shooting was engineered by an Australian national Brenton Tarrant (28) which had taken several lives of the people which comprised mostly the Muslims.
    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden in all her modesty exhibited her inner pains while making an official statement at the parliament. Her speech was appreciated the world over.
    The death toll in Colombo has risen to 300 plus people and wounded more than 500 others on Easter Sunday, according to Sri Lankan officials.
    Sri Lankan Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene described the coordinated blasts as a terrorist attack by some religious extremists.
    One spine chilling news has emanated from Colombo which states that the intelligence services in India and the US had told Sri Lanka in advance of the threat in early April, some officials in Colombo said.
    One of the warnings was so specific that it even gave a list of suspects. In the run up to the most holy day in the Christian calendar, the warnings seemed to increase in frequency and urgency.
    In Nepal though a section of observers claim that the Indian agency RAW may have expressed its ire against the Christians as India is now under the grip of the Hindu terror machine now led by BJP’s Prime Minister Modi. The BJP has some hatred against the Christians and Muslims.
    Indian Hindus differ from the Nepali Hindus.
    The Tamil Tigers led by Prabhakaran, to recall, enjoyed direct backing of the Indian government then prior to its extinction in the Island nation.
    Writes Adam Garrie for Eurasia /Future dated April 22, 2019, that “India has a long history of seeking to manipulate the power balance in Sri Lanka in order to turn the country into something of an Indian protectorate.
    These attempts have notably been resisted by most contemporary Sri Lankan leaders who seek an independent foreign policy that aims at securing win-win friendship not only with India but crucially, also with China and Pakistan.
    The Hambantota Port in which China has a greater say now has distanced Delhi with Colombo. Yet Delhi is trying to seduce Colombo.
    It would not be out of place to put on record that when the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena had told his ministers in a closed-door cabinet meeting in 10 October 2018 that the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s external intelligence agency, was planning to assassinate him, so had stated the The Hindu daily – an Indian paper last year.
    So how Colombo could summarily reject this probability that the RAW may have not engineered this bombing as well? However, diplomacy demands silence at least when it comes to criticize the regional goliath.
    RAW in collaboration with the Nepal Maoists based in Delhi killed some seventeen thousand innocent Nepali people during the so called people’s war. But the democratic world community ignored the wanton killings of Nepali population by the Maoists who were then residing in India. The Hague Tribunal is still silent. Why? However the fresh bombings in Colombo and Wellington have attracted so much attention of the world people and the champions who voice against terror and violence but why the same world community kept a stoic silence over the Killings in Nepal then by the Maoists? Was it not an act of terrorism?
    Nevertheless, the entire Nepali population is with the aggrieved people and the government of Sri Lanka. Our sympathy goes to the bereaved families.
    The Dawn editorial dated April 23 sums up the challenging task of terrorism in a brilliant manner by stating that “Challenging as it may be, all countries, regardless of their social, cultural and religious outlook, need to take firm, coordinated action against terrorism — especially at a time when hatred and extremism are outstripping all measures to maintain peace”.
    At another plane, as stated in our previous issue, the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is visiting China this week to meet its leaders and deliver a keynote speech at the vast Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.
    Notably, China has pledged about $60 billion in infrastructure loans for Pakistan, presumed as a success story of its Belt and Road initiative, which aims to build road and maritime trading routes across the globe.
    CPEC is a mega project that has brought China and Pakistan very closed much to the discomfort of India.
    But yet Pakistan’s economy needs a new bailout package with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to adjust its financial systems.
    To recall, the Saudi Arabia too has assisted Pakistan with some billions this February.
    PM Khan will visit China from April 25, and give a keynote speech at the three-day Belt and Road Forum that starts the following day.
    The high-profile gathering is one of China’s biggest annual state events, it is being talked by several international media agencies.
    China and Pakistan recently said that their ongoing multibillion-dollar infrastructure development cooperation program under Beijing’s global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has entered the next stage after achieving initial targets, dismissing reports the project increased Islamabad’s debt burden rather than boosting economic growth.
    As regards the debt trap rumor, Asad Umar, the former finance minister of Pakistan who was dropped from the Khan’s cabinet in the recent reshuffle in these days has said that “Why has it never been asked about which country has lent how much to Pakistan? Why it is suddenly, all this much interest and how much has come from China? Why the same question was not asked when lenders were Western Banks (in the past)?
    Thus Asad Umar puts to rest the debt trap theory in his own fashion. But will the Indian media keep a silence after this Umar statement?
    In the meanwhile, the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said at a meeting with the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his accompanying delegation in Tehran on Monday 22 April afternoon that “Good relations are in the interest of both countries, but this relationship has serious enemies and thus the friendly ties must be strengthened in different areas, against the enemies’ will,”
    Ayatollah Khamenei during the meet with PM Khan praised great Pakistani figures and urged the two nations to boost friendly ties, adding that “good relations will benefit both countries. However, these relations incite serious animosities from the enemies; however, the needed counter to enemies’ aspirations, the collaborations and relations of Iran and Pakistan (need to be) strengthened in different areas”, so writes the Iranian Meher news agency.
    Pakistan believes that the recent Bus Killings wherein at least 14 people have been shot dead by attackers after several buses were ambushed in the remote Ormara area of Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, news agencies have said.
    Iran borders this portion wherein the Bus massacre took place.
    Notably, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Qureshi suspects that the India funded terrorists may have killed those innocent Bus passengers.
    India has been eying Baluchistan since long and wants to create troubles for Pakistan by funding the separatists.
    Pakistan’s powerful military and the government led by Imran Khan say the armed groups are backed by India, the country’s eastern neighbor, with whom it has fought three wars.
    The Bus was bound from the port city of Gwadar to Karachi.
    By time this story gets published, Nepal President and PM Imran Khan shall be in Beijing lauding the Chinese President for his signature campaign of the Belt and Road Initiative. Wishing BRI and CPEC a grand success. A strong Pakistan is in the interest of the smaller countries of the South Asian region. That’s all.


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