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China furious with Imran Khan government over delay in CPEC projects

Gwadar Port is facing mass protests (Photo: Twitter/@shahsabg)

Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha

China is angry with the Imran khan government over the continuing delays in various projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China has been conveying its displeasure to the Pakistan government as well as the Pakistani military establishment for the last one year but it seems they have lost patience and asked the members of the Pakistani Senate Committee to put pressure on their government.

“According to my personal sources, the Chinese are not happy with the current progress of CPEC projects as they have approached me to help remove the bottlenecks,” said Saleem Mandviwala, Chairman of  Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives of Pakistan’s Parliament.

According to the Pakistani daily, The News, the Chinese approached Mandviwala to put pressure on the Imran Khan government. Mandviwala admitted that the government departments were very slow and they needed to be pushed to expedite the implementation process. He said the Chinese have lost trust in the government.

After getting an earful from the Chinese, Mandviwala summoned the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs Khalid Mansoor and directed him to take the responsibility of early completion of under-construction projects.

“My number one priority is to regain the Chinese confidence,” Khalid Mansoor assured the committee.

Interestingly, Prime Minister Imran Khan had removed  the CPEC chairman Lt Gen (Rtd) Asim Saleem Bajwa under Chinese pressure and appointed Khalid Mansoor on the recommendation of the Chinese authorities last month. Mansoor's vast corporate experience, with extensive work with Chinese companies and his direct involvement in leading some of the biggest CPEC projects made him an ideal person to lead the $ 60 billion CPEC projects.

Lt Gen (Rtd) Asim Bajwa has been caught in a controversy since last year when his alleged involvement in corruption made headlines.

As reported earlier by indianarrative.com, reports of Bajwa’s corruption alarmed the Chinese leadership, which sought Bajwa’s replacement in CPEC. In the last few months, in consultation with the Chinese Ambassador in Islamabad, five names were shortlisted including two retired army generals. But finally, the Chinese agreed on Khalid Mansoor, a corporate honcho who has experience working abroad, with Chinese companies and banks.

Also read: China forces Bajwa’s exit from CPEC, but will the corrupt Pak army retaliate?

“I will take responsibility for implementation of the projects and I will go personally to all the concerned ministries and divisions to implement the CPEC projects,” Mansoor has promised to the Chinese. He told them that he had personally met with representatives of 40 out of 135 Chinese companies working in Pakistan.

The Chinese are worried regarding the recent attacks on its nationals working on various projects under CPEC and it was conveyed to the Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa last month. Bajwa assured them that the Pakistani  army would protect CPEC projects as well as 131 other Chinese projects in the country, which do not directly fall under CPEC.

Violence targeting Chinese nationals has surged this year. Militants belonging to the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its allies have declared a war on the Pakistani army and Chinese funded CPEC. These militant outfits accuse China of exploiting Balochistan’s mineral resources, and have previously attacked Chinese nationals and the Chinese consulate in Karachi.

“It is very important to keep China on board because they are very sensitive.They say, “we have invested here but in return we don't want to get dead bodies. This is not done,” said Sheikh Rashid, Interior Minister of Pakistan.

Also Read: Pakistan admits China is furious with Islamabad on CPEC security