Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s concerted efforts to push ahead with the multibillion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is meeting with opposition from an unexpected quarter. This is a setback he can ill-afford since Chinese leadership did some plain speaking with the chief ministers of the four provinces and made them fall inline.
Reports in a section of the media say that Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), a Sindh-based nationalist party, is vehemently opposing the CEPC which passes through the province before terminating at Gwadar in Balochistan. The party staged a massive protest rally in Karachi on 17 Jan – the day that marks the 113th birthday of G M Sayed, the founder of the Sindhi nationalist movement, Jeay Sindh.
“No China Go China” was key plank of the protest with the JSMM chief, Shafi Burfat declaring that the CPEC would be the death warrant for the cultural, economic, geographic existence of Sindhis and Balochis. He dubbed the Corridor project as a “Punjabi conspiracy” to strengthen its “imperialist expansionist hegemony” over Sindh and Balochistan. He termed the CPEC as a “trigger of international conflicts and nuclear arms race in the region and strategic military design of Chinese aggression over the Indian Ocean”.
Burfat has announced a Sindh province -wide strike on February 20th to protest against CPEC and to “send a clear message to the civilised international community and Chinese imperialists that Sindh will never accept CPEC and slavery of Punjab”.
People taking part in the Karachi rally carried anti-CPEC and anti-sectarian placards and banners. They also raised slogans against human rights violations and brutalities by the security forces. The protests voiced concern over the phenomenon of ‘enforced disappearances’. Veteran JSMM leader Ustad Muhammad Rahimon is among those ‘disappeared’.
JSMM Chairman has appealed to the international community and United Nations to take “an immediate notice of Pakistani state’s brutality and inhumanity against the Sindhi and Baloch political activists”.
It is too early say about the impact of the JSMM protests though media reports say scores of anti-China protests are being held across the Sindh.