China in Baluchistan is bad news for regional players: newspaper

Pakistan's main business newspaper "Business Recorder" published from Karachi and Islamabad observed Monday that Chinese "quasi ownership" of Gwadar Port on Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast could become a "game changer" of the existing situation in the region.

In a news analysis carried as its lead story titled "China in Baluchistan," the newspaper said it would throw a challenge, in the midterm to all Iranian ports in the Persian Gulf from Chah Bahar to Bandar Abbas and from Bushahar to Khuramshahar, as well as United Arab Emirates' Dubai Port.

The analysis by the news editor Sarfraz Ahmad, who is also a member of the American Economic Association, believes that the Chinese presence in Baluchistan Province is profoundly bad news for Baluch insurgents demanding an independent Baluchistan and for outside powers that feel threatened by full operations of Gwadar Port.

It said the possible construction of railways and highways between Gwadar and Khunjrab Pass and Karachi are developments that indicated "an advancement of Beijing's geo-strategic interests in South Asia."

"There is little doubt that Baluchistan areas undergoing massive development will soon be witnessing road signs in addition to English and Urdu languages in the Chinese language" as has already happened in Central Asian countries where China has been carrying out massive development work.

In his address to the national assembly after election as prime minister last Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif praised the outgoing government's decision to hand Gwadar Port to Chinese control.

He revealed that during a meeting with him in Islamabad in May, visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had expressed his readiness to lay railway tracks and construct highways between the two countries, "without any loss of time."