General Zubair Mehmud Hayat, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC), blames the Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) for sabotaging the multi-billion dollar CPEC, but is there anything really to his claims about India sabotaging CPEC? The issue is up for debate.

India Sabotaging CPEC
By Government of Pakistan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a huge infrastructure project aimed at connecting China to Pakistan and its ports Gwadar and Karachi in order to promote trade in the region. The deal, now worth over $62 billion, has drawn many investors from the region and has the potential to drastically change the political and economic situation not only in Pakistan but in the entire region.

While addressing a conference on regional dynamics and strategic concerns in South Asia organized by Islamabad Policy Research Institute, General Hayat said, “India is stoking chaos and anarchy in the region. RAW has established a special cell at a cost of $500 million to sabotage the CPEC.”

He claimed that India was using the Taliban, Baloch separatists and RAW to spread terrorism to Pakistan. An increase in terrorist activity could affect the funding CPEC gets and slow down its development.

The general also warned the conference attendees that India’s recent moves could result in war “at any time.” Speaking about the ongoing human rights issues in Kashmir, he said that India’s recent extremist policies are to blame for the military violence in the disputed province.

Claiming that India has violated the ceasefire agreement more than 1,200 times this year, General Hayat assured the public that Pakistan will continue to maintain minimum nuclear deterrenceGen. Hayat also said that the India has established a special cell within its Intelligence agency: a $500 million project initiated with the aim of sabotaging CPEC.

Is this true?

According to the Global Terrorism Report released earlier this week, terrorist activity in Pakistan is on the decline. Islamabad recorded a significant decrease in the number of people killed by terrorism with a 12% reduction. The report states that the 956 deaths this year has been the lowest number recorded since 2006. And while the claim that India’s intelligence is causing an increase in terrorist activity currently does not hold water, recent turmoil in Islamabad could be a result of Indian meddling.

The protest currently taking place at Faizabad Interchange in Islamabad and the tensions that have arisen from India’s unannounced nuclear missile test certainly don’t do any favors to an already unstable Pakistan.

With the Islamabad High Court (IHC) battling the growing number of protesters, and the government dealing with the political repercussions of the change in the law they described as “clerical error,” proving Gen. Hayat’s claim might not be the top priority for the increasingly unsettled country.

Could nuclear conflict arise from India sabotaging CPEC?

India and Pakistan have, according to Sameer Lalwani, an expert on the region with the Stimson Center, an adversarial relationship that has the potential to escalate into a full-blown nuclear war. He traces the problem all the way back to the end of World War II, when the British Raj hastily split in two, resulting in three major wars and ceaseless fighting across the border. Having two large nuclear powers consistently engaged in armed conflict is a touchy situation which has the potential to escalate into a devastating war.

With Pakistan being the more vocal advocate for conflict resolution and India mostly remaining silent on the issue, a full-fledged peace resolution doesn’t seem that viable in the near future. However, what both of these countries can count on is the resistance the international community will give to a nuclear war. Investors from more than 50 countries have stakes in CPEC, and it’s clear that its economic benefits have the potential to surpass the political crisis that stems from the Kashmir issue.

Can the situation be resolved?

According to The Hindu, the daily newspaper based in Chennai, Pakistan has offered to resume dialogue with India on Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek and other irresolute issues and is waiting for an official response. This comes at a time when the Trump administration wants to defuse tensions between the two nuclear powers and re-engage them in conversation about their territorial and political disputes.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said on Thursday that Islamabad is “committed to its policy of peaceful neighborhood,” but added that their armed forces are fully prepared and competent to defend the country in case an armed conflict ensues.

Stating that India’s surgical strikes and unprecedented escalation on Line of Control and Working Boundary are direct threats to peace, Faisal added that Pakistan is ready and willing to engage in conversation that will lower the tensions and potentially resolve the 70-year old animosity between the countries.

We have yet to see how the U.S., which is an ally both to India and Pakistan, will react to this new turn of events. In light of the recent political unrest in Lebanon and the uncertainty Israel and Saudi Arabia face with Iran, the India-Pakistan dispute has the potential to be the fuse that ignites the entire Middle East.