Pakistan, the economic and military interests of China and Russia

Here, Pakistan has made headlines above all for the disastrous recent floods that caused thousands of deaths, destruction and enormous damage. And in recent days for the story of eighteen-year-old Saman, resident in Italy and killed for refusing an arranged marriage, for whose father the Islamabad court has not decided to grant expatriation to be tried in our country. But in this Southern Air State, the fifth most populated in the world with its 250 million inhabitants, it is the geopolitical situation and its international position that show a particularly interesting and worrying evolution. In fact, Russia and China, also taking advantage of the inattention of the United States, which has become forcibly more pronounced after the disengagement decided by Trump and Biden in neighboring Afghanistan, are intensifying economic and military collaboration. Moscow has agreed to supply oil, gas and wheat to Pakistan desperate to boost its energy and food supplies. Beijing for its part is investing in infrastructure in an attempt to gain privileged access to the Indian Ocean which is essential for the development especially of the western part of China. But it is mining that interests Xi Jimping in a particular way through the action of Chinese companies operating in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, in whose mines gold, copper, zinc and other sought-after minerals are extracted. These companies, in agreement with the Islamabad government and the army, which has always played a leading role in Pakistan, manage to get them directly to China through the port of Karachi. But the suspicion is that in addition to this there is also an interest from Beijing in the extraction of uranium, whose deposits are certainly present in the region. Two technically advanced processing plants have been identified with cooling systems, containment structures and turbines for the production of energy. The Chinese then proceeded to urbanize the area by building houses, apartments, warehouses, roads, while the Pakistani army defends the secrecy of the site. Beijing’s influence has also extended to the fishing sector in Gwadar, i.e. monopolizing all the natural resources of Balochistan. A further non-negligible aspect is that which concerns the economic treatment of local workers in the mines who, apart from the poor working conditions, are exploited with a salary much lower than the average. Finally, what is paradoxical is that while the government of Islamabad receives a rent and a share from the profits of the mines, the province of Balochistan, apart from Chinese investments aimed at optimizing exploitation, has not received any contribution to get out of the situation of extreme poverty in which it is found, also aggravated by atmospheric events. A state of affairs that adds to the fact that endemic diseases such as poliomyelitis are not treated effectively, as does the problem of children who lose their lives after the first few days of birth due to causes that would have been easily preventable. But China is concerned only with its own enrichment and considers Balochistan as the flagship of the corridor that connects it to Pakistan which is now fundamental to its expansion strategy.

Alexander Perelli

Pakistan, the economic and military interests of China and Russia – Forward