Buildings stand under construction at a development site, operated by China Overseas Ports Holding Co., near Gwadar Port in Gwadar, Balochistan, Pakistan | Photographer: Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg
Buildings stand under construction at a development site, operated by China Overseas Ports Holding Co in Gwadar,Pakistan | Asim Hafeez | Bloomberg
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New Delhi: The officiating US Ambassador in Pakistan Thursday visited Gwadar, a key port area in the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), in the first such visit to the port by a US official in 15 years.

US Chargé d’affaires Angela Aggeler said the visit serves as the latest example of US-Pakistan cooperation on shared interests.

“I would like to thank my Pakistani hosts and counterparts for hosting me at #Gwadar today. It is great to be back in Balochistan,” Aggeler said in a statement tweeted by the US Embassy Islamabad.

“I am hopeful it is the first of many to encourage and strengthen commercial and economic ties between Balochistan and the US,” Aggeler said. “I am proud of US and Pakistani efforts to promote maritime security through naval exercises and professional exchanges, and I look forward to expanding our cooperation across sectors.”

The move came around two years after the US warned Pakistan that the CPEC, under which the Gwadar port is being developed, would push the country deeper into an already-stifling debt burden, foster corruption and repatriate jobs and profits to China.

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Growing differences

Sources in the Indian defence and security establishment told ThePrint that contrary to popular opinion, not all is well between China and Pakistan.

According to them, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa realised in 2017 itself that the CPEC, under which Chinese are to invest over $60 billion in Pakistan, was a debt trap.

CPEC is the flagship programme under China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Contrary to claims in Pakistan, various projects have actually slowed down. Beijing has already held off on projects under the CPEC, including a $6.1 billion railway renovation plan, said sources.

Last year, China sought additional guarantees for funding Main Line 1, or ML-1, the largest BRI project in Pakistan. With 2,655km of track, the railway project connects Karachi to Peshawar. It also includes dualisation and upgrading of the existing railway track between the two cities.

Sources said the US has sought knowledge about Pakistan’s loan agreements with China for allowing any credit through the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

On Tuesday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said his government would consult the IMF in order to disburse a second package of incentives as the third wave of the coronavirus takes its toll on the vulnerable in the country.

Also read: ‘The Imran I knew…’: Ex-wife Jemima hits out at Pakistan PM over comments on rape


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