June 12, 2013
Murder of a Kashmiri politician sheds light on China’s expansionism
Demonstrators on Front St. in Toronto protest the May 14 assassination of the outspoken Arif Shahid,
chair of the Jammu-Kashmir National Liberation Conference, in Rawalpindi.
An alarming development is unfolding in a far off corner of the world that will have far reaching geo-political consequences for the West.
But other than a handful of protesters in Washington DC, London and Toronto, few in the West have either noticed or grasped the significance of an assassination and an announcement.
Last week, the newly-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif revealed, even before he had taken oath of office, he had met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and given Beijing the green light to build a $10-billion, 2,000 km railway link between China’s troubled Xinxiang region the Balochistan port of Gwadar, a city that sits at the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz on the Persian Gulf.
According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune, the implementation of this rail network “will help China secure oil supply and commercial routes on the Indian Ocean, furthering its plans to secure yet another strategic energy and trade corridor.”
China’s plans to use Pakistan as a client state to reach the Persian Gulf is part of Beijing’s “Strings of Pearl” strategic initiative to build naval bases in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Maldives. The objective is to surround India in a vice grip with the People’s Liberation Army on India’s northern borders and Chinese naval muscle in the south, threatening India along its entire Indian Ocean coastline.
Already, Pakistan has surrendered its sovereignty and handed over the city of Gwadar to China, an act straight out of 18th century colonialism.
It is not just the Straits of Hormuz and the Indian Ocean that China wishes to dominate, it is also eyeing Gilgit-Baltistan that Pakistan sliced off from Kashmir. According to the Urdu language newspaper Roznama Bang-e-Sahar, Pakistan is considering leasing the entire area to Beijing for 50 years.
In fact, thousands of Chinese troops and workers are already inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir leading to outrage among the local population who see the Chinese as uninvited outsiders taking over their land, their jobs and plundering its resources.
Hitherto, Kashmiris inside Pakistan have been docile onlookers as Islamabad-appointed bureaucrats have used them as puppets in the never-ending Kashmir conflict with India. However, now it appears Kashmiris in Pakistan are refusing to be mere pawns. They are speaking out against Islamabad selling their land and resources to Chinese state run corporations and the military.
And while the West seems asleep, the first casualty of this new Sino-Pak aggressive strategic partnership has taken place.
On May 14, Arif Shahid, chair of the Jammu-Kashmir National Liberation Conference (JKNLC) was shot dead by two men in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi. Shahid was a unique leader in that he demanded independence for Kashmir as against joining Pakistan. He was vocal against Pakistan’s use of the territory to smuggle jihadi terrorists inside India and he was almost alone in warning against the presence of Chinese troops and workers in Kashmir.
For daring to differ with the dictates of Pakistan’s deep state, the man lost his life. Protests broke out across Kashmir with fingers pointed at Pakistan’s notorious military intelligence agency ISI as the killers.
At a demonstration in Toronto, Mumtaz Khan, chair of the Kashmiri Canadian Congress said: “Arif Shahid was killed by Pakistan because he was against China’s military presence in Pakistani-occupied Kashmir. He was opposed to the territory being used by the Islamabad to smuggle jihadi terrorists inside India.”
Will the U.S. take a serious look at the new Sino-Pak strategy for what it is? North Korea and Iran may be the dogs that bark — China and Pakistan are the one’s that’ll bite.