Beijing has been quietly holding talks with Baloch nationalists for more than five years in an effort to safeguard its investment in infrastructure projects being taken up as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Financial Times reports.
According to the report, China has been in direct contact with groups in Baluchistan fighting Pakistan’s occupying forces. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, had recently said that militant groups in Balochistan are no longer a threat to CPEC.
“The Chinese have quietly made a lot of progress. Even though separatists occasionally try to carry out the odd attack, they are not making a forceful push,” the report quotes a Pakistani official as saying.
Interestingly, the report hints that Pakistani officials do not know “the details of what has been discussed” between the two parties.
“Pakistani officials, however, have welcomed the talks, even if they do not know the details of what has been discussed,” the report reads.
“Ultimately, if there’s peace in Balochistan, that will benefit both of us,” the daily quoted an official in Islamabad as saying.
The Financial Times report has sparked a controversy in Pakistan. Islamabad has not dismissed the report, but officials have claimed that Beijing has not bypassed Pakistan to hold talks with the Baloch leaders.
Pakistan has been battling an insurgency in mineral-rich Balochistan since 2004. A number of Chinese citizens, working on infrastructure projects in Pakistan, have been attacked and killed by insurgent groups.
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