On June 10, China offered to renew $2.3 billion at a deeply discounted interest rate.
Publications such as ‘Pakistan Daily’ and ‘The News International’ have leaked communications between Pakistan’s Beijing-based ambassador and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reporting that the Chinese leadership has expressed a desire to cooperate more comfortably with the new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif because of his past experience with him when he was the prime minister of the Punjab province, The Singapore Post reported.
But it is not just a one-sided aversion, Imran Khan was also found by the Chinese leaders as an outsider in his position as head of government. Because Imran Khan as Prime Minister got in the way of China’s goal behind the CPEC project and its implementation.
Notably, in 2015, when Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the CPEC was officially launched.
According to the publication, Khan was not happy with the China-led project from the start. The lack of transparency and the possibility of corruption that China could perpetuate through their CPEC projects would harm Pakistan and its interests was Imran Khan’s main concern.
And this fear was expressed in categorical terms by Imran Khan’s former adviser on trade, textiles, industry and manufacturing and investment Abdul Razak Dawood in an interview with the London-based Financial Times on September 9, 2018.
Abdul Razak Dawood, the adviser to the then Prime Minister of Pakistan during his interview with the Financial Times more than three years ago.
“Chinese companies have been given tax breaks, a lot of rebates and an undue advantage in Pakistan; this is one of the things we are looking at because it is not fair that Pakistani companies are being disadvantaged,” added Dawood.
He went on to say that the Pakistani government under Imran Khan would review or renegotiate the agreements reached under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
However, after Dawood’s interview went viral, he provided a clarification on September 10, 2018, emphasizing that Pakistan’s commitment to the CPEC would not change. While this was a major turnaround on the part of Imran Khan’s adviser, the broad outline of Imran Khan’s government approach to the CPEC remained unchanged, the publication said.
The CPEC authority said in a report published after Imran Khan stepped down as prime minister on April 11 that Pakistan could only complete three projects in Gwadar, while a dozen projects costing nearly $2 billion remain unfinished. Interestingly, the CPEC authority was established in 2019 by a regulation by the then Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government, to show China that Pakistan would accelerate the pace of CPEC-related activities.
The Chinese authorities have not only welcomed the delay in completing CPEC projects, but also expressed frustration at Pakistan’s failure to stop attacks on Beijing nationals working in the South Asian country.
On July 14, 2021, 13 people, including 9 Chinese engineers, were killed in an explosion on a bus while traveling in Pakistan’s western Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Even when the dust failed to settle on this massive explosion, Pakistan was rocked by an attack on Chinese citizens and interests. On August 20, 2021, a suicide bomber in Gwadar killed at least two children and injured a Chinese.