Pakistan-China $18 billion trade corridorThe internal security of Pakistan, and Islamabad’s relations with the neighboring Afghanistan and India plays a key role in the proposed USD 18-billion China-Pakistan economic corridor, according to a think-tank.

Director of the Institute of Security and Arms Control Studies, Li Wei said, the 2,000-km corridor connecting China’s Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Gwadar port involves railways, highways and oil and gas pipelines.

Li Wei quoted by PTI News said, “Generally speaking, the security situation in Pakistan is very important for Pakistan for the establishment of the corridor and also the security situation in the neighbouring countries and Pakistan’s relations with the neighbouring countries.”

Mr. Li further added, “The establishment of the corridor will come a long way in boosting the economic and security environment in this region. There are three important countries in this region, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. So this economic corridor will exhert very positive impact in boosting trade ties among the these three countries.”

The comments by Li Wei comes amid recent reports which suggested India’s concerns relating to the project as it runs through the disputed Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK).

However, Li said, “Geographically speaking the corridor runs through the Pakistan controlled Kashmir region, tribal regions of north western parts of Pakistan though to Gwadar port”.

His reference to “Pakistan controlled Kashmir” is significant as all Chinese officials as well as state media routinely skip referring the PoK which connects both the countries. Much of the 2,000-km long planned economic corridor runs through PoK.

He said, “there must be security guarantee for the establishment of this corridor”, consideringthe significance of security ofthe project given the volatile situation prevailing in Pakistan which witnessed a spate of violent attacks.

“I believe the precondition of the establishment of the corridor is improved, effectively improved security situation in this region so that the corridor can be established,” Li said.

He also added, “So I believe we must attach great importance to security environment and huge efforts must be made by various parties so that we can finish this very huge project.”

According to reports, Pakistan’s newly elected prime minister Nawaz Sharif signed the corridor agreement durng chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Pakistan.