【Beijing】China has not asked for military access to Pakistan's Chinese-funded, deepwater port of Gwadar, a senior Pakistani rear admiral said on October 26, amid persistent speculation in India and the United States it could become a Chinese naval base.
Gwadar, in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, is the crown jewel of China's $60 billion investment in Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan.
Speaking at the Xiangshan Forum in Beijing, which China styles as its answer to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore, Rear Admiral Javaid Iqbal, Navy Secretary of the Pakistan Navy, said Gwadar is a "significant addition to the regional maritime landscape". "Let me emphasise that the Gwadar port is purely a commercial venture and has no military overtones," he told the forum. "Suitably located outside the potentially risky and confined waters of the Gulf, Gwadar has the potential to act not only as a transit port for China and Central Asia but also a trans shipment port impacting the prosperity of the entire region," Iqbal added. "The Pakistan navy will maintain a presence to ensure maritime security, to ensure the security of the port." "The geopolitical debate that somehow goes on in the media about Gwadar being used as a foreign military base is not correct at all." Asked whether China had specifically asked for military access, he answered: "No, not at all".
China opened its first overseas military base, which it formally calls a logistics facility, in the Horn of Africa country Djibouti last year.
Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled worries in India that it would become another of China's "string of pearls" of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
China has repeatedly downplayed expectations it could be about to embark on a plan to build military bases around the world, even as it ramps up an impressive military modernisation programme.
○Nawaz Sharif's PML-N improves showing in Pak by-polls
【Islamabad】Pakistan's deposed premier Nawaz Sharif's PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz) recovered some ground in the by-elections by eating up the votes of Prime Minister Imran Khan's PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf), winning four out of 11 parliamentary seats which went to the polls, according to the results on October 15.
Most of the seats which went to the polls were vacated by those candidates who had won on more than one seat during the July 25 general elections. Prime Minister Khan had won five seats and vacated four which were also up for grabs.
PTI lost its two seats vacated be Prime Minister Khan. His seat in Lahore was won by former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the PML-N and in Bannu by of Zahid Akram Durrani of the Muttahida Majlis Aml (MMA) party.
The outcome of the by-election will not impact the federal or provincial government but help reinvigorate the opposition parties. Polling for 11 National Assembly — the lower house of Parliament— and 24 provincial seats saw a tough competition between the ruling PTI led by Khan and the main opposition PML-N. The PML-N and the PTI won four seats each of the National Assembly whereas Pakistan Muslims League-Quadi (PML-Q) won two seats and MMA one seat, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said.
The PTI won 11 seats of the provincial assemblies while the PML-N won seven. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), led by former president Asif Ali Zardari, and Awami National Party won two each and independent candidates grab two seats. The PML-N won six out of 11 contested seats in Punjab while its arch-rival PTI won five. The PML-N also won a provincial assembly seat in Khyber-Pakhtukhwa, which is the stronghold of the PTI. The PML-N won several seats vacated by the PTI candidates during July 25 general elections including at least two seats of the National Assembly.
China did not ask for military access to Gwadar, says Pakistani admiral
Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N improves showing in Pak by-polls
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