Ms. Barakova (Research Analyst EFSAS) speaks on CPEC at University of Westminster, London
Owing to her extensive and comprehensive research on the construction of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Ms. Yoana Barakova (Research Analyst EFSAS) was invited by the World Sindhi Congress to represent the European Foundation for South Asian Studies and express her views on the subject during their 30th Annual Conference on Sindh, which took place on the 27th October 2018 at the University of Westminster, London.
The Conference brought together policy analysts, researchers, academicians, human rights activists and decision makers from around the world, who thoroughly examined the ongoing human rights violations, environmental issues, socio-economic problems and cultural frictions in the region of Sindh in particular and in the State of Pakistan as a whole. Through panel discussions and presentations, the respected speakers highlighted the latest developments in the research field related to the province and discussed the necessary safeguarding measures and strategies, which need to be implemented in order to address the aforementioned issues. In addition to that, during the Conference, Sindhi human rights activists raised their voices against enforced disappearances, abduction and killings of Sindhi individuals by the Pakistani State, and further opposed the building of mega dams, which disturb the environmental equilibrium of the region and lead to the erosion of the Indus River delta, which consequently puts at stake the livelihood of the indigenous people, who are predominantly relying on agriculture and fishery for their day-to-day survival.
Ms. Barakova approached the topic on a grander scale, by examining the financial implications and legal issues regarding the building of the CPEC, in order to explain in socio-economic terms how the CPEC will influence the lives of the common people and the geo-political stability of the South Asian region. She stated that the 15-year megaproject illuminates how Pakistan voluntarily is becoming progressively subjugated by China and its terms and conditions. In addition, she argued that the Chinese master plan conceives a picture where the majority of Pakistani socio-economic sectors are deeply penetrated by Chinese companies and Chinese culture; thus, Islamabad puts itself at risk of facing its finances and societal structure experiencing a colossal wreck. She also highlighted the illegality of the project with regard to the region of Gilgit Baltistan, which is constitutionally not a part of Pakistan and remains an elemental part of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to Ms. Barakova, as long as Pakistan operates in the shadow of another East India Company and does not realize the importance of protecting its national interests, which in essence are the people of Pakistan, any attempts for national development will transform into national calamity.
Throughout the entire Conference, the audience actively participated by asking questions and sharing their views on the discussed topics. The event was concluded by the generation of a set of resolutions, which advocated the universal enjoyment of human rights and equal and fair treatment for all individuals, alongside with the promotion of environmental justice and sustainable development in the region of Sindh and the State of Pakistan in general.