On the day the supreme body of the Communist Party of China met for its 19th Congress in Beijing, the Baloch leadership in exile issued a strong warning to China to stop the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) or face on the ground consequences.
The CPEC passes across disputed territory and is rejected by the Baloch as a "tool for exploiting the Baloch land."
Baloch and other oppressed people, including Sindhis, have reacted strongly after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the One Belt One Road project goes through disputed territory.
Abdul Nawaz Bugti, senior Baloch human rights activist and representative of Baloch Republican Party at the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a statement aimed at China, saying "The statement of Secretary Mattis vindicates our stance on the so-called China Pakistan Economic Corridor that it is not only a illegal project because of the fact that it passes through and exploits PoK (Pakistan occupied Kashmir) and Balochistan, but also because it has resulted in massive human rights abuses in these territories. We call upon China to stop the CPEC immediately."
Calling upon China to honour international norms on disputed territory Abdul Nawaz Bugti said Beijing must realise the mistake it is making as further work on the CPEC will lead to a stronger Baloch rebellion.
Then, addressing the U.S. Bugti said "Being a super power and the most influential player in the region, it is the responsibility of the United States to play its due role to stop the massive injustices committed by China and Pakistan against indigenous people, in this case the CPEC."
Bugti's concern over growing injustice in Balochistan is being supported by Prof. Naela Quadri Baloch, President of Canada-based World Baloch Women's Forum.
She said, "We are glad that US Defense Secretary recognizes that CPEC passes through disputed territory. We expect that US will also recognize that major part of CPEC is in an occupied territory called Balochistan that is bleeding and burning."
"We do not need occupier's mega projects. We deserve a dignified life as a nation, our identity our own democratic and pluralistic way of life. We expect from the US to support Baloch for peace and justice in the region," Professor Naela added.
The multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project also affects other parts of Pakistan including Sindh, where people are demanding intervention of international community to stop the CPEC's construction.
Lakhu Luhana, Secretary General of World Sindhi Congress said, "We believe the statement of the US Defence Secretary Mr James Mattis is timely, just and in accordance with the international law. The people of Gilgit and Baltistan are already suffering colonial exploitation and occupation by Pakistan. CPEC which is illegal according to international law would result in complete elimination of people of Gilgit and Baltistan. Moreover, it is a project that will completely destabilise peace in the region for decades to come in addition to complete marginalisation of Sindhi and Baloch nations."
"We hope that the US will proactively enhance its role to stop this catastrophe from continuing and we hope that the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China realises that it is time to stop this illegal road from being built on Kashmiri and Baloch land," said Mr.Luhana, head of the World Sindhi Congress.