A political party, which is critical of financially dubious China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been banned by Pakistan government. Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz-Arisar (JSQM-A), a party based in the southern province of Sindh highlighted Pakistan’s the country’s reliance on Beijing for political and economic support.
Pakistan’s interior ministry outlawed the JSQM-A along with two militant groups in the same province — the Sindhudesh Liberation Army (SLA) and the Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA) — citing “reasonable grounds” that the organizations have ties to terrorism.
Pakistan has been regularly banning a variety of organizations, including al-Qaeda-linked jihadi militants as well as secessionist insurgent groups. The list however has expanded since the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship BRI project. These banned political parties include ethnic and sectarian groups from the southwestern province of Balochistan and the northern region of Gilgit Baltistan that pose threats to Chinese investment in the country. The number of outlawed groups has crossed 76- figure with the latest additions from Sindh.
All weather allies, Pakistan and China have a decadeslong history of close political and economic ties. Beijing continues to seek to strengthen its relations with Islamabad as those with India remain tense over a border dispute and New Delhi’s own ambitions for regional and global influence.
The recent bans are related to an ongoing campaign — both peaceful and violent — against the CPEC-linked projects in Sindh that began in 2011 when China announced plans to build a new industrial city called Zulfikarabad along the lines of the Chinese city of Shenzhen. During the same time, the province’s ethnic Sindhi groups, including the JSQM-A, launched a peaceful campaign against the projects, accusing China of attempting to become a new colonial power.
When the CPEC projects were set off in Sindh in 2015, the SLA and the SRA focused their attacks on Chinese individuals, mainly using roadside improvised explosive devices. No Chinese national was killed in attacks in the province so far.