An image showing an identity card of Pakistan of a Chinese national has sparked a controversy in the Islamist nation, with some drawing connections of the development to a potential Chinese invasion while others linked it to the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The issue of the identity card, otherwise limited to Pakistani nationals, to a Chinese national, has kicked up quite a discussion on social media with Pakistanis questioning the move morally as well. Some said that Pakistan being a Muslim nation was yet to issue identity cards to Afghan refugees and doing so for a Chinese national made their intentions suspect and morally wrong.
If this is true. The after effects of CPEC pic.twitter.com/YB24WNzlKs— Tariq Afghan (@afghan_tariq) November 1, 2017
The reactions seen on social media by Pakistanis in many ways image the apprehensions many in the country hold over the $60 billion CPEC, a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet Belt and Road initiative.
The CPEC, connecting Pakistan's deep-water port Gwadar and China's Xinjiang, has been presented as a lifeline for Pakistan’s ailing economy, with the 3,000-km project promising to create jobs and vital infrastructure as well as boost local industry.
Still, Pakistanis are divided over its benefits to the country, with several economists pointing out to the fact that it was China that stood to benefit instead. Most of the inputs required for construction are sourced from China and there is little Pakistani industry has gained from this massive infrastructure push, they said, adding that the repayment of the huge debt that Pakistan will owe to China makes things even more worrisome.
Meanwhile, with reactions continuing to pour in on social media, the government was forced to stand up and take note.
In a statement issued on Twitter, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal justified the issue of the national identity card to the Chinese national, clarifying that both parents of Feng Lin Cui, the Chinese man, had naturalised as Pakistani citizens way back in 1989. The act of gaining Pakistani nationality occurred decades before the CPEC and its inception, he said.
His parents were naturalised as Pakistani citizens in 1989, decades before CPEC was born.— Ahsan Iqbal (@betterpakistan) November 1, 2017
“His parents were naturalised as Pakistani citizens in 1989, decades before CPEC was born,” the minister said on Twitter.
Some sections of the Pakistani media, however, questioned the minister’s explanation, pointing out that the ID card of 45-year-old Cui was issued on April 24, 2017. Moreover, the column of country of stay on his ID card clearly says ‘China, Mainland’.