Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, April 24, 2015



This week's blog comes to us fron high in the Hindu Kush Mountains. Specifically, the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The occasion? An official state visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping. While such meetings happen every day... THIS ONE was extra special. Fighter planes blazed through the sky, camels were decorated with extra tassels and every lamppost from the airport to the palace had Xi's smiling face attached to them. Yep.. This was no ordinary state visit.

Why all the pomp and circumstance? Well, you would be excited too.. If you were getting $46 billion dollars! Yep, China is pouring cash into neighboring Pakistan. Here's the agreement: The funds will go into specific projects designed to improve the country's crumbling infrastructure. For example, the Indus Highway (the main North / South artery) will be overhauled into a modern Interstate freeway. Other items include upgrading train lines, oil pipelines, electricity and even a Lahore subway!

Our readers are pondering: Has the People's Republic gone mad? What's in it for them? True, it is more than just a nice gesture. At the heart of the deal is the 100 mile international border between the two Asian giants. Here's you'll find fabled Kashmir (the region, not the Led Zeppelin song) and some of the highest mountain passes in the world. At a staggering 15,397 feet, the Khunjerab Pass connects Pakistan and China. Soon, a four-lane highway, high speed railways and oil and gas pipelines will be build, thus connecting Beijing to the Arabian Sea overland!

Whoops! We got ahead of ourselves. Today, the man-of-the-hour is definitely Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Basically, he raised $46 billion to rebuild the infrastructure of his population-challenged nation without raising taxes. However.. It does come with a catch. Although Chinese capital and corporations will fund and oversee matters, Pakistan still needs to provide manual labor and insure political stability in historically hostile areas. In addition to Kashmir, an insurgency in Baluchistan promises to disrupt construction.

For the time being,We here at the DUNER BLOG celebrate Pakistan and their new-found fortune. We are not alone. Even arch-rival India thinks a poor Pakistan is a bad idea. Insurgency breeds in the slums. The US has also supported the measure. After all, it is an aid program and not a military one. As usual, Chinese interests are centered on commerce. Finally, it is ironic that the Silk Road is back in the news. Marco Polo would be so proud..

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