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Pakistan and China Jointly Open New International Trade Route through Southwestern Pakistani Port of Gwadar

The trade convoy passed 3,000 kilometers along the Karakoram Highway through western Pakistan after entering at the Khunjerab Pass, the world's highest paved border crossing

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Pakistan China: Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, center left, and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, fourth right, pray after inaugurating a new international trade route during a ceremony at Gwadar port, about 435 miles, 700 km, west of Karachi. Pa, VOA
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Pakistan and China this week activated a new international trade route through the southwestern Pakistani port of Gwadar to showcase a multi-billion-dollar economic cooperation agreement between the two close allies.

Beijing’s $46 billion investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will lead to construction of road, rail and communication networks and power projects in Pakistan along the route linking China’s western Xinjiang region to Gwadar.

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Chinese officials say CPEC is “the major and pilot project of the Belt and Road” initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping.

It will ultimately turn the deep water Gwadar port, developed with Chinese financial and technical assistance, into a gateway for imports and exports from Xinjiang to international markets.

The port sits at the convergence of three of the world’s most commercially important regions, the oil-rich Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. It also lies at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Strait of Hormuz.

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Pakistani and Chinese officials gathered Sunday at the port to welcome the first convoy of trucks from China. Containers were loaded on two Chinese ships before they sailed to overseas destinations from Gwadar.

The trade convoy passed 3,000 kilometers along the Karakoram Highway through western Pakistan after entering at the Khunjerab Pass, the world’s highest paved border crossing.

“It proves the connectivity of the local roads and realization of the concept of one corridor with multiple passages,” noted Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weeding in Gwadar.

“This trade convoy is the best reflection of the spirits of mutual consultation, joint construction, mutual benefits and win-win cooperation. I believe these spirits will serve as the solid basis for the future construction of CPEC,” said the Chinese diplomat.

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Pakistani leaders hope the economic corridor will bring development and prosperity to billions of people in the region.

“Pakistan is located at the intersection of three engines of growth in Asia – South Asia, China and Central Asia. CPEC will help in integrating these regions into an economic zone offering great opportunities for people of the region as well as investors from all over the world,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told Sunday’s ceremony at Gwadar.

A Pakistan Navy soldier stands guard while a loaded Chinese ship prepares to depart, at Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. VOA
A Pakistan Navy soldier stands guard while a loaded Chinese ship prepares to depart, at Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. VOA

For China, the proposed CPEC route will offer the shortest possible access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Chinese ships currently travel through the Strait of Malacca and it takes about half a month to transport goods to or from China.

The Pakistani government is under fire at home for allegedly maintaining secrecy around CPEC-related projects and diverting much of the Chinese investment to the populous province of Punjab, a traditional stronghold of Sharif’s ruling party.

The prime minister and his spokespeople have repeatedly denied the allegations.

“CPEC is for entire Pakistan and no province and region will be left out of it. The whole nation is united and determined to make CPEC a model of success and a flagship project of Pakistan and China friendship to take our friendship to greater heights,” said Sharif, while speaking in Gwadar.

Despite security and political concerns, Chinese and Pakistani officials say that CPEC-related projects have entered into full implementation and are making “remarkable progress.”

They say 16 out of 24 “early harvest projects” are under construction and expected to be completed by 2018, creating tens of thousands of new jobs for local people.

Pakistani critics, however, point to a lack of structural reforms, corruption and mismanagement in government institutions for their skepticism about CPEC.

They insist that existing infrastructure needs a major overhaul to be able to absorb pressure that CPEC-related activities will generate in the coming years.

Economist Athar Maqsood Ahmad at Islamabad’s National University of Sciences and Technology, known as NUST, says signs of improvement already exist in Pakistan, even without CPEC.

“The expected (official) growth rate with the help of CPEC is not much higher than what we have achieved on our own in the past,” he noted.

The professor said much of the public debate is based on assumptions. He said it is not possible to examine the cumulative dividends of CPEC to Pakistan because documents at relevant Chinese and Pakistani ministries do not provide the same information. (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google to charge $40 per device to Android makers. Wikimedia Commons

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?