…China’s Sinohydro Corp., is completing the biggest building project in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border, where the army is fighting Taliban militants. The U.S.-funded Gomal Zam dam is a key part of Pakistan’s effort to undermine the appeal of Islamic guerrillas in Waziristan, whose northern region U.S. military chief Admiral Mike Mullen calls the world’s “epicenter of terrorism….”
Construction began in 2002 and was delayed for three years after Taliban fighters kidnapped two Chinese engineers from the project in 2004. One died in a Pakistan army rescue operation.
The dam is 92 percent built, its project director, Colonel Muhammad Zaheer of the army’s Frontier Works Organization said in an interview at the construction site.
Its completion, plus the army’s construction of 220 kilometers (137 miles) of roads, will represent “the first time the government has actually implemented any of its many promises to bring development to South Waziristan,” said the FATA center’s Ali.
“That’s the hopeful part,” Ali said.
The project stands in apparent contrast with other prominent Chinese-built dams such as the Gibe 3 dam in Ethiopia. This reflects basic differences of policy within the industry in China, described by International Rivers’ Peter Bosshard: major firms such as Sinohydro seek acceptance as responsible global players, while some smaller companies are prepared to be more cut-throat in seizing controversial but lucrative foreign contracts.