CPEC Spurs Development


A Pak-China Novelty


Pakistan-China relationship is unique. It has grown and flourished naturally, without confusion and mistrust, over many decades. It is the responsibility of the new generation and leadership to preserve this valuable relationship. Both countries have a glorious history of beneficial cooperation.

They have developed unique projects in defence and infrastructure such as the Karakorum Highway (KKH) in the 1960s, Taxila Heavy Complex in the 1970s, nuclear energy cooperation in the 1980s, JF-17 Thunder in the 1990s, and now they have been kicking-off the 2,600 km long Gwadar-Kashgar Economic Corridor, which will be a miracle of the 21st Century.

China became the world’s largest economy last year by surpassing the United States. It still has to take father strides. China is the pride of Asia. Pakistan is lucky to have it on its northern border as Beijing wants to maximise economic benefits for Pakistan by building gigantic physical infrastructure that includes not simply roads and railways tracks, but also energy projects and industries along these routes and in many other areas neglected so for.

The amount of capital that would be invested and utilised for these mega projects would be enormous. Economic benefits across the cross section of the population would be huge to attain full development. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be an economic changer for the life and fate of the people of Pakistan living in all four provinces, Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan. Millions of people would be directly employed under these projects and many more would be indirectly employed and benefited.

People, political parties, business groups, and social organisations must now realise the accurate aspects of this project, rather than be misguided by the foes of Pakistan-China relationship. Political parties and organisations need to educate masses about this project. They should themselves counter any negative propaganda. Misperceptions must be removed.

Furthermore, considering the level of under-development in Pakistan, spanning decades, we cannot afford to miss the golden opportunity offered by China. The debate on the route alignment should focus on how Pakistan gets maximum benefits out of this project instead of fanning provincial and inter-provincial disharmony, which is fatal in the final analysis.

Additionally, under CPEC the federation of Pakistan would be physically and industrially strengthened. Against this context, CPEC looks closer to the grand vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who wanted to see a united and economically strong Pakistan. Let us pay tributes to the Chinese leadership, which has been rendering all kinds of assistance to convert Pakistan into Quaid’s vision of a prosperous nation.

Moreover, the project is not simply a road link but it would bring an ‘industrial revolution’ in Pakistan with Chinese financial and technical support as the project is comprehensive in nature involving the whole spectrum of modern development. So far China has pledged $45 billion to undertake many of these projects. It is a step-by-step approach within the strategy of the Early Harvest Program (EHP).

Japan has already been helping India build the 1483 km Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) worth $100 billion. The corridor would be the largest industrial project undertaken in India since independence. The corridor would spur development across six states.

Unlike the DMIC, the CPEC is a trans-national project. It would connect south of Pakistan to the extreme north with western province of China, Xinjiang. The connectivity would link both Pakistan and China with Central Asia along the Grand Silk Route that would be modernised by China with the support of six Central Asian Republics. It is also our long-cherished desire that the ancient Grand Silk Road should be revived. The Silk Route was used by caravans for trading between Europe, Middle East and China during ancient times.

Like the government of Pakistan, the Chinese government also reiterated that there would be no change in the route alignment. With these unequivocal assurances, the confusion should come to an end once for all, and it must pave the way for the up-coming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Economic route should not be politically motivated. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would receive massive benefits from the route alignment. No change was made in the original plan. In the first phase, Karachi-Peshawar would be connected through a motorway. Second, over 610 km area of the KPK would come under the CPEC route, taking a share of 23 percent as the total route would be around 2,660 km from Gwadar to Khunjerab.

The holding of the lawyers’ convention by the Peshawar Bar High Court Association (PHCBA) by mid March must focus on how neglected areas of the KPK should get tangible benefits out of the CPEC. Moreover, besides other sites, industrial zones would be built, inter alia, in Abbottabad and Havelian. So far as many as 30 projects have been identified under the CPEC and many more would come, covering the entire region of Pakistan.

According to Moody’s, a premier credit rating agency, CPEC would spur development and restore investor-confidence. It predicts that investment would boom under the CPEC. On the basis of CPEC, the country’s credit rating has been enhanced by Moody’s. It says that the project would be positive for Pakistan and benefits would start coming before 2017. China is now the largest trading and investment partner of Pakistan.

Political parties must be aware of the geo-strategic environment working against the Pakistan-China relationship since the time of the Cold War. The CPEC is a sensitive project and the future of Pakistan-China relations depends on it. Hopefully political parties, different organisations, and provinces would understand the beneficial nature of CPEC and act wisely by protecting the vital and the national interests of Pakistan.

Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ISS or of the Government of Pakistan.