Road to Pros­per­ity

Southasia - - COMMENT -

The China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor, in­au­gu­rated in Is­lam­abad in Au­gust, 2013, is a strate­gic co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship be­tween Pak­istan and China. Pak­istan needs it to over­come its eco­nomic and de­vel­op­ment im­per­a­tives and so­cial and en­ergy prob­lems while China needs the project to ex­pand its pe­riph­ery of in­flu­ence, con­sol­i­date its global pres­ence and se­cure its fu­ture sup­ply routes of en­ergy and trade. It can be said that it’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion for both coun­tries. At the mo­ment, CPEC is an un­der-con­struc­tion de­vel­op­ment pro­gram that would con­nect Gwadar Port in south­ern Pak­istan to China’s north­west­ern au­ton­o­mous re­gion of Xin­jiang via high­ways, rail­ways and pipe­lines. It is termed as a ‘game changer’ as it would usher in a new era of eco­nomic progress and pros­per­ity for both coun­tries. It has the po­ten­tial to turn Pak­istan into a hub of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and is of im­mense im­por­tance for the re­vival of its econ­omy, res­o­lu­tion of the en­ergy cri­sis and strength­en­ing the coun­try through de­vel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has said it will fi­nance Chi­nese com­pa­nies to build $46 bil­lion worth of en­ergy and in­fra­struc­ture projects in Pak­istan as part of CPEC which was con­ceived by the lead­er­ships of China and Pak­istan as a highly sig­nif­i­cant step. It is fast mov­ing for­ward, cre­at­ing im­mense trade and com­merce op­por­tu­ni­ties for the whole re­gion. The po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity that CPEC prom­ises for the re­gion is clear and can be de­scribed as a big for­ward thrust. It is ob­vi­ous CPEC has its en­e­mies as well and these are the en­e­mies of both Pak­istan and China since CPEC is a project for shared pros­per­ity through broad and solid co­op­er­a­tion. It is a prod­uct of China’s vi­sion of re­gional pros­per­ity since it will make shared con­nec­tiv­ity a suc­cess on so many dif­fer­ent planes and ef­fec­tively counter to­day’s con­flict-rid­den and in­creas­ingly po­lar­ized world.

CPEC will open doors to im­mense eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for Pak­istan that has seen noth­ing so far but a lack of de­vel­op­ment and progress be­cause of its in­ad­e­qua­cies and lost op­por­tu­ni­ties. The project rep­re­sents a new era of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. It will cre­ate new job op­por­tu­ni­ties in the coun­try, ush­er­ing in rev­o­lu­tion­ary eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. It will also cre­ate vast new busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties. In fact, ev­ery ma­jor cor­po­ra­tion and com­pany around the world would want to have a base in Gwadar or some­where in Pak­istan when the project starts com­ing to fruition be­cause of its geo-strate­gic and prime lo­ca­tion. The fruits of the project would cer­tainly reach all cor­ners of Pak­istan – a coun­try that has al­ways been mired in poverty and back­ward­ness. It is com­mend­able that ev­ery care has been taken to en­sure that no area of the coun­try is de­prived of the ben­e­fits of CPEC. What is fur­ther re­as­sur­ing is that the Pak­istan Armed Forces are en­sur­ing that the de­vel­op­ment projects pro­ceed with­out any let or hin­drance. Un­der CPEC, en­ergy and road in­fra­struc­ture projects have been pri­or­i­tized. In Gwadar, a 300megawatt power plant is be­ing in­stalled and land has al­ready been al­lo­cated for the Gwadar Free Trade Zone with spe­cial con­ces­sions. In ad­di­tion, projects per­tain­ing to an Ex­clu­sive In­dus­trial Park Pro­cess­ing Zone and a Min­eral Eco­nomic Zone are also be­ing taken up on pri­or­ity ba­sis. In ad­di­tion to the Free Trade Zone, ex­emp­tions in cus­toms and taxes have also been granted. Gwadar will also soon get a new air­port to serve the re­gion while the port is al­ready well-equipped.

The crit­i­cal chal­lenge for Pak­istan in 2017 will be to man­age the so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, and en­vi­ron­men­tal ex­pec­ta­tions as a re­sult of op­er­a­tional­iz­ing the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor. Un­der China’s “One Belt, One Road” re­gional ini­tia­tive, Pak­istan is im­ple­ment­ing an in­fra­struc­ture up­grade pro­gram to build new high­ways, over­haul and build new rail­ways and pro­vide the in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port 10,000 MW of ad­di­tional power be­sides up­grad­ing cy­ber con­nec­tiv­ity. While this is in­tended to bring new jobs, Pak­istan’s lead­er­ship needs to man­age ex­pec­ta­tions more ju­di­ciously at the pro­vin­cial level to avoid po­ten­tial in­ter­provin­cial con­flicts. It must also be cog­nizant of the pos­si­bil­ity of en­vi­ron­men­tal threats that an ini­tia­tive of this scale presents to a coun­try which is al­ready vul­ner­a­ble to the neg­a­tive im­pacts of cli­mate change. Pak­istan should em­brace this huge op­por­tu­nity wisely and with cau­tion and reap the eco­nomic ben­e­fits to en­hance its re­gional power and pres­tige. This is an op­por­tu­nity that must be cap­i­tal­ized on so that Pak­istan can come out of its poverty and set into mo­tion the cy­cle of progress that it so richly de­serves.

Syed Jawaid Iqbal

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.