Game-Chang­ers are for Good Play­ers: A Re­al­ity Check on CPEC

The Diplomatic Insight - - Special Supplement on China Pakistan Economic Corr -

The China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) presents an un­prece­dented op­por­tu­nity for the state and peo­ple of Pak­istan as never be­fore has such mas­sive in­vest­ment, ca­pa­ble of a coun­try-wide trans­for­ma­tion, been poured into the coun­try. More­over, a sim­i­lar pro­posal would have a lesser point in his­tory than it has to­day, thus its en­dorse­ment as a Gamechanger for Pak­istan. This is be­cause Pak­istan, by virtue of its fa­vor­able geo-strate­gic po­si­tion­ing had al­ways been a de­sir­able part­ner and an af­fa­ble coun­ter­part for states in­ter­ested in its sur­round­ing re­gion. But in re­cent times, things have gone from bad to worse and de­spite the geo-strate­gic fa­vor­a­bil­ity with­stand­ing, the de­sire and will to en­gage with Pak­istan has fol­lowed a con­stant down­ward curve. To ev­ery­one’s knowl­edge, that is the out­come of end­lessly re­gress­ing se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion as well as political and so­cial in­sta­bil­ity which has be­come Pak­istan’s iden­ti­fy­ing fea­tures in the con­tem­po­rary In­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. In such cir­cum­stances, it is Pak­istan’s only all-weather friend, the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic of China whose strate­gic in­ter­ests have given it enough will and courage to em­bark upon such jour­ney with Pak­istan. This sin­gle Chi­nese move counts as a much needed sil­ver-lin­ing for Pak­istan, giv­ing hope for multi-faceted div­i­dends in ad­di­tion to eco­nomic re­vival. The mas­ter-plan in­cludes mul­ti­ple projects for build­ing and im­prov­ing trans­porta­tion, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture across the cor­ri­dor touch­ing the least de­vel­oped parts of the coun­try. It thus gives to the political elite a chance to as­suage the decades old reser­va­tions re­gard­ing their bi­ased pol­icy-mak­ing be­hav­ior to­wards back­ward ar­eas of the coun­try. Pro­mot­ing de­vel­op­ment, em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and the so­cial sta­bil­ity that will help erad­i­cate rad­i­cal ten­den­cies hav­ing great ap­peal in the less-de­vel­oped parts. CPEC there­fore pro­vides us with av­enues for cor­rect­ing the course and for see­ing its fruit­ful out­comes as well. How­ever, a po­ten­tial game-changer can make a real con­tri­bu­tion only when the game is be­ing aptly played, that too by adept play­ers well-aware of their in­ter­ests and pri­or­i­ties. CPEC with a to­tal worth of $46 bil­lion, is no ex­cep­tion to this rule. The pro­posed cor­ri­dor would ac­tu­ally turn ta­bles in Pak­istan’s fa­vor only if hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions are sec­onded by pru­dent plan­ning and skill­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, that is yet to be seen as in­stead, short­sight­ed­ness and tac­ti­cal con­sid­er­a­tions based on parochial in­ter­ests, present a time-tested recipe for fail­ure, al­ready ap­pear to be ad­versely im­pact­ing this pro­ject at its very in­fancy. In­hibitive ten­den­cies

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