Balochis­tan takes lead in CPEC

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - K. Iqbal

WHILE there is enough at­trac­tion for the in­ter­na­tional play­ers, re­gard­ing the China Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC), the up­hill task has been to save it from the in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal spoil­ers. The credit goes to Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif, where so far he has been able to do this job well. Most of the up­roar on the is­sue has been on faulty as­sump­tions and non-avail­abil­ity of com­plete in­for­ma­tion about the up­com­ing projects that would keep un­fold­ing as the over­all CPEC pro­gramme keeps ma­te­ri­al­is­ing. In the broader con­text, it is a cen­tury long pro­ject that would even­tu­ally in­ter-con­nect Asi­aEurope-Africa un­der the broader um­brella of One Belt One Road(OBOR). Fi­nances are read­ily avail­able through Asia In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank­that has a pro­jected equity of US$ 200; other ma­jor fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions have also shown in­ter­est in in­vest­ing in CPEC projects.

Pak­istan and China had signed an agree­ment on April 20, 2015 to com­mence work on CPEC de­vel­op­ment projects worth over $46 bil­lion, which comes to roughly 20 per cent of Pak­istan's an­nual GDP. The cor­ri­dor aims to con­nect Gwadar port in Balochis­tan to China's Xin­jiang re­gion via a net­work of high­ways, rail­ways and pipe­lines spread over 3,000km.

As per its track record, In­dia has raised ob­jec­tions to the pro­ject and has set aside US$ 300 mil­lion to cause dis­rup­tive ac­tiv­i­ties both phys­i­cal and political.In­dia has lodged per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tives of most of self-ex­iled sep­a­ratist Baloch lead­ers and­pro­vides them fo­rum for vent­ing anti-Pak­istan sen­ti­ment within In­dia and other coun­tries. Grav­ity of the mat­ter can be gauged from the fact that dur­ing the con­struc­tion of M-8, there were 207 at­tacks on the FWO work­ers by mis­cre­ants that caused 26 deaths of its staff, while 18 from the help­ing staff also lost their lives.

On Fe­bru­ary 03, Prime Min­is­ter in­au­gu­rated Rs13 bil­lion Gwadar-Tur­batHoshab Road (M-8), a part of CPEC. Army chief Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif drove the prime min­is­ter on the newly-con­structed 193-km long high­way, which will con­nect the western, cen­tral and east­ern routes of CPEC with the Gwadar Port. The premier on the oc­ca­sion said his govern­ment ac­corded top pri­or­ity to de­vel­op­ment in Balochis­tan, and re­garded the road con­struc­tion as a dream come true. He termed Pak­istan's pros­per­ity as the pros­per­ity of Balochis­tan and 2016 as take-off year for CPEC; Army Chief has al­ready de­clared 2016 as time­frame for erad­i­cat­ing ter­ror­ism from the coun­try. Both th­ese are laud­able vi­sions but would re­quire gi­gan­tic ef­fort to ac­com­plish.

Nawaz Sharif said that the Cen­tral Asian Re­pub­lic was keen to use the elab­o­rate net­work of roads in Pak­istan to reach to the open seas, adding that the road link­age would ben­e­fit as many as three bil­lion peo­ple of the en­tire re­gion. He lauded the FWO team for com­plet­ing the road de­spite nu­mer­ous chal­lenges, and ap­pre­ci­ated the army chief for his in­ter­est in the pro­ject, as well as over­all peace in Balochis­tan. Prime Min­is­ter said that build­ing the na­tion is not fun and he is de­ter­mined to bring a real rev­o­lu­tion in the coun­try. He said that solid work does not need slo­gans but it re­quires de­ter­mi­na­tion and strat­egy.

The Prime Min­is­ter an­nounced three new road projects: Quetta-Khuz­dar High­way would be du­alised. Work on Baseema-Khuz­dar, Shah­dad­kot and Be­laAwaran high­ways will start soon. The com­ple­tion of th­ese roads would link Quetta to Gwadar and to Afghanistan through Chaman. He said the Pak­istan Army and FWO are proud of their work on the M-8 pro­ject which was ini­ti­ated un­der the di­rec­tives given by the Chief of Army Staff on Fe­bru­ary 6, 2014. Com­ple­tion of the pro­ject within such a short time un­der ad­verse se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tion is in­deed a com­mend­able job.

The sem­i­nar on "Peace and Pros­per­ity in Balochis­tan", held in Quetta on Fe­bru­ary 02, proved to be highly ed­uca­tive in the sense that it served as a plat­form to dis­cuss all aspects of the Balochis­tan is­sue and how to ad­dress them. The high­light of the sem­i­nar was ad­dress of Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif who minced no words in iden­ti­fy­ing the causes of the trou­ble in the prov­ince with fore­most be­ing the proxy war be­ing fought by dif­fer­ent re­gional and dis­tant pow­ers for their own ends. He also ex­plained the strat­egy be­ing pur­sued by the Army to help re­store nor­malcy in the volatile prov­ince. Since the Army Chief is in the know of things, ev­ery­one should take his words se­ri­ously and lis­ten to his ap­peal for join­ing hands to counter con­spir­a­cies of the en­emy. His rev­e­la­tions crys­tal­lize two things - there is gross for­eign in­ter­fer­ence with some for­eign pow­ers train­ing, arm­ing and fund­ing anti-state el­e­ments and hence the need for a com­bi­na­tion of mea­sures to ad­dress the chal­lenge ef­fec­tively. As for ex­ploit­ing of the sit­u­a­tion by for­eign agen­cies is con­cerned, our agen­cies are coun­ter­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties but there is dire need that the political lead­er­ship should high­light the is­sue dur­ing en­gage­ment with world lead­ers. Sim­i­larly, our di­plo­mats should sen­si­tize pub­lic opin­ion es­pe­cially gov­ern­ments and me­dia in host coun­tries about de­signs of th­ese pow­ers.

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