Eco­nomic cor­ri­dor project with Bei­jing as­sured de­spite Pak­istan lead­er­ship change

Global Times US Edition - - ASIANREVIEW - By Aftab Hus­sain

The supreme court of Pak­istan dis­qual­i­fied prime min­is­ter Muham­mad Nawaz Sharif on Fri­day, and he ceased to be the prime min­is­ter of the coun­try.

Nawaz Sharif has named his younger brother Shah­baz Sharif as suc­ces­sor, but it will take some time be­fore a new prime min­is­ter is in place.

Nonethe­less this will not im­pact Pak­istan’s po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity in any way. All the po­lit­i­cal par­ties fa­vor the con­tin­u­a­tion of the demo­cratic process.

Some sup­port­ers of Nawaz Sharif have ex­pressed con­cerns that his re­moval will have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the on­go­ing China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) project. They spec­u­late that the new prime min­is­ter may not be as vig­or­ous as Nawaz Sharif in sup­port for the CPEC. Such con­cerns are only po­lit­i­cal in na­ture and are aimed at dis­tract­ing the pub­lic from the is­sue of dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion as well as stak­ing out po­si­tions ahead of the next elec­tion in 2018. It is noth­ing but pure pol­i­tics at play.

The dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of Nawaz Sharif should be seen as a le­gal mat­ter, although with po­lit­i­cal con­se­quences, as he failed to prove him­self qual­i­fied for the post of prime min­is­ter. There is a pro­ce­dure to main­tain po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity in the coun­try. In a demo­cratic setup, per­son­al­i­ties change and in­sti­tu­tions en­sure the se­cu­rity, sta­bil­ity, progress and de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try. The in­sti­tu­tions of Pak­istan are be­com­ing more and more pow­er­ful, as is ev­i­dent from the cur­rent judg­ment of the Supreme Court of Pak­istan.

There is a sys­tem in place for the con­struc­tion of the CPEC, mon­i­tor­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing in the de­vel­op­ment of the project. There­fore, the CPEC as well as bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with China will not be im­pacted by the change of lead­er­ship in Pak­istan. Since 1962 there have been changes of per­son­al­i­ties on both sides but bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion still con­tin­ues. The Chi­nese have dubbed the two coun­tries “iron brothers.” China is con­sid­ered an all-weather friend by all the po­lit­i­cal par­ties of Pak­istan and the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of Nawaz Sharif can­not change that.

China has also as­sured its sup­port for the project de­spite the po­lit­i­cal change in Pak­istan. Re­spond­ing to the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of Nawaz Sharif, Chi­nese For- eign Min­istry spokesper­son Lu Kang in a state­ment said, “We be­lieve that the China-Pak­istan strate­gic co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship will not be af­fected by the change of the sit­u­a­tion in­side Pak­istan. China stands ready to work with Pak­istan to con­tinue jointly build­ing the Belt and Road.”

The spokesper­son also hoped for the unity of po­lit­i­cal par­ties for the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of Pak­istan. The timely state­ment en­sures that bi­lat­eral ties are not only be­tween the lead­ers of two na­tions but more im­por­tantly be­tween the peo­ple of the two na­tions. China will keep sup­port­ing Pak­istan no mat­ter who is in the power.

Both coun­tries have sup­ported each other through thick and thin. Not only politi­cians but also the com­mon peo­ple on both sides of the bor­der cher­ish Pak­istan-China re­la­tions. Re­cently China pro­vided sev­eral schol­ar­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties to Pak­istan stu­dents for learn­ing Chi­nese in China. This ef­fort will fur­ther strengthen the re­la­tions be­tween two coun­tries. The fi­nal bar­rier of lan­guage be­tween two na­tions will soon be over­come. The en­hanced peo­ple-to-peo­ple con­tact will bridge the gap be­tween the peo­ple of two coun­tries.

Nonethe­less, the next prime min­is­ter, which will likely be Shah­baz Sharif, also holds the re­spon­si­bil­ity to make sure that work on the CPEC project con­tin­ues as sched­uled and all the projects are com­pleted in time.

The CPEC is con­sid­ered to have great im­por­tance by the peo­ple of Pak­istan. Dis­cus­sions have been held on how the peo­ple of Pak­istan will ben­e­fit from this project. As the chief min­is­ter of Pun­jab, Shah­baz Sharif him­self is quite keen and per­son­ally in­ter­ested in the pro­posed spe­cial eco­nomic zones and in­fra­struc­ture and power projects in­side Pun­jab. It is hoped that once he as­sumes power as prime min­is­ter of Pak­istan, he will work with the same spirit to­ward the de­vel­op­ment of the CPEC as well as to­ward the progress and eco­nomic pros­per­ity of Pak­istan as a whole. The au­thor is a Pak­istani re­search scholar of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions based in Shang­hai. aftab­hus­sein@hot­

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