The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a great blessing of God Almighty. Pakistan has its geographical significance which cannot be denied and this is the reason why it stands out from all other countries of the world. The world’s defense analysts have openly stated that the geographical importance of Pakistan cannot be ignored. That is why Pakistan has paid a heavy price since its inception. The eyes of all the major powers of the world are fixed on the region and all the countries have set up special desks that are constantly keeping an eye on Pakistan. However, the changing circumstances are heralding that Pakistan will have a prominent place in the world. All the major powers of the world are leaning towards Pakistan. Pakistan connects South Asia with Central Asia, the bridge between energy producers and energy consumers. The importance of Pakistan can be gauged from the fact that the world is suffering from an energy crisis. Pakistan’s neighbor China is the world’s largest economic power. It is the only country in the world that has to slow down its pace of development so that the social balance does not deteriorate. Pakistan is the first country in the world to recognize China. Pakistan-China relations were established in 1951 and have strengthened over time. China launched the largest project in the history, which was named the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
China is set to make the major investment in the Pak-China Economic Corridor at 46 billion dollars. The project is expected to be completed by 2030. CPEC includes several projects such as laying a network of roads across the country, upgrading of the railway from Karachi to Khyber, establishment of Gwadar port and making it an international industrial and commercial city, the establishment of industrial zones in the country, and energy production. So far 32 projects have been completed. Work on the rest is in full swing. Both countries are monitoring the pace of the overall project. Last year, the Pakistani government cut development budgets, causing some projects to be postponed. But now work has resumed on pending projects.
Significance of CPEC for China
CPEC is the world’s largest economic project. The CPEC includes China’s interests more than our own. Without the completion of the CPEC, China’s dream of becoming a superpower can never be fulfilled. China imports 6 million barrels of oil from Arab countries daily, which reaches China by sea that is about 12000 km distance. China’s relations with some countries are not good, which could block the sea route at any time and could damage China’s economy. The alternative land route from Gwadar to China is only 3000 km, which, of course, is the safest and the most economical option. Also, Chinese products can reach Central Asia, Africa, and Arab countries in the shortest time and at the lowest cost via CPEC.
Importance of CPEC for Pakistan
CPEC is a game-changer project for Pakistan. Completion of CPEC has the potential to change the economic landscape of Pakistan. Earlier, the Indus Water Works project has also proved to be a game-changer for Pakistan that had far-reaching results. However, only Punjab and Sindh benefited from that project. Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and FATA fell behind. The western route of the CPEC has brought development to these areas.
The CPEC project will improve infrastructure, self-sufficiency in the energy sector, and provide an estimated 2.3 million jobs between 2015 and 2030. The establishment of industrial zones will also increase Pakistan’s productive capacity, which will lead to a significant increase in foreign exchange reserves. According to analysts, CPEC will also pave the way for an industrial revolution in Pakistan. Also, Pakistan will be included in the list of emerging economies with the money received in terms of transit collection.
Possible imperceptible disadvantages of CPEC
Like every project, CPEC may have potential disadvantages. While CPEC can put Pakistan ahead economically, some downsides cannot be ignored. According to US analysts, CPEC will only benefit China. And that will only protect Chinese interests. China is also lending money to Pakistan in the form of CPEC, which is not on easy terms at all. Experts are calling it China’s tactic that in the coming times Pakistan will be so indebted to China that it will be forced to say yes to China. However, this is just speculation.
The real dangers of CPEC are as follows:
- Destruction of the manufacturing sector.
- An increase in imports and a decline in exports could lead to a negative balance of payments.
- Precious foreign exchange earned from CPEC is used only to pay interest on loans.
- CPEC route’s security costs.
- Pakistan’s share in Gwadar Port’s revenue and Baluchistan’s share in Pakistan’s share.
- The share of provinces in the revenue of CPEC.
- Adverse effects of CPEC on the environment.
Pakistan will have to formulate a comprehensive strategy keeping all these possibilities in mind. The government should take the nation into confidence over all these possible dangers. If all these issues are not addressed then, God forbid, new provincial issues may arise. Seminars on the subject of CPEC should be held in the country. Think tanks should make recommendations regarding the CPEC and the government should get direct interest. CPEC is a guarantee of development not only for Pakistan but for the entire region. This is not a collaboration between the governments but a partnership of the people. Therefore, keeping politics aside, every government has to take an equal interest in it so that all the projects of CPEC are completed on time.
The article is written by Sharjeel Afzal and originally appeared here. Translated and reposted by mPKg webmaster ‘silver water’.