By: Qurat ul Ain Aman
The world we live in is not only moving but is also changing with every passing day. It has become a global village today. Given this state of the world, it is impossible for a country to live in isolation. And, that holds true for Pakistan as well. Pakistan’s archrivals, especially India, have log desired to isolate the country internationally and have also put in strenuous efforts in this regard. Pakistan has unstable relations with two of its neighbours, i.e. India and Afghanistan, but our all-weather friend, China, does never disappoint us. It not only defends Pakistan at international fora but also comes to its rescue whenever enemies are out to defame it and get it declared a country that sponsors terrorism.
With its rapid and remarkable economic progress, China is marching on its way to becoming the world’s largest economy and a great, formidable power. One of the major reasons that have added an impetus to this meteoric rise of China is its revolutionary Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This colossal project is not limited to any one country; it has an overwhelming number of them in its fold. One of the major projects being carried out under the BRI is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that offers huge dividends to both China and Pakistan, as well as the countries in the region.
Being a developing country, Pakistan is faced with a plethora of social and economic issues such as shortage of energy, poor infrastructure, low literacy rate, high employment ratio, etc. Timely completion of CPEC will not only strengthen China-Pakistan relations but will also provide a much-needed boost to the economy of our country. Pakistan has been able to grab this opportunity only because of its unique geostrategic location that is no less than a blessing for it. And, it won’t be wrong to assert that CPEC is the best way to get full advantage of this ideal geostrategic location.
Many critics have termed China’s launch of the CPEC as the advent of another East India Company in terms of its objectives and purposes. On the other hand, our enemies, too, have made consistent attempts to stop and sabotage this project. However, the honesty of the Chinese leadership and the strong will and resolve of the Pakistani government have played a major role in materializing this dream.
Before the launch of this game-changer initiative, the Balochistan province of Pakistan was known for poor infrastructure and precarious economic conditions. It is not wrong to say that these were the factors that paved the way for the rise of insurgency in this part of the country. However, the situation has changed a lot and Balochistan is ready to become a hub of trade in this region. This rapid transformation would have not been possible had there been no CPEC. It also needs to be remembered here that beneficial impacts of CPEC are not limited only to Balochistan; rather, the people of every province are getting full advantage of this project in the form of employment opportunities, better health facilities, developed infrastructure and enhanced energy supplies. A clear rise can be seen in the ratio of employment since the beginning of this mega project.
Moreover, all the misconceptions and ambiguities attached with CPEC were resolved with the announcement of the Long-Term Plan of CPEC that offers the best opportunity to put our country on the road to prosperity. The Long-Term Plan is the proof of transparency of this corridor and is in line with our Vision 2025. Besides, the importance of special economic zones cannot be denied as far as the economic condition of Pakistan is concerned. It is imperative to cash in on the improvements in our economy that are already becoming clearer day by day.
It is because of the blessings of CPEC that many international companies are now willing to work with Pakistani companies. The rate of foreign direct investment is increasing. Different seminars and conferences are organized to make businessmen and investors aware of better opportunities of investment and trade. It won’t be an exaggeration if we say that the CPEC has completely changed the business climate of our country.
One of the major issues Pakistan is faced with at present is the shortfall of energy. Under the project of CPEC, around 12,230 MW has been added and as a result load- shedding has decreased substantially. Moreover, people-to-people contacts have also improved that has played a key role in presenting the soft image of Pakistan to the outer world. Moreover, scholarships are being provided to the Pakistani students so as to give them opportunities to study in China. Cultural exchange programmes are another good initiative to further boost people-to-people contacts.
Although Pakistan has always had a tilt towards the United States of America since independence, the US-Pakistan relations, now, are on an unstable trajectory owing especially to the growing Indo-US relations. Countries hostile to CPEC must realize that it is a win-win project for China and Pakistan, as well as the entire region. China has no imperialistic ambitions and this view is adequately proved by the history of the country. This project is to bring prosperity in the region. Those who are trying to sabotage CPEC are actually fearful of the future advantages of this game-changer project.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor offers a host of opportunities that are pregnant with potential to change the fate of Pakistan. The need of the time is to take its full advantage through good governance. Moreover, both federal and provincial governments must work together by setting aside all their petty differences. All the projects of the CPEC are equally beneficial to all the provinces. In the words of Chinese president Xi Jinpipng, “We should use China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to drive our practical cooperation with focus on Gwadar Port, energy, infrastructure development and industrial cooperation so that the fruits of its development will reach both all the people in Pakistan and the people of other countries in our region.”