All roads lead to Gwadar

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Imtiaz Rafi Butt

ON 10th April 2016, talking to the Washington Post, Zhang Baozhong, chairman of China Overseas Port Holding Company said that his company could spend a total of $4.5 billion on roads, power, hotels and other infrastructure for the industrial zone, which he said would be open to non-Chinese companies. The company also plans to build an international airport and power plant for Gwadar. This would be the first time where a country deliberately and unequivocally has given a direct incentive for growth to the manufacturing and production sectors in another country. This is just one of the features that are coming to light with the development of Gwadar. Economists and analysts around the world are of the view, that if Gwadar develops as per plans between the Chinese and Pakistan government, it will be one of the most booming port cities in Asia. It is the apex point of the $50 Billion plus investment by China in Pakistan under the umbrella of CPEC, One Belt One Road Initiative and Maritime Silk Projects. It seems that the strategic position of Pakistan which has been a curse from a historical perspective is finally transforming into a promising treasure holding immense rewards for the nation.
The Gwadar port is among the initial construction works to be completed. The port is being built in two phases after being inaugurated in 2007. Now, that the Gwadar port management and completion on time has been sublet to the Government of China. Gwadar port is all set to have more trade volume capacity than Karachi and Port Qasim combined.
Gwadar is without a doubt a unique entity in its own. It is a city in the southwestern coast of Balochistan, just 600 Kms away from Karachi. Included in the overseas possessions of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman since 1783, it was purchased the Government of Pakistan in 1958. This was, not a coincidence of any sort but rather a deliberated strategy that came after the authentic “Deep Water Report” issued by the United States Geological Survey in 1954. The head of the survey team was Worth Condrick who said that “Gwadar is a sea port made by nature”. Little did anyone realize that the young nation of Pakistan had found treasure buried under a rock. Gwadar formally became a part of the Balochistan province in 1977.
In order to fathom the massive investments coming from China, one must consider the plus points which will be offered to the Chinese people in undertaking all these ventures in Pakistan and Gwadar. Considering the bilateral and reciprocal endeavor, the Chinese government has decided to bring a lot to the table. First and foremost, Pakistan has been offered a total of 27000 Megawatts of additional energy that would eliminate the power shortage in the country and reduce the cost of industrial and domestic consumption. To put that figure into perspective we are currently producing less then 14,000 Megawatts effectively. In lay man’s terms that is huge. It is a target which would be simply impossible to achieve without the financial and political intervention of a Great Power such as China.