CPEC – a game changer

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Mohammad Jamil
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, linking Gwadar Port to the Chinese province of Xinjiang, will be a game changer not only for Balochistan and Pakistan but also for the world trade. In Balochistan, development activity has picked up with the return of peace after years of insurgency and violence. A few countries are trying to sabotage the mega project, but Provincial Minister for Home and Tribal Affairs, Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti has more than once said the provincial government would do its part in providing fool-proof security to workers during the construction period. With the development efforts of the federal and provincial governments and efforts of the Army Balochistan youth having been inducted in the army, who will frustrate the designs of enemies of Pakistan. People of Balochistan and even Jirga are likely to support efforts for peace and development in Balochistan.
In the past, Baloch youth, the jewel of human being, bubbling with enormous talent, vitality and energy had been suppressed by Sardars. But, whenever he got the chance he turned out an acknowledged doctor, engineer, lawyer, civil servant, diplomat and general of sterling quality. Various governments in the past, whether military or elected, had appeased and mollycoddled illusive Sardars, chieftains and local wielders who had been riding a rough shod over Baloch commoners, particularly youth. Billions of rupees were poured into the provincial treasury from the centre in the name of packages and development plans from 2002 to 2009 but one did not see any worthwhile project with first-class educational facilities in diverse fields and disciplines for the commoner Baloch youth. Since Abdul Malik was elected CM and then Sanaullah Zehri is at the helm, funds are being spent on the projects that can be seen on the ground.
Not only Balochistan and its people but people of Pakistan will benefit from China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC project is part of Beijing’s “Belt and Road” plan to expand its trade and transport footprint across Central and South Asia. It will give China easier access to the Middle Eastern oil via the deepwater port of Gwadar. Of course, the completion of Gwadar would make Balochistan economic hub and create a strategic nexus between Pakistan, China and Central Asia. It would provide links from the Caspian Sea to the Strait of Hormuz, and enable Gwadar to compete with Persian Gulf ports. The US is wary of Chinese strategic access to the Arabian Sea and its presence in the region. Reportedly, the US tried several times to persuade Pakistan against involving China in the mega project but Pakistan remained firm on its commitment to China.
On 1st June 2015, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had raised the issue of CPEC during his recent visit to China (2015) and called the mega project unacceptable for the country, which was sheer interference in the affairs of a sovereign country. During a press conference in June 2015, Sushma Swaraj also told reporters that the Indian government had summoned the Chinese envoy over the $46 billion economic corridor that is to run from Gwadar in Pakistan’s west to China’s Kashghar. China’s Foreign Office rejected India’s reservations on CPEC, and said that “India’s concerns are not right enough and we will carry on trade ties with Pakistan.” He added that the CPEC would bring stability and prosperity in the region. Out of desperation, India has stepped its vile acts. Arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav bears testimony to the fact that India is involved in terror acts.
The provincial government, federal government and military have contributed towards winning the hearts and minds of the people; which is why many Farari commanders have laid down arms and dissidents have been forced to come to the negotiating table. After successful completion of Zarb-e-Azb, Radd-ul-Fasaad is progressing well, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Saturday visited Rajgal valley, Khyber Agency, where he was given detailed briefing on progress of Operation Khyber-4 in which forces have cleared over 92 percent of the area, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Talking to officers and troops on the occasion, COAS said: “With the full backing of the nation, we are heading towards a normalized Pakistan where writ of State and supremacy of law would be ensured so that every Pakistani will be able to play his positive and rightful part in Pakistan’s progress.
It is imperative to establish the writ of the State throughout Pakistan to create climate conducive to investment and development. Reportedly, the US had tried several times to persuade Pakistan against involving China in the mega project. India has invested heavily in the road linking project from Afghanistan to Iran’s Chabahar port to lessen the importance of Gwadar Port. But given the determination of Pakistan and China, the project would be completed in time. Balochistan will become an economic hub and people of Balochistan and other provinces of Pakistan will benefit from the mega project. It will also help Pakistan to achieve self-reliance, get rid of the dependency syndrome. Of course, Pakistan would become militarily strong and India would think twice before hurling threats or resorting to posturing.
Many anti-Pakistan lobbies have been at work to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as they know that with the completion of its projects Pakistan will usher into an era of progress and prosperity. There are others who wittingly or unwittingly create unfounded fear and misconception about the CPEC. Anyhow, CPEC will open new vistas of development as a result of which the national economy will grow fast, lead to creation of new job opportunities, poverty reduction and development of transportation sector and boost industrial growth. CPEC is a comprehensive package of cooperative initiatives and projects, which covers key areas including connectivity, information network infrastructure, energy cooperation, industries and industrial parks, agricultural development, poverty alleviation, tourism, financial cooperation as well as livelihood improvement including municipal infrastructure, education, public health and people-to-people communication. Energy sector has been assigned top priority to help Pakistan overcome energy shortages.
However, Gwadar Port Project is the centerpiece of Pak-China Strategic Partnership with its strategic location and potential for becoming the future economic and energy hub. The projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will transform it into one of the world’s leading port cities having top-class commercial and tourist facilities, integrated infrastructure and investment opportunities. This will make Gwadar a catalyst for development of Makran Coast and Balochistan in particular and Pakistan in general. The first phase of Gwadar port with three multipurpose berths having a total quay length of 602 meters is fully operational. The first phase was completed last year, which included three multipurpose berths of 602m quay length, one service berth of 100m length, 4.35 km navigable channel of 11.6/12.5m depth, roads, plinths and transit shed, operational craft and equipment including navigational aids and shore-based port buildings and allied facilities.