CPEC Highlighted at Belt and Road Forum at Beijing

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Col (R) Muhammad Hanif

CPEC is a Flagship Project of One Belt One Road (OBOR) mega Project, with fresh name as Belt and Road (B&R). The Belt and Road Forum was organized by China on 14 to 15 May 2017 in Beijing and it was attended by heads of states/governments of 29 countries and Ministerial level delegations of about 130 countries.While delivering a keynote address the Chinese President Xi Jinping declared the Belt and Road as a project of connectivity and infrastructure development across countries and regions meant for trade and economic benefits to all participating countries and their people.

The B&R project comprises a network of roads and maritime silk road involving construction of roads, railway lines, airports, electricity producing projects, industrial zones and laying of fibre optic. The construction of this project will be financed mainly by the Chinese investment reinforced by other countries’ investment. The Chinese President declared that B&R project will interconnect China, Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia and the Middle East and also connect Asia, Europe and Africa. The project is said to be a win win process for all by enhancing trade, investment and transfer of technology relations among nations.

President Xi Jinping stated that the CPEC was the key project of B&R project and in this context China and Pakistan were very important countries. At the forum the Russian President declared that Russia fully supported B&R project and it would carry out investment in various areas of the project. Likewise the Turkish President announced that Turkey was in favour B&R project and it would work in coordination with China and other related countries to make the project a success. Similarly, other heads of the states/governments also announced to join the project.

 While the majority of other South Asian countries attended the Forum, India declined to attend despite the fact that China had invited it. In this context, while the world is according preference to geoeconomics over geopolitics, Indian policies are still being driven by the geopolitics.That is the reason that while Pakistan’s significance was highlighted at this international forum, due to India’s orthodox and zero sum game/power politics,it stood isolated internationally at this Forum, which was attended by leaders of all major powers and countries, i.e., USA, Russia, France, Germany, Canada and Australia and others and the regional countries except India. In other words, the Indian PM, Modi, who had recently given a policy statement to isolate Pakistan at regional and world levels, himself adopted wrong policies and isolated India internationally.

At a forum which was attended by the delegates of 130 countries, including 29 heads of states/governments, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, in his keynote speech amply highlighted the central importance of the CPEC and Pakistan for the ultimate success of the B&R. It is appreciated that the B&R would directly serve the economic interests of almost 70 countries, joining the project, and indirectly the whole world. Prime Minister of Pakistan, along with the Chief Ministers, also attended the forum and highlighted the importance of CPEC as a project that will be a major route of the world trade and it will also act as a catalyst for intra-regional and inter-regional connectivity. After its completion, since the CPEC would accrue many economic benefits to the regional countries, it will also serve as an incentive for regional peace and prosperity in South Asia and Central Asia.

As a Flagship project, the CPEC got a wide publicity as a project on the success of which depended the success of the Belt and Road. Since 29 heads of states/governments were also attending the B&R forum it is expected that CPEC would attract investments from the major economies of the world. In this context foreign investments are expected not only for the CPEC but for other economic related projects as well. Since this Forum was widely attended by the world leaders, because of its successes in the war on terror and due to the importance of the CPEC, Pakistan’s image also got projected as a country that prefers peace and economic development internally as well as in its neighbourhood.

In this context, signing of the CPEC agreement with China and its dedicated resolve and efforts to root out terrorism and complete the CPEC on time indicate Pakistan’s sincerity for attaining regional peace and prosperity. Hence, CPEC would be completed on schedule and it will definitely act as a fate changer in this region. To achieve this objective it is important that the South Asian countries, particularly India and Afghanistan,  should cooperate to achieve peace by addressing regional disputes through urgent and result-oriented dialogue so that all could join the CPEC and make this region prosperous.