CPEC Invigorating Blue Diplomacy

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GWADAR

Diplo-Economic Prominence: Seas play a vital role for diplomacy and trade in global environment and have shaped Blue Diplomacy. Pakistan has been blessed with large area of Arabian Sea (termed as warm waters) encompassing 290,000 Sq. km with three main ports Karachi, Port Qasim and Gwadar. Gwadar Deep Sea Port is a pivotal segment of OBOR as it links Eurasian continent with Indo-Pacific region. In domestic perspective, Gwadar will add to its strategic depth as additional distance of 460 Km away from India will decrease the vulnerability of Pakistan. Gwadar will help Pakistan and its allies to monitor the Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOCs) originating from the Persian Gulf and bottle neck at Strait of Hormuz. Presently Central Asian Republics (CARs), China, Pakistan and Russia have mostly common diplo-economic interests whereas regional and extra regional interests seem to be initially on divergent axis.
Diplo-Economic Value of CPEC: The globalization is invigorating more harmonizing changes in the world economy that are leading to a ‘Borderless Civilization’. CPEC will afford a harmonizing facet of diplo-economic perspective for entire region. CPEC can be of help to China in improving its ever expanding trade to Central Asia, Middle East and Africa, as it will reduce the sea distance to 2500 km instead of 10,000 km. Gwadar offers Beijing a tactical position in the energy rich Caspian region thus, affording a substitute trade route for the western Xinjiang province, therefore, utilizing it as a trade route through Gwadar Port, hence, allowing China to be a major global economy. Xinjiang shares borders with Pakistan, CARs and Afghanistan which is a Muslim dominated area. The religious and cultural affinity combined with economic prosperity will cause much needed peace in the region. Central Asia and South Asia, encompassing Caspian Region, CARs, Afghanistan, Iran and the energy-rich Caspian Sea have a vital geo-economic value. Caspian Sea Littoral States need to settle maritime borders of Caspian Sea as it remains an object of continuing debate between Russia, Turkmenistan, Iran, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan (Blank, Stephen J, 2009:1). The CARs need economically feasible pipeline infrastructure to export their hydrocarbon resources through CPEC (Gwadar) being the shortest route.
Afghanistan has been gifted with a number of natural resources. However, these resources are not being fully exploited. Afghanistan currently has fewer exports. Its economy is mostly dependent upon the imports for which it needs a sea trade route from Pakistan to Indo-Pacific Region. Persian Gulf countries are the pivot of world’s oil trade. They share two thirds of international oil trade. Besides the exports in the oil sector, the Gulf region has very few exports and is largely dependent on the imports from around the world. Gwadar port, due to its location, will be significant to the Gulf Region for exporting oil to China, India and Japan. On the other hand, Oman being next door neighbour is likely to profit most from this project by capitalising on the trade from China and the CARs. Therefore, Oman’s Government is taking a lot of interest in the project. Iran has competitive concerns over the development of Gwadar Port owing to its proximity to Iranian ports of Chahbahar and Bandar Abbas. Gwadar port can generate commercial opportunities, which can be used by Iran as well. Tehran has taken the initiative by establishing an oil refinery at Gwadar in order to share the trade, transit and strategic potentials.
Pakistani Perspective: CPEC hinges on linkages and 804 km long Karakoram Highway is the most vital link. Hence considering the facets like its vulnerability to seismic fault line, proximity to ‘Line of Actual Contact ‘and increasing traffic load it will be pragmatic to establish a route on an alternate axis from Wakhan Corridor to Peshawar along River Chitral.
As CPEC is part of OBOR that will link Asian region to Europe, therefore it will be imperative to involve German diplo-economic interests in CPEC because of its economic strength and centuries’ old interests in Afghanistan, Pakistan and CARs. It is estimated that CPEC will bring in large number of Chinese to Pakistan which will have social impact for Pakistan therefore it will be necessary to formulate the policies accordingly. It has been highlighted that CPEC will provide millions of jobs for Pakistanis. As the project will mostly include Chinese companies which would look forward for cheap labour therefore Pakistanis should mostly be employed on technical job. Presently, much needed technical skill based knowledge is mostly being provided by Pakistan Army in Baluchistan. It is time that government should make pragmatic arrangements for the training. It has been highlighted that a number of agreements have been concluded between governments and trading companies of China and Pakistan. However the details of these agreements have not been shared. There is need to share the details of such agreements with academia for a comprehensive research and development of this subject.