CPEC & OBOR: Portents of progress

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Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

 

THE announcement of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) vision accentuated Pakistan’s pivotal position in Eurasian economic connectivity. Consequently, Pakistan has become an attractive country for the foreign direct investment since 2015. The accomplishment of a few early harvest projects of CPEC not only manifests both Islamabad and Beijing resolve to materialize all the projects within deputed years, but also signifies Pakistan’s prominence in the OBOR initiative. The Gwadar port, today, is viewed as an emerging economic hub of Asia.

Ironically, a few analysts deliberately or inadvertently have been articulating concocted stories against the expectant benefits of the OBOR project. The negative propaganda against OBOR directly undermines CPEC project. Admittedly, objective debate on both CPEC and OBOR is indispensable for revamping the policies for the economic prosperity of Pakistan. For instance, the demand for the transparency of the projects is a practical approach. Notably, both the Government of Pakistan and the Chinese diplomats have been explaining the nature, cost and outcome of the CPEC projects.

Conversely, the subjective or prejudice judgments on the OBOR and CPEC projects are not in the national interest of Pakistan. Without investigating or examining the details of the projects expressing opinion is a destructive approach. Hence, it’s imperative to generate explanatory discourse to reveal the reprehensible agenda of the forces, which always desire to keep Pakistan economically underdeveloped and instable country. The informative discourse definitely increases the people of Pakistan’s confidence in the CPEC projects.

Since 2013, the Chinese have been striving to set up an intercontinental infrastructure network between Europe, Africa and Asia. It is because, without the regional connectivity the sustainable economic growth is a mere wishful thinking in the 21st century. The primary objective of OBOR is to bring Asian countries closer and establish new accesses with Europeans and Africans countries. On May 15, 2017, China’s President Xi Jinping while highlighting the aim of OBOR stated: “We need to seek win-win results through greater openness and cooperation, avoid fragmentation, refrain from setting inhibitive thresholds for cooperation or pursuing exclusive arrangements and reject protectionism.” Chinese ruling elite seems convinced that through sustainable multinational economic projects, China would economically advance. Precisely, it marked that Chinese believe in collective progress.

The international community is equally cognizant about the potential of OBOR, i.e. to establish connection among the 65 countries across three continents with China, which would influence the lives of 4.4 billion people with a total gross domestic product of US$2 trillion once the vision is realized. Indeed, it would boost the global trade. Therefore, 29 heads of state and government, besides delegates from around 130 countries participated in the Belt and Road summit held in Beijing on May 14-15, 2017.

The CPEC is a flagship project of the OBOR initiative. Therefore, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, senior Federal Ministers and four Chief Ministers of the provinces participated in the recent Road and Belt Summit in Beijing. Prime Minister Sharif categorically stated: “Let me make it very clear that CPEC is an economic undertaking open to all countries in the region. It has no geographical boundaries.  It must not be politicized.” During the Summit, Pakistani participants underlined their country’s ability and capability to facilitate the Central, West and South Asian nations to benefit from OBOR through CPEC. On May 15, 2015, Premier Sharif stated: “take this historically unique opportunity to build a peaceful, progressive, inclusive and sustainable world.” He once again said the government of Pakistan ensured the international community that CPEC is not against any country.

Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly opposed CPEC, yet Pakistani and Chinese leadership is determined to engage the South Asian states including India for the prosperity of entire region. The economic connectivity, certainly, assists in replacing the enmity with amity between the belligerent neighbours.

The sovereign development is perquisite for sovereign defence of the country. Since 2015, Pakistan has been endeavouring to improve its economic situation with the cooperation of China. Indeed, economic prosperity is not acceptable to Pakistan’s adversaries. They have been hatching conspiracies to malign the CPEC project by spreading fictitious analysis. Hence, the people of Pakistan ought to act as the vigilant custodian of the CPEC for the sake of a sovereign defence of the motherland.