CPEC:A thorn in enemies’ eyes


Dr Nasreen Akhtar

ONE should admit and admire that actuality of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) PEC has bestowed broader socio-economic dividend and all partners would enjoy. This Land-Sea based economic corridor cooperation is based on mutual respect and trust between China and Pakistan. The idea of CPEC was floated in 1990s. China approached Musharraf’s government to connect China’s “western provinces to the Arabian Sea in 1999”. Therefore, Gwadar Port has changed the nature of relations between the two old and time tested friends. Many agreements have been signed between China and Pakistan but CPEC is a bench mark. CPEC is a puzzle for India and the US. In 2015, China happily agreed to spend $46 billion (now it has been increased) for infrastructure to launch the trade route –connectivity with the regional and global markets. China has provided “concessional loan” to Pakistan which has never been possible between the two old partners – Pakistan and the US.

In his address to the joint session of Parliament, President Jinping, commended Pakistan and China’s historical relations and said “ Pakistan stood by Beijing at a time when it stood isolated on the world stage”. In global politics every state seeks its personal interests at other’s cost but China also keeps Pakistan on its priority to provide economic benefits through CPEC. CPEC is an unprecedented regional/global project which would strengthen Pakistan’s fragile social and economic sectors. Since Imran Khan has assumed power, his government is striving to enhance China-Pakistan partnership. During his first visit to China, Prime Minister Imran Khan, urged that “we can learn from China more than any country in the world” because China is a rising global power and the Chinese leadership set example to eliminate poverty and corruption from their society. Indeed Khan also wants to uplift Pakistani society, China, to him, the best modern state which is rising.

Today, CPEC is actually changing Pakistan’s fate. Pakistan’s energy, industrial and agriculture sectors would excel and increase Pakistan’s capacity to facilitate its people. The year of 2019 may take off Pakistan economically and CPEC’s broader dividend would drastically change Pakistan’s internal socio-economic order. According to the Minister for Planning and Development, Khusro Bakhtiar, “in 2019 several economic zones are being set up and they would increase Pakistan’s export”. Soon Pakistan would enjoy its dividends. Recently Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, rightly said, “CPEC is a broader initiative and China does not have any unilateral interest in it”. A broader initiative for broader dividends will make and shape Pakistan’s economy to uplift its poor people and feeble industry.

Undoubtedly, CPEC has provided new avenues to Pakistan which is fighting against terrorism on its own soil and terrorism has left grave impact on Pakistan’s socio-economic condition, without China’s help it would not have been possible for Pakistan to commence commendable projects to develop its infrastructure and to connect itself with international markets – Central Asian States, Middle East, Africa and Europe. As we know the other’s war ‘War on Terrorism’ has incapacitated Pakistan and it needs tremendous economic support. Ironically, many people in Pakistan criticize CPEC in seminars, conferences and on TV Channels they depict CPEC as a ‘trap by China’ against Pakistan, it seems they do not read China-Pakistan history and their bilateral political and security relations. Their naïve narrative disseminates unrest in developing zones and irks China as well. The critique must understand that “for their survival states depend on each other” fortunately, Pakistan is depending on China which never disappointed Pakistan and its people.

It is evident, CPEC is irritating Pakistan’s rival India and China’s rival US. Both consider China as the only ‘competent competitor’ in the world. Both India and the US have launched great debate and campaign against CPEC. Debate gained momentum after the US Defence Secretary, James Mattis, said, “CPEC would traverse disputed territory” (Gilgit- Baltistan). US opposition to CPEC seemed to be confirmed when the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, argued that an IMF financing program for Pakistan should not be used to repay Chinese ‘bond holders’ and banks. The US stance was interpreted widely as part of its strategic confrontation with China “spanning trade, technology, the South China Sea”. So, CPEC is not a threat to Pakistan, however, this is a great puzzle and upset to anti-Pak-China forces.

CPEC, undoubtedly, will influence the US and India’s interests. Consequently India and the US have common concerns which were reflected by the US Secretary of defence, Jim Mattis. He said, “The One Belt One Road strategy to secure China’s over both the continental and maritime interests, in their eventual hope of dominating Eurasia and exploiting natural resources there, things that are certainly at odds with US policy. So what role do you see China playing in Afghanistan, and particularly related to their” Belt Road Initiative (BRI. To the US China, via CPEC would be able to have direct access to Indian Ocean. India and the US know that CPEC would not work without Gwadar Port which will enable China’s movement in Indian Ocean. China’s expansion in Ocean would deter the US “from blocking the Strait of Malacca, a key passage in the Indo-Pacific region”. To curtail China’s influence the US has developed its grand strategy and renamed the US Pacific Command as ‘US.-Indo Pacific Command’ in 2018 and Secretary Mattis categorically stated that “in recognition of increasing connectivity of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, we renamed the US. Pacific Command”. The former commander of the US Pacific Command has said that “great power competition is back”. CPEC would bring prosperity to Pakistan while it is a great threat to India and it’s like mind partner- those oppose China as emerging power in the world. But India- US nexus may not be able to alter the regional and international dynamics which are going to be changed via CPEC and BRI. China is going to change the regional and world order.

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