BRI not a ‘debt trap’


MINISTER for Planning Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal has strongly refuted the negative perception of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and dismissed the notion that it is a ‘debt trap’. Speaking to international media representatives in Islamabad, he said that stories of the initiative being a ‘debt trap’ are simply “concocted to spread propaganda in global geopolitics of competition” adding that wherever the BRI has gone, the local people can testify to its positive impact.

The Minister, who has been in close association with all moves that brought an offshoot of the BRI to Pakistan, is not alone in arriving at this conclusion as neutral think tanks also subscribe to this view. Chatham House, a UK-based international affairs think tank and a leading policy institute, carried out a research on the topic, which trashed the theory of BRI as a ‘debt trap’. The study brought to the fore the fact that economic factors were the primary drivers of current BRI projects and that developing-country governments and their associated political and economic interests determine the nature of BRI projects on their territory. This finding is also confirmed by Pakistani experience during finalization of projects for inclusion in the framework of ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC), which is part and parcel of BRI. All the projects under the multi-billion dollar initiative were proposed by Pakistan keeping in view its developmental needs and demand of the people and Chinese provided funding for them and that too on concessional terms. Contrary to the theory of debt trap, the CPEC has offered a valuable opportunity to Pakistan to improve and modernize its infrastructure and resolve chronic problems of sectors like energy, railways and telecommunication. China is also helping Pakistan to modernize its industrial and agriculture sectors to improve national income and overcome the financial crunch.