CPEC: A transformational project


Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

SINCE his arrival in Pakistan, the Chinese Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Nong Rong, to Pakistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has now been energized. Chinese Ambassador Rong met with high government dignitaries, policy-makers, prominent politicians, head of regulatory bodies, businessmen and industrialists to get its Phase-II started as soon as possible. During these high official meetings both sides agreed to complete the ongoing projects and start of its Phase-II in the very near future. Both sides showed complete national consensus on CPEC’s indispensability for national development efforts. It hopes that the Phase-II will bring multiplier dividends to the macro-economy of the country.

The Government of Pakistan has already termed it a transformational project, changing productive channels and ways and means of human survival in the country. The CPEC has become a transformational mega project in the country which has further enhanced strategic bilateral relations between the two countries. It has already generated new jobs, new avenues of foreign direct investment, befitting propositions of joint ventures, social development, massive industrialization and, above all, surplus energy supplies in the country. The CPEC is a real transformational project which has now further enhanced regional as well as inter-provincial connectivity by initiating world class infrastructural development projects in the country. It has increased the pace of digitalization in the country by installing the most advanced fibre system. It succeeded to eliminate energy deficits and poverty ratios in the country.

The CPEC projects are transformational because its diversified energy and infrastructure projects have created thousands of jobs and boosted industrial growth and productivity. It really strengthens Pakistan’s economic landscape. Being a prominent regional expert on BRI & CPEC, I predict that CPEC Phase-II would be power-house for massive industrialization, immense agro development, social development, health, cheap and affordable housing, tourism and last but not the least, science and technology in the days to come. It will create vast jobs and growth opportunities for common people. The CPEC Phase-II will facilitate formation of various SEZs in the country. Nine SEZs have been finalized to be built during its Phase-II. In this regard, three out of the nine SEZs, namely Rashakai, Dhabeji and Allama Iqbal have been prioritised and Pakistan would welcome foreign direct investment in those projects.

The CPEC Phase-II will also revolutionize the agricultural sector of the country by introducing latest means of harvesting, hybrid seeds to yield more and more per unit production, converting deserts into cultivating lands and assisting government and the farmers in case of any calamity. In this context, a plan of action, detailing the contours of this collaboration, is already being discussed between the two governments. The CPEC Authority Chairman, Lt Gen (R) A.S. Bajwa showed the Authority’s sincere commitment to ensuring that projects will be completed in time, hoping that the 10th JCC will be held soon and create more economic opportunities and contribute to further expansion of CPEC projects. He reaffirmed that Pakistan would welcome the relocation of industry from China and in that regard will institute a regime that could encourage the inflow of Chinese investment to Pakistan.

It was reaffirmed that post-COVID-19, through collective efforts of China and Pakistan, CPEC would become the hub for regional trade and connectivity and will deepen people-to-people contacts at a wider level. While meeting with the Chairman Board of Investment (BoI), Atif R.Bokhari, Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong agreed to invite foreign and local investors apart from Chinese investors to invest in industrial zones under the industrial cooperation, in the second phase of CPEC. During the meeting, BoI Chairman and Ambassador Nong Rong discussed matters of mutual interest, particularly those relating to industrial cooperation under the CPEC. The BoI Chairman highlighted the benefits of working jointly to make the CPEC Phase-II fruitful by attracting quality Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). He apprised the Chinese Ambassador of the Draft Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation (IC) under the CPEC.

On his part, Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong said he gave utmost importance to the draft framework agreement and would push it forward to the relevant departments in China. The BoI Chairman stated that Pakistan and China had a shared future and there was immense potential for people-to-people linkages. He suggested that there should be an effective business-to-business collaboration after achieving effective government-to-government cooperation. Furthermore, both sides dismissed the common misperception that the CPEC SEZs in Pakistan were limited to Chinese companies only. Both sides upheld that the SEZs and other industrial cooperation ventures under the CPEC are open to third party participation.

Undoubtedly, the CPEC is a transformational project due to which regional countries especially India has been targeting its very existence and economic propositions terming it Pak-China military extension in the region which has already been strongly rejected by the Government and Foreign Office of Pakistan. Most recently, Foreign Office briefed the local and international media about its dossier entitled “Indian efforts to destabilize Pakistan”. According to the said dossier, Indian PM Narendra Modi is himself supervising a special cell set up in the headquarters of RAW in 2015 to target the CPEC project. It was created to undertake all steps including terrorists’ actions to sabotage, undermine and delay the projects under the aegis of CPEC projects and to create a hostile negative environment around the whole concept of CPEC and BRI of which CPEC is an integral part.

Islamabad and Beijing have been advocating peaceful orientation of the CPEC to help the Pakistani economy. But right from the beginning Indian policy makers posed serious doubts. The Foreign Office dossier added that the cell is involved in activities against CPEC through the use of proxy warriors and information attacks. Initially, the cell was allocated a sum of $500 million to fund terror against CPEC. It also consists of information regarding formation of Indian force of 700 field operatives dedicated to targeting CPEC and other projects in Balochistan. Funds of US $ 60 million have been spent in organizing this force that is supervised by a 24-member Commission that has 10 senior RAW officers. It looks highly likely that this 700-member force is being directed by the CPEC Cell.

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