By Abid Hussain
Library Officer (Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad)
Pakistan has faced a number of challenges since its inception. The asset in the shape of strategic location has not been exploited by Pakistan fully. The vulnerability of the bordering areas alongside the growing insurgencies has put great hindrance in the path of growth and prosperity. Consequently, the asset has turned into a liability. Pakistan, however, at the crossroads can play a positive role to rescue its economy by welcoming China’s huge investment. Its warm waters and strategic location are of immense importance for the major actors of global politics. The booming Chinese economy needs the transit security, for its energy supply. The insecure existing transit routes have put Pakistan as the most viable option for China. Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan opened new door to China and Pakistan for mutual benefits, it is a development megaproject, which aims to connect Gwadar Port in Southwestern Pakistan to northwestern China Xinjiang Uyghur via a network of highways, railways and pipelines. The total cost of these projects will almost 46 billion US Dollar and expected to be finished in a few years. The CPEC is considered as a game changer for Pakistan and its neighboring country. The main purpose of this mega project is to connect China with Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East via BRI .The CPEC can provide a safer route to China for trading with Middle Eastern, African and European countries. This in turn will generate many opportunities for Pakistan. It will help Pakistan in improving Baluchistan’s security situation by injecting more investment. In addition, other marginalized provinces will also have platform to strengthen their social, political and economic conditions. However, associated with the trade route and handing over of the Gwadar port project to China, are some concerns of the skeptic players, both at the regional and international level. As we know that CPEC is an ongoing project which has many challenges for both countries to undermine its beneficial impact for all involved. The threat may be internal and external and have many shapes like political, economic and Security, etc. Pakistan will face a huge difficulty in pursuing development of economic corridor, but once it is operational, it will be a game changer for Pakistan economy. Pakistan and Chinese leadership, statesmen and diplomats have defined and redefined the strategy in various ways for the enhancement of mutual cooperation in different fields and also tend to agree to further boost the relationship between two friendly countries to new heights with a new plan which is commonly known as CPEC. The cooperation between Pakistan and China is increasing with the passage of time and this cooperation is diverse in nature. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a major project which aims at the rebuilding of the economy of Pakistan and put Pakistan on the right track. This project if termed ‘life-line’ would not be wrong to mention as it focuses on infrastructure and energy sectors of Pakistan and due to the advancement of these sectors, countries move forward. As the economy of a country depends upon industrial sector and this sector needs a continuous supply of energy. And after the production of the material, timely transportation to the right place and market is dependent upon the infrastructure facilities. And this China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will build a road from Gwadar to Kashghar and other road projects. And all these projects would enhance the capacity of Pakistan’s industrial sector and strong industry would ensure a lot of job opportunities available to the talented youth and this project would also pay special focus on those areas which were earlier neglected. China Pakistan Economic Corridor is also beneficial for China and it would link China’s western region to the shortest possible route to the market of Central Asia and other areas. China is showing special interest to uplift the facilities at Gwadar Port which will enhance the port’s capacity and this would benefit not only Pakistan but to China also. Keeping in mind the cost and benefits of CPEC, when once it is operational it will really change the destination of both countries and will also put the economy in the right direction. The future prospects of the China-Pakistan economic corridor; to what extent it will be benefitting Pakistan and its neighborhood. It is a blessing in disguise to take advantage of the location Pakistan is placed at, and what could be the real impediments to achieve that position. Overall the CPEC is a path to progress. The successful completion would also encourage more investment from other countries. Challenges for CPEC included security, terrorism, political situation and economic instability. The Security is a big hindrance for CPEC which may affect Chinese workers during their project. This is the responsibilities of the Pakistani government to provide full pledge, security to Chinese workers for carrying out this mega project. The terrorism is also another factor for CPEC which created many problems for foreigners to work in a peaceful environment so; it is the responsibilities of Islamabad to provide a terrorism free atmosphere for completing this project. The political instability between various party systems not allowing CPEC to be completed in the time frame. So, collective effort should be made by all parties to complete this project. Internal security of Pakistan is another factor which may affect the ongoing project, so the government of Pakistan will take keen interest to overcome on internal security being faced. The external security of neighboring side is also one of the biggest issues; many countries are against this project to be completed in the time frame. They are paying a huge amount to various groups to let the Chinese government go away from Pakistan and stop the ongoing project which boosting the economy of Pakistan. Keeping in mind all these challenges a collective effort may be made by all elements included, politician, Defence forces, Current government and Civic may make this project as an effective one.