Naveed Aman Khan
Work on different infrastructure and energy development projects and establishment of free trade zones under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be completed before the schedule as the leadership of both countries is giving great importance to it. China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a connectivity plan, aimed at bringing prosperity to the people of region. It has received high importance in the Chinese next five year plan. The first phase of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor is scheduled to be completed sometime during 2017-18. The second phase of this long-term, broad framework, multiple sector project will be completed by 2020 and the phase will be accomplished by 2030. However, the benefits of the CPEC have started emerging even before completion of its first phase.
Pakistan’s profile has improved in terms of being an investment destination. Economic indicators in Pakistan have improved. Security agencies within the country have also renewed their pledge to root out terrorism. The ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ operation, a joint military offensive led by the Pakistan Armed Forces which aims to counter various militant groups, has entered its final phase and the country’s law enforcement agencies have officially announced that the operation will be completed shortly. Operation Rad-ul-Fasaad in Karachi and other cities of the country has shown magnificent positive indicators of peace and harmony.
The CPEC was initiated with investment worth 46 billion US dollars. This amount is primarily used for developing infrastructure and producing energy through bilateral agreements between China and Pakistan. Out of this initial amount, 35 to 38 billion US dollars are being utilized for energy and the rest of the money goes towards the development of infrastructure. This includes estimates for spending 11.6 billion US dollars in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, 11.5 US dollars in Sindh, 7.1 US dollars in Baluchistan and 6.9 US dollars in Punjab.
China’s trade routes for the Middle East, Africa and Europe will experience a substantial reduction after completion of the project. China’s dependence on the sea of Malacca and South Asia will also be reduced. The CPEC – a route almost 3,200 kilometers in length has connected Kashghar in China’s western Xinjiang region to the port of Gwadar. Nearly 80 per cent of China’s oil is transported by ship from the Strait of Malacca to Shanghai, a distance of more than 16,000 kms, with the journey taking two to three months. But once Gwadar has become operational the distance is reduced to less than 5,000 km. China’s presence in Gwadar also increases its influence in the Indian Ocean, a vital route for oil transportation between the Atlantic and the Pacific Pakistan has seen a new path of development and prosperity as a result of the CPEC. New hope has been instilled in a country which currently faces energy deficit and there is a certain confidence amongst observers that Pakistan could become a regional economic hub.
The Armed Forces of Pakistan are protecting the China Pakistan Economic Corridor just as a mother does for her child. The army has formed a Special Security Division for Chinese engineers and workers. Special Security Division comprises nine army battalions and six wings of the civil armed forces, commanded by a Major General. Armed Forces of Pakistan are fully aware of all campaigns against the corridor and they are ready to pay any price to turn this long cherished dream into reality.
Now there is seemingly no opposition towards the project from within Pakistan and even ordinary Pakistanis are fully aware of the importance of CPEC. Criticism on the CPEC by enemies of Pakistan has made common citizens aware and conscious about the project. Quite some time back when the Chinese ambassador to India was summoned to New Delhi so that the Indian government could express its opposition to the project, normal Pakistanis came to understand how important the project is for them.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a commercial project having nothing to do with any third party. Pakistani media successfully and positively highlighting its importance. Fortunately, the CPEC has strengthened Pakistan as all major political parties are united on it. It is also important to note that every province hopes to gain the maximum amount of benefit from the project and there is certainly nothing wrong with such benefits. Share out of profit of CPEC is right of each province. The benefits and blessings of China Pakistan Economic Corridor should be felt by the masses of Pakistan. In Pakistan Council of Common Interest is a mechanism of sharing resources and benefits among provinces. This Council of Common Interest has done a great job in the past in resolving difference of opinion among provinces. So there is not a remote possibility of any hurdle from any side within Pakistan about successful implementation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. In fact our national policy makers should take care of the benefits of all the provinces as each province is the part of Pakistan. Likewise security of CPEC will remain prime responsibility of Armed Forces of Pakistan throughout.