Col (R) Muhammad Hanif
As has been reported by the Pakistan’s print and electronic media, while addressing the 8th Judicial Conference, organized by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan at the Supreme Court Building, Islamabad on 5 May 2018, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Saqib Nisar said, “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a win-win project that promises direct foreign investment and offers to explore unique benefits. He said, it was necessary to develop legal capabilities that would address the respective legal and administrative complexities as well as grey areas, which could turn out to be stumbling blocks in realising the entire potential of CPEC investment”. The Chief Justice spoke about the CPEC in the context that the Judicial Conference had earmarked a session for the discussion on a theme, titled “Regional Economic Integration and Effective Dispute Resolution Mechanism in the context of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)”.
The Chief Justice said that CPEC will attract a fantastic quantity of foreign direct investment (FDI) and to maximize its potential benefits, it was necessary that a supporting legal mechanism was quickly developed and set in position to protect the FDI and resolve other legal conflicts. In this context, the Chief Justice emphasized on following:
· The importance of removing potential legal hurdles standing in the way of Foreign Direct Investment, and enhance foreign investors’ faith in Pakistan’s criminal justice system.
· The need to evolve mechanisms of “Alternate Dispute Resolution” including commercial arbitration, to facilitate investment-treaty arbitration of interstate disputes.
· Necessity of evolving attractive legal arrangements for small and medium-sized enterprises, so that they can get CPEC-related economic benefits by avoiding prolonged litigation, and saving money in the process.
· Streamlining the Pakistan’s legal system to deal with patents and copyrights, including intellectual property rights, which should be protected through special courts, as protection of financial investment and intellectual property rights would contribute to investor confidence and a speedy transfer of engineering science.
· Ensuring that adequate legal information was available to the citizens, business entities and foreign investors as they are entitled to security of their investment.
· The Judiciary should address any anxiety of the Chinese judicial system about the CPEC litigations in Pakistan, to enhance China’s confidence in its investment.
· The need for strictly enforcing the decree of the Chief Justice, to the civil courts that no ex-parte stay orders are given in respect of CPEC-related projects.
·Holding a serious dialogue to assess the legal, social, cultural and economic, including environmental aspects of the multi-billion-dollar Chinese investment in the CPEC.
· Ensuring the execution of the CPEC-related recommendations of the Judicial Conference.
In view of the above, it can be very well visualised that if our legal system becomes ready to quickly respond to resolving the litigation issues and the protection of financial investment and property rights, it is certainly going to contribute towards the progress of the CPEC. And, if the CPEC projects are completed on time by the removal of legal hurdles, it is only then that Pakistan’s industrial development and enhancement of its international trade will speed up, which will contribute to its economic development in a major way. The completion of the CPEC and Gwadar Port will also earn lots of transit revenue for Pakistan, which will strengthen its economy and defence. This economic development would definitely provide employment opportunities to the youth and increase peoples’ income to improve their welbeing.
Moreover, the completion of the CPEC and the implementation of the Judicial Conference’s recommendations regarding an introduction of multimodal transport law and infrastructure in the region to make Pakistan a transit state in the trade between Central Asian Republics and the creation of a Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency at a regional level, appointment of dispute resolution advisers and making a dispute adjudication board, would greatly help Pakistan in becoming a regional trading hub, thus enhancing its international standing.
Hence, this initiative of Chief Justice, Saqib Nisar-led Judiciary to discuss an important subject of boosting CPEC-related FDI by strengthening the related legal requirements and emphasis of the Chief Justice on quickly putting in place a legal framework in this context is a very timely step to serve Pakistan’s economic interest. The mere fact that the Chief Justice of Pakistan is very firm on making legal contribution towards protecting CPEC-related FDI, the foreign investors will definitely be encouraged to make major investment and resultantly many more countries would like to join the CPEC which will benefit Pakistan in an immense way. In this context, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Saqib Nisar and his Judiciary’s this great contribution would be remembered in the history of Pakistan. The whole nation needs to appreciate this valuable contribution.