CPEC & future of Pakistan

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Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

TIME and again, the Prime Minister of Imran Khan upheld the socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by connecting it with the “future” of Pakistan. Keeping in view the rapidly changing regional as well as international “dynamics” and “parameters” of power politics disturbing peace, prosperity, means of survival, productive channels and last but not the least “partnerships”, the CPEC has now become “magnetic” force to mitigate pre & post COVID-19 spill-over ramifications by speeding up joint ventures in diverse sectors of the macro-economy, attraction in inflows of foreign direct investment, enhancing coordination in massive infrastructural development, means of communication and above all reduction of poverty and generation of new jobs in the country.

In this context, the CPEC Phase-II would bring more “tangible” results in terms of cheap and hydro energy generation, social development, health, housing, agro-economy, research, space sciences and tourism in the days to come. But still there are certain irritants and red lines which will have to manage for its unstoppable execution and implementation by creating win-win “befitting” propositions for both the countries and, of course, all the stakeholders. While giving interview to Global Village Space, Major General Babar Iftikhar, military spokesperson of the Inter Services Pakistan Relations (ISPR) clearly blamed Indian ill designs to “tarnish” soft image of Pakistan by targeting the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He was of the view that New Delhi used to follow “extremist” plans to target the project and the manpower associated with CPEC’s construction, however, he assured diversified but integrated measures taken by the government proved effective to safeguard the project.

Despite hue and cry in regional as well as international mass media about “stalemating” of the CPEC and propagating its forced slow downing from Beijing, the Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Hua Chunying acknowledged a major progress especially in the infrastructure and energy projects being completed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework. She termed the CPEC an important pilot program of China and Pakistan joint efforts to build the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and there has been a major progress recently especially in infrastructure and energy projects. During her briefing to media, Hua Chunying upheld sustainable development of the multidimensional projects of the CPEC which did not deter its pace, efficacy and production cycle even during the wild spread of the Covid-19 and played a vital role in the economic growth of the country. The recent meeting of ‘14th Five Year Plan’ blueprinted its future development.

She further elaborated that the CPEC has strategic importance and work together to implement our leaders’ consensus and vow to carry out good jobs with existing projects, focus more on livelihood, industrial and agriculture cooperation. The spokesperson commented that both Beijing and Islamabad are committed to turning the CPEC into a demonstration project for the BRI and bring greater benefits to both countries and the region. Even, CPEC Authority Chairman Lt Gen (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa during his speech in the 11th International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Forum (IIICF) in Macao Special Administrative Region successfully mitigated false, untrue and unproductive “web of misinformation” of India and its other regional allies and international masters by reaffirming sustainable growth in the CPEC projects. He also projected multiplier socio-economic benefits of the CPEC in terms of construction of new roads, means of communication, creation of new jobs and last but not the least, boosting economic development in the national economy of the country.

He further briefed about immense development in the ongoing mega projects of energy and infrastructural development under the flagship of the CPEC, over the past five years, there were 22 construction projects under the framework of CPEC, covering roads, railways, airports, thermal power, hydropower, renewable energy, Gwadar Port, special economic zones and other areas.” He appreciated that even in face of the novel coronavirus, all CPEC projects have been moving forward, bringing hope for a future of peace and economic growth.” He termed infrastructure investment and construction a key to reviving the jobs market and national economies. Moinul Haque, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China strongly affirmed that no project has been suspended for construction, and no worker has been laid off. Even Lahore’s Orange Metro Line subway system has now been completed.

In this connection, Minister for Economic Affairs Khusro Bakhtyar expressed hope that implementation of projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework would be expedited. He hoped that the Joint Cooperation Committee meeting during December would be successful and that the implementation of important socioeconomic, energy, transport, infrastructure and special economic zone projects would be expedited. While meeting with newly appointed Chinese Ambassador, Nong Rong he labelled agriculture as one of the key sectors for the Pakistan’s economy and hoped that both countries should deepen and expand cooperation in the agriculture sector under CPEC umbrella to enhance productivity and value addition. Economic Minister hoped that Pakistan-China ties would further deepen and be strengthened. He termed Sino-Pak friendship strategic which supported each other on the issues of their core interests.

Within the last couple of years, a series of power projects transformed the country into energy surplus destination from the power-deficient one. He highlighted that Special Economic Zones (SEZs) would be developed in the next phase of development after early harvest projects under the CPEC. Government is expecting $1.3 billion worth of exports revenue from industrial chemicals through establishing SEZs dedicated to biotechnology. On his part, Chinese Ambassador Nong said Pakistan-China relations will grow further under the leadership of the two countries. He conveyed government of China’s full support to CPEC and resolved that Pakistan and China should further deepen cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral institutions. Being a prominent regional expert of BRI & CPEC, I am “optimistic” that “caravans” of the socio-economic prosperity under the flagship project of the CPEC will definitely surpass all hurdles to make it a successful role model for other regional countries to follow through highest levels of political consultation in the days to come. Role of newly appointed Chinese ambassador Nong Rong would be positive, productive and participatory in the days to come.

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