CPEC in the Perspective of Changing International Landscape

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Professor Dr Muhammad Khan

While conceiving the idea of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the planners of this gigantic project had thoroughly deliberated the changing regional and global landscape in 21st century. This colossal project was perceived as a fusion for the developments at multiple levels; global, regional, bilateral and domestic. As an essential part and being the pioneer of Chinese Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI), the CPEC had global connections. Its timely completion as per plan will boost the other corridors of the BRI. Besides, it will connect various regions of Asia, paving the way for the global connectivity. Upon its completion, it will connect Pakistan with Iran through land route and with the Middle East (Arab world) through Arabian Sea which can be further extended to European and African continents.

Regionally, CPEC will integrate various Asian regions for benefitting each other economically, politically and socially, thus reducing the current gulf between various Asian states and regions for a greater connectivity and economic integration. This is basically necessitated by the concept of regionalism and globalization, the essence of new global landscape. Through regional approach, CPEC will connect Afghanistan with Pakistan, paving the way for connecting Pakistan with Central Asian region. The landlocked region of Central Asia requires such connectivity for the true realization of their trade and commerce and particularly sale of their oil and gas resources. Pakistan will become a trade hub between energy efficient and energy deficient states of the Asian Continent.

Bilaterally, China and Pakistan are two key states of Asia with geographical contiguity and over seven decades of all-weather friendship. China had a vision and Pakistan had venue to implement the mutually beneficial project. Correctly perceived, timely implemented and judicious use of the CPEC will greatly benefit the two nations for centuries. This will be in fact a test of the leadership of both countries that, how best they can make use of this unique facility for promotion of bilateral trade and a judicious and equitable people-to-people contact. The opportunities are enormous, the good governance, futuristic policies and perceptive use of the CPEC would however matter a lot in any future scenario.

Domestically, all provinces of Pakistan have been connected through CPEC, a great development by doing away the misperceptions, initially created owing to selection of routes to be adopted. Through lateral routes, various parts of the provinces, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are now connected with main CPEC route. This will provide an opportunity to underdeveloped parts of Pakistan to have connectivity with developed parts; providing equal opportunities to all for the economic development and prosperity at all levels.

The changing international and regional landscape is necessitating the greater cooperation between the regional states and international community. In this regard, human resource is considered as the most significant segment apart from policy formulation and financial back-up. Indeed, no product or service can be produced without involvement of human beings. The common perception that, in the era of industrial development and technological advancement, the role of human beings has been minimized is fallacious. The fact is that, it is human beings who brought this revolution in the fields of information technology and industrial development.

Even the latest technology needs to be operated and monitored by human beings. In this era of globalization, each organisation desires to take lead from its competitors, thus would like to have competent and highly skilled human resource. For the best utilization of CPEC, there is a need to educate our youth at least at the basic level of skill education. Without education, it is unimaginable to run and operate the modern machinery and equipment of information technology. The world’s new economic game demands fundamental changes in the social and economic behaviour of our society. Our seats of higher learning need a change in the mind-set for a knowledge revolution and framework for development and growth. Pakistan has over 60% youth population which is the real treasure of this country.

In the CPEC project there was an understanding that China will shift its labour intensive industry to Pakistan. Under such circumstances, the major challenge Pakistan is facing to provide well trained and skilled manpower in diverse areas to meet the needs of its growing industries, coming up in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and other projects all along the CPEC. Pakistan needs a strong connection between market needs and graduate skills. Pakistan currently faces acute shortage of institutes of technology and the vocational training institutes.

CPEC is a unique project, having the potential to transform Pakistan economically, politically and strategically not only in the region but at the global level. Understanding Chinese philosophy of development encompasses, the main theme of people-centric development is a great learning and, indeed, a real experience for the government and people of Pakistan. Following such a strategy would put Pakistan on the path of development with a promising future. Adoption of such an approach would enable Pakistan to attain a moderately prosperous society where people’s wellbeing and their right to equal participation and development will be guaranteed.

CPEC has enormous potential to absorb the skilled manpower and the educated youth for optimum utilization of their potential. It also increases the stakes for all provinces and communities within Pakistan. Accruing benefits of this massive project is only possible once Pakistani masses are geared up through a collective wisdom and unity. Indeed, the youth of any nation act as engine in its economic development and socio-political harmony. Upon completion, CPEC will also enhance stakes of the regional countries and global players, since it provides a secure connectivity at all levels.

In the wordings of Professor AhsanIqbal, “The global economic landscape has changed dramatically”. In this changing global economic landscape, connectivity through infrastructural development and technological advancement are key areas for socio-political integration and economic prosperity. CPEC is a vehicle providing the needed connectivity and opportunity for the optimal utilization of technological advancements through a futuristic approach.