CPEC, its geopolitical challenges

Muhammad Javed Siddique

HIGHER than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight and sweeter than honey” These are the words that have been spoken time and again commemorating the prestigious alliance between the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the Peoples Republic of China. In this respect China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a project that shows China and Pakistan’s strong bond. Pakistan and China have the convergence of national interests in economic and strategic aspects. The span of their diplomatic relations stretched over six decades. Both countries are tied to each other by geopolitical dynamics as geographical location aids route linking China with the Middle East and Central Asian Republics (CARs). The Central Asian States possess two hundred billion barrels oil and about three thousand billion cubic meters of gas reserves.

China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has potential to promote economic connectivity and revolutionize the dynamics of power politics in the South Asian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern regions, respectively. It is a project to decide the new dimensions of relations and foreign policy deliberation among regional countries and big powers. CPEC is an inimitable part of China’s multi-national One Belt One Road (OBOR) strategic initiative. Approximately, it’s a worth 60 billion dollar Chinese investment in Pakistan.  It connects three engines of growth in South Asian, China and Central Asian regions with Pakistan. Almost 3.5 billion people, half of the world population would be taking benefits from this joint economic market that CPEC is going to form. Gwadar is the crown jewel of this multibillion-dollar project and is situated in a crucial strategic juncture of Arabian Sea. Gwadar port is being developed and plans are underway to connect it with China by establishing the long-awaited Gwadar-Kashghar road. This would be having a great importance not only for Pakistan and China but for the entire region.

Pakistan benefits from its strategic location and China is taking advantage of that. Around 80% of China’s trade and energy imports travel through the pirate-swarmed Strait of Malacca and Indian Ocean, both patrolled by the United States and Indian Navies. The CPEC would not only be the alternative to Strait of Malacca but also provide China with an entry point to the Persian Gulf. Strategically some countries are worried that China is broadening its geopolitical influence and possibly its military presence in the region. For example, some Indian intellectuals suspect the Gwadar port will serve as a Chinese Naval facility, and it only comes at a cost of about $46 billion.

The United States is also not in favour of letting the Chinese troops get safe access to the Indian Ocean which going to become a reality in form of CPEC. This project also may produce serious dents in the US, South East, and East Asia policies. To overcome its effect recently, America and India concluded, “Strategic Military Agreement”.  On the one hand which seems to be a long-term remedy to counter the unlimited socio-economic benefits of CPEC and on the other hand to confront China’s onward march to enter in Central Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. For the completion and sustainability of CPEC, the role of Pak-Army is very crucial and undeniable. Due to its economic viability and strategically important location, no one can deny it would face security threats in all frontiers. Pak-China’s rival countries would leave no stone unturned to sabotage the smooth and prompt progress of this project. To hinder these evil nature enemies of Pak-China everlasting friendship the Pak-Army is having a front line and leading role. On its part, Pak-Army formed a complete mechanism to protect the interests of the regional game-changing project (CPEC).

A high ranking official of the Chinese Army, while defending China’s stance on Pakistan said, “Pakistan is China’s Israel”. A strong Pakistan will not only keep terrorist groups from Afghanistan in check but also check any untoward hostility from India. The geopolitics of Asia is now witnessing the constellation of stars aligning themselves to give rise to a China-Pakistan nexus that has the potential to massively change regional politics. China is taking its only ally seriously and intends to take the trophy of being a world superpower in Asia and the Middle East. It is in the best interest of both states, and if done right, will change the face of Asia in a way never perceived before.

CPEC just not would be facing challenges internationally; it also is a reason to change the internal political and social scenarios in Pakistan. Pakistan is a leading country, where its internal political, social and law and order situations would also be problematic for the implementation and practicability of CPEC. Every country has this right to defend its own interest because foreign policy of any country must not be formed on the so-called good wishes of any other country. Instead of so many challenges, this project is going to decide the fate of world’s geopolitics and may supersede the American notion of occupying and loot by economic cooperation among the world community. We hope CPEC would harness Pakistan’s geo-political position into geo-economics and China-Pakistan’s everlasting friendship would envisage a dawn of new era in world politics.

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