CPEC & New Great Game

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Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Since its inception in April 2015, governments of Pakistan and China continuously reiterated peaceful utility and orientation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Right from the beginning, it promised transformational gains but unfortunately, some of the regional power brokers and their international movers and shakers termed it as a potential regional security threat. On the contrary, after five years most of its mega energy projects have now been completed in the country. Its second phase is going to be started very soon despite eruption of COVID-19.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has already changed the basic dynamics of power politics in the South East Asia, Central Asian, East Asian and Middle East regions. It has also produced shock and awe among the regional power brokers. Despite world propaganda, it is a game and a fate changer of the whole region. CPEC is the most important economic initiative for South Asia in the 21st century and completion of ongoing projects would bring about a new era of development and reduction of poverty in the country.

CPEC is a new concept of commercial diplomacy based on shared goals of prosperity. The project would help eliminate poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment not only from Pakistan but from whole region. It would usher in prosperity in the region comprising three billion of the world’s population, almost half of the world. It is a significant bilateral agreement which has the potential to reconfigure the geopolitics of the South Asian region. China agreed to invest over $60 billion in this economic corridor which runs from Gwadar, a deep sea port in the province of Baluchistan in Pakistan to Kashgar in China’s northwest province of Xinjiang with roads, railways and pipelines. The Gwadar port connects the conduit of the three most commercially important regions namely West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia.

Being prominent regional expert of CPEC & BRI I think that CPEC will transform Pakistan into an attractive economic and energy hub entails coal, hydro, solar and wind plants. It is a link between the prospective Northern and Southern Silk Roads that China is heavily focusing on in order to establish a transit for its manufactured goods all the way to Europe, the Middle East and Africa respectively.

It will allow China to monitor the vulnerable sea lines of communication as 60 per cent of its crude supply comes from West Asia. Moreover, most of its supply will be moved through this port which will save China millions of dollars, time and effort. It will help reduce its dependence on the Strait of Malacca.

Time and again, India showed its baseless serious concerns about the CPEC strategic orientation and its completion would harm its “east-ward” policy especially with Central Asian Republics. Reportedly, it has already formed a special desk/unit in RAW to sabotage the CPEC which reconfirms New Delhi’s hostility towards the noble concept of greater commercial diplomacy. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s non-traditional foreign posturing and statements during so many international tours/forums and conferences is nothing but to damage Pakistan’s credibility and reliability on the war against terrorism seems to be well planned and calculated to harm the CPEC.

It is feared that its ongoing brutal state terrorism in occupied Kashmir and covert activities in Baluchistan would encircle Pakistan into danger zone of direct or indirect conflict in near future because of the ongoing successful work of the CPEC but thanks to armed forces of Pakistan which has formed a special unit to cater its various operations and implementations activities in the country.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been again strongly criticized by the USA. The top US diplomat for South Asia, Alice Wells, said that the CPEC heralded as a game-changer by both countries would profit only China and offered a better model of so-called economic development through sustainable partnership. But track record of Pak-US bilateral relations of the past refuted this claim.

Time and again, the US has been showing its anger about ongoing CPEC through different means. Now once again the US warned Pakistan that it faced long-term economic damage with little return if China keeps pursuing its giant infrastructure push in terms of the CPEC. She termed it one-sided economic dividend to China. She noted that the multibillion-dollar mega project was consisted mainly of non-concessionary loans with Chinese companies sending their own labour and material.

The US has already shown concern about CPEC which may produce serious dints of its South East & East Asia policies. Its “strategic military agreement” with India seems to be a long-term policy measure to counter the unlimited socio-economic benefits of the CPEC and China’s on ward march towards Central Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe.

Hot pursuits of energy security, sustainable transport systems, greater regional socio-economic connectivity and above all achieving of sustained peace and harmony in the region has tried to pollute the true essence of gigantic project CPEC. It is indeed a paradigm shift in the region which would also be a fate-changer due to its unlimited socio-economic benefits.

Pakistan and China have developed a closed liaison to start its second phase in the days to come. Emergence of regional great game will achieve nothing against the strong resolve of both countries in terms of CPEC.