The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a mega economic project, which is now an approximately $51.5 billion project. It is a part of One Belt, One Road project initiated by China to revive the ancient Silk Route. However, the two countries have signed 19 Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) which indicate that both are willing to boost cooperation in various fields including energy, industry, transportation and communication infrastructure. In addition, this project will provide China access to African, European and Middle Eastern markets through Gwadar Port. This multi-billion dollar project has opened doors for Pakistan to readjust its Geo-politics and Geo-economics options. Project is expected to complete in five to ten years.
There are also certain domestic and regional challenges to the CPEC. Some political parties have scruples with regard to the CPEC, therefore; they have protested. The National Awami Party is very particular with regard to the change of CPEC’s western route, which they say, would harm the Pakhtun and Baloch peoples’ interests. However, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong said, “Reports that he had told KPK Chief Minister Pervez Khattak the Western route was not included in the CPEC were UNTRUE.” In addition Chinese Deputy Head of Mission Zhao Lijian gave some details about the project.
It is pertinent to mention that CPEC is not an economic aid given to Pakistan; it is an investment in the shape of a concessional loan given by Chinese banks. Pakistani leadership, describes CPEC as a game changer for Pakistan, however the effects of the project would be realized after ten to fifteen years. Pakistan and China need to employ a multi-dimensional strategy encompassing both soft and hard work, and it is the need of the hour.