CPEC, Regional Rapprochement & Global politics

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Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

EMERGING socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic trends favoured the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) development which got finalized a series of mega projects of hydropower generation (dams) and a special economic zone (SEZ) in the country.

The Government of Pakistan is now striving hard to finalize the “CPEC Authority Bill 2020” which will further empower the dedicated authority created last year. Being prominent regional expert on CPEC & BRI, I consider it a right step in the right direction which would remove all roadblocks and institutionalize hurdles in the easy and smooth sailing of its diversified ongoing projects and asset for its phase-II endeavours.

Regional “gambit” of economic strategic deal in terms of proposed China-Iran deal of US$400 billion and series of geostrategic “stratagem” i.e. China-India stand-off lit-up implementation process of the CPEC. Moreover, US-China economic war and ongoing fear of economic sanctions has also supported speedy forward looking execution of the CPEC.

A series of regional geopolitical “balancing acts” have enhanced mutual realization between China and Pakistan due to which the CPEC got “momentum”. It seems that policy makers of the two countries have decided to mitigate spillover repercussions dissemination of the Western deception, collateral damage of COVID-19 glitch and last but not the least, revisiting of existing formation/composition of the CPEC projects by turning into a befitting proposition for both the countries.

Transit consignment of bulk cargo via “Gwadar” to Afghanistan started and several consignments are in line for coming days which is indeed a “milestone” under framework of the CPEC. Being prominent regional expert of CPEC & BRI, I value it as “giant-step” towards enhancing strategic scope and utility of the CPEC which would definitely enhance its greater connectivity with Central Asian States in the days to come.

China-Iran proposed strategic deal stunted India and shocked the US as well. It would be a strategic disaster for both the counties in the days to come. It would open new vista of regional cooperation and brightening of regional energy connectivity. Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan immediately showed his country’s keen interest in the CPEC. Indian depletion from Chabahar Port has also widened scope of Gwadar seaport, a premier project under the framework of CPEC.

US-China series of ongoing war of economic sanctions and trade disputes brightened the chances of seeking greater Chinese private investment in the ongoing mega projects of the CPEC, especially in its phase-II mainly in agro-economy, social development, development of special economic zones (SEZs) and massive industrialization.

Moreover, regional realignments and the changing dynamics in the Arab Gulf, West and South Asia may also work in Pakistan’s favour. The ongoing oil shock in the international market and emerging realization of peaceful co-existence in the MENA seem to be a grand-opening for Pakistan and its mega project CPEC. Many regional countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Iran have shown interest in joining the CPEC.

Iran has been under severer US various socio-economic sanctions has now drifted closer to China. The Afghan peace process is inching towards its completion despite minor setbacks. The pandemic and border tension with China have produced serious dints to Indian “hegemonic” designs which has now substantially reduced India’s capacity and plans of regional “supremacy” to irritate Pakistan. All these inter-related regional developments and global power politics are said to be supportive and beneficial for CPEC progress.

Despite ill will of the US, hostile designs of the regional countries and drastic new political landscape (PTI) in the country could not change the pace, composition, scope, commitment and levels of promises/pledges of the Chinese government towards the CPEC. The first phase of the CPEC was designed to close the logistic and energy deficits in Pakistan that blunted development efforts. Many projects of the first phase have now been completed and the rest are in different stages of development.

CPEC’s phase-II consists of industrial, trade and social development sectors, involving a greater participation of the private sector and civil society organisations in both the countries. For the first time “innovative” financial modelling, economic evaluation mechanism, maintenance methodologies and last but not the least operational schemes have now been rigorously incorporated in the finalization and signing of various meaningful MOUs in different sectors especially in hydropower generation and formation of (SEZs).

Some quarters and so-called intellectual “junta” in our own country are pessimistic about the speed, scope and execution of the CPEC for various complex and complicated reasons. Some have allegedly connections with the western NGOs and policy centres and others are unfortunately, easy prey to “glitter” of financial bounties which is the prime example of intellectual “dishonesty” and sway of self-defined “egos” over patriot “echoes”. Their assumption and modelling of financial assessments are factually incorrect.

There is now renewed robustness in CPEC with two new hydel projects announced in Azad Kashmir. Ongoing diversified but integrated development activities in Gwadar Port under umbrella of the CPEC has actually further strengthened national blue economy of the country.

Gwadar Port is the “jewel” of CPEC which has already “jelled” economic development of Balochistan. It has further brightened socio-economic and geostrategic prospects of Balochistan and its natives alike. Its development is “transformative” for all Balochistan.

The Government of Pakistan tried its best to highlight unmatched financial and economic bounties of the CPEC to politicians and people of Balochistan due to which serious doubts of Baloch militias stem now from suspicions. On its part, Chinese Government also succeeded in connecting with politicians and NGOs of Balochistan and won hearts and souls of its real owners i.e. people as well.

Being prominent regional expert of CPEC & BRI, I suggest that both countries should realize the power of “intellect” and do not waste their energies in the “tug” of war because projection of national narratives is not highlighted with borrowed ideas and faulty schemes. Centre for Global & Strategic Studies, Islamabad may be a “value-addition” in the CPEC’s Phase-II persuasions because of its diversified but integrated genuine expertise in human capital and Euro-Asia region. It has been tirelessly working hard to disseminate blessings of the CPEC among the policy makers, intellectuals, researchers, investors and businessmen. It has an “immaculate conception” towards China, CPEC and of course BRI.

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