CPEC’s pre-eminence

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In the backdrop of unending rumours that Pakistan has adopted a policy of go slow on projects under the umbrella of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the expression of resolve by Prime Minister Imran Khan to complete the Corridor at all costs and that it would continue to take pre-eminence in our development strategy is reassuring and reflects true aspirations of people of Pakistan.

Chairing a high level meeting to review progress on CPEC, he expressed satisfaction at the pace of ongoing projects.

There can be no two opinions that the CPEC, the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has the potential to accelerate all-encompassing socio-economic development in the country as available evidence suggests it has already contributed to resolution of some of the most worrying challenges of Pakistan – chronic energy shortages and lack of infrastructure especially in the backward areas.

As Pakistan is facing financial constraints, it was next to impossible for any government to arrange funds for a modern rail and road network, industrialisation and modernisation of agriculture – lofty goals that the CPEC is intended to achieve.

Under transfer of knowledge initiative, experts from both sides exchange expertise in industrial, rural and urban development, job creation & SMEs, water resources management and treatment as well as agriculture uplift.

It is because of huge size of the projects and their wide-ranging impact on national economy that makes the CPEC a historic opportunity to address socio-economic challenges of the country, improve standard of living of the people, create employment opportunities and create world-class infrastructure to promote regional connectivity and trade.

There is, therefore, every reason not just to continue all projects already initiated under CPEC but include more in its framework given Chinese willingness to provide unlimited funding.

There are, of course, some vested interests and multilateral institutions that keep on pressurising Pakistan on the issue of cooperation with China under CPEC highlighting unfounded concerns regarding phenomenal increase in country’s debt burden (supposedly due to CPEC) but our leadership must base its policies and decisions on national interests alone.

Propaganda notwithstanding no other country is willing to make as much investment as China is making to alleviate sufferings of the people of Pakistan and to create facilities that would take the country to the next phase of progress and development.

It is encouraging that instead of falling into the trap of these vested interests, the Prime Minister has come to the conclusion that our policies would be focused on export-oriented and import substitution industrialisation besides imparting of latest training and skill to youth so that they could take up jobs being created by CPEC projects and initiatives.

We hope that government would remove all hurdles in the way of full exploitation of the CPEC initiative and ensure allocation of its share of funds so that all projects are completed expeditiously as some of them are already behind schedule.