Future probabilities, CPEC and Pakistan

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Naveed Aman Khan

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not a single road, it’s a network. It will spur the growth of industrial zones supported by energy plants, connecting Kashgar to Gwadar. Balochistan should be the primary beneficiary of the project. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Sindh and Punjab will also benefit from it equally as there’s no discrimination against any province. National security underlines important matters like ideology of Pakistan, sovereignty, territorial integrity, social and economic development and strength of democracy. National security is human security, a synthesis of aspirations and intentions of the people of Pakistan where people are the centre. National security depends upon internal and external environments. Internal factors as terrorism remained an immediate and existential threat while extremism, ethnic and religious violence, insurgency in some parts of the country and syndicates of transnational and regional crimes too derailed development in the country. India and Israel had never accepted Pakistan. Elements within Pakistan who either had not endorsed its ideology as conceived pre-1947 or desired a different interpretation of it. The latter included violent extremists as well as ultra liberals. Sovereignty also remained under threat, from time to time. Neighbouring countries like India and Afghanistan have been creating serious obstacles in the way of development of CPEC. Volatility along the Line of Control (LoC) was an issue. Jammu & Kashmir is a disputed territory and India and Pakistan have different opinions on it. There is conventional asymmetry between India and Pakistan but Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent is effective. Iran a conundrum as there was a simmering down when it came to the nuclear issue, but heating up vis-à-vis Yemen. Operation Zarb-i-Azb has succeeded because security forces have been taking on extremists throughout the country. However, initially the success remained partial but now ultimately security forces have controlled the situation. Democracy and democratic institutions are yet to take strong roots. 

Pakistan’s relations with China are strengthening and referring to the ‘One Belt One Road’ project a grand plan. Between the two nations economic ties are as important as political and diplomatic. Pakistan-China friendship is higher than mountains and sweeter than the sweetest honey. Economic and political transactions are most important components of this unprecedented friendship. CPEC has successfully started functioning and Pakistanis should get themselves prepared for it. It is a win win partnership between Pakistan and China. In order to remove other nations’ misgivings, we want to steer nations away from competition to cooperation. The Corridor is not one road but a network which would enhance Pakistan’s capacity in different sectors of development. It would have a profound impact on the economic growth of Pakistan. To Pakistan it is a destination and a pathway for many services.

Since 1971, Pakistan has made many overtures to India most of which have gone wasted. By and large, Pakistan has been proactive but India has never wanted Kashmir as an item on the negotiation table. Indian impression remained that Pakistan was guilty. Hypothesizing, even if Pakistan capitulates on Kashmir, India’s hostility would remain. Indian Premier Narendra Modi will continue with his aggressive posture against all his neighbours especially Pakistan. Pakistan should deal with India with dignity. Pakistan doesn’t need to go back on Kashmir even if India is reluctant or evasive about it. Because of geographical location of Kashmir and natural route of the CPEC, India has always been propagating negatively against this worthy project. India throughout tried its utmost to sabotage this multidimensional gigantic project of diverse significance. Pakistan-Afghanistan relations have recently entered a new phase. Pakistan reciprocated President Ashraf Ghani’s warm gestures, making a fresh beginning because now there were no good or bad ‘Taliban’ anymore in Afghanistan. Now they are acknowledged as one of the stakeholders of the country as political power. Afghanistan government and its dimensions about CPEC are changing positively and rapidly. Perhaps Afghanistan has realized the significance of CPEC. Afghanistan has felt that if they didn’t benefit from CPEC they will be in deep economic crisis in future. They have welcomed the economic offers of China and Pakistan. Afghanistan’s economic interest in CPEC will definitely minimize sabotaging probabilities of the project. Recently,  probabilities of  inclusion of the United Arab Emirates and Turkey in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has given us a new dawn of save and strong economic future of Pakistan. Unprecedented successes of defence forces of Pakistan against terrorists in Waziristan and Karachi have paved the way of progress and prosperity in the country. Terrorists either have been killed or fled away from the country. Fencing on Pakistan- Afghanistan border has also played pivotal role in controlling terrorism in Pakistan.   

Iran has parallel Chabahar Port in the waters very close to Gwadar. Recently, Iran has handed over operational control of Chabahar Port to India. It is a matter of deep concern for Pakistan. Chabahar Port is part of Iran not India. If Iran runs and controls its operational matters itself, Pakistan will have no objection. But Indian involvement in Chabahar, up to such extent, is a matter of worry for Pakistan. Iran is our neighboring Muslim brotherly country and we enjoy long time comfortable bilateral relationship with her but enhanced role of India very close to Gwadar Port has alerted Pakistan. The positive economic indicators from Afghanistan, UAE and Turkey are suggestive of a good time for Pakistan. Because of the CPEC, confidence of the world in Pakistan’s economy has grown. It has a geo-strategic importance, operations Zarb-i-Azb is and RaddulFasaad have been succeeding which has made a major difference and democracy is taking root. Terrorism should be eliminated from society first after which efforts should be made for economic growth. In its opinion, it could happen simultaneously. It’s not a single road or one link but a network; an access was being developed which would cause a mushroom growth of industrial zones, connecting Kashgar to Gwadar. Some would be early harvest projects while others would reap dividends later. It is a millstone around our neck. We should have invested here far earlier. It’s our prerogative to pursue a balanced foreign policy in the region.

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