DELIVERING a speech at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad, Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Zhang Ming on Friday termed Pakistan’s geo-strategic ideal for connecting Central Asian countries with the sea routes, stressing that the transport corridors in the region stand to benefit all the member states of SCO, leading to a win-win cooperation.
The geo-strategic importance of Pakistan is a reality which nobody can deny. The very statement of the SCO Secretary General has also reminded us of the words of an American Political Scientist Stephen Philip Cohen, who in his book The Idea of Pakistan, says: “Whilst history has been unkind to Pakistan, its geography has been its greatest benefit.
” Absolutely geo-strategic importance plays a lot more than we actually think. As far as Pakistan is concerned it is situated at the doorway to the oil-rich countries of the Middle East and Central Asia and, therefore, it has great potential of becoming a transit economy.
However, unfortunately, our successive governments failed to correctly visualize the importance of its geographical location.
Therefore, it could not effectively sell the idea of transnational connectivity, and a cost-effective economic corridor for Russia, Afghanistan and the Central Asian States.
The launch of multibillion dollar CPEC under Belt and Road Initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has however provided an excellent opportunity to Pakistan to cash in on its geostrategic location.
Under the corridor, a state-of-the-art road infrastructure in the form of motorways has almost been completed which provides direct link to our ports, especially the Gwadar Port.
Now most recently, both Pakistan and China have also expressed interest to extend the CPEC to Afghanistan.
If this happens, it will go a long way in unleashing the trade and economic potential of this particular region.
Improving connectivity is the key which will bring the regional countries and their peoples closer to each other.
We are confident that under the leadership of Zhang Ming, the SCO will move forward on transport corridor or connectivity projects be it rail, road or air in order to achieve the true objectives of such regional platforms.
Connecting the landlocked Central Asian countries with Pakistani ports will accrue great economic gains and open the whole region for investors and entrepreneurs. Peace in Afghanistan is a must to realize this long cherished dream.