Under the canopy of globalisation, everything gets interconnected and is mingled, depicting the true sense of talk of the town jargon, globalisation. No doubt with the connectivity of many factors there are clashes between the imperatives. But censuring one factor solely responsible for fall of certain venture before its immense boom is just a mere postulation. Same goes for the much created hype about CPEC, which is going to be a corridor of opportunities and lucky charm for Pakistan.
In case of development project going on with the name of CPEC, a 46 billion dollar investment by China in Pakistan, one must not forget that this project once accomplished will give Pakistan an exceptional position in globalised world. There is a dire need to understand what this CPEC is going to bring in for Pakistan. No doubt concerns on such massive project are logical and need to be answered wisely and timely but one must not forget that if Pakistan is giving China a place for investment, in return this project will vastly benefit Pakistan with many opportunities in developmental sector including economic elevation, job opportunities, training of skilled labour, splendid infrastructure etc. This CPEC project which is now termed as “Game Changer” is a comprehensive development programme that requires the linking of Gwadar Port to China’s north-western region of Xinjiang through highways, railways, oil and gas pipelines, and an optical fibre link. While the project offers enormous opportunities to Pakistan such as economic prosperity, socio-economic uplift of general population and under developed areas, there are also few challenges attached to it. Therefore, now it’s important that the government of Pakistan should adopt prudent and far-sighted policies and strategies to accumulate maximum benefits and prove to its adversaries that they are wrongly perceived about CPEC, particularly the apprehensions of people of Balochistan province must be addressed.
Be it by creating difference of opinion among the political parties on the routes connecting to CPEC and making them fight on the share of provinces or be it raising security concerns time and again that Chinese engineers working in Pakistan are not safe, provinces will be denied of their due shares, raising serious objections on usage of funds given by China and hence this project will be smashed and turn into a complete failure are just suppositions. Foes of Pakistan, whether double agent nationals or foreign turncoats they are always busy in plotting about Pakistan and its developmental projects.
CPEC is an economic project having strategic outlook for the wellbeing of lesser developed areas. It would create a link between adjoining countries as well as other regions to facilitate the trade activity. Resultantly, the region is expected to witness an economic bang with multifaceted benefits to the surrounding countries in general and Pakistan in particular. Gwadar plays a key role in CPEC and in next 4-5 decades it would surpass Karachi in socio-economic development, thus offering multiple employment opportunities to the people of Balochistan. Development of Gwadar port will not only bring prosperity to local economy and eradicate the social imbalance but will enable Balochistan to compete with other provinces in economic and social development. Claims by saying that CPEC will deprive Balochistan youth from job and they will remain unemployed is wrong as this huge project has already given job opportunities to locals. In this context, some of the political and social activists while viewing CPEC myopically are polluting minds and hearts of innocent masses by beating the drums of provincialism. They think that the provinces are being deprived of the development and employment opportunities the CPEC will bring with it.
Attaching the stigma of security threat is also wrong as no doubt country is facing security challenges but has come a long way to counter such hostile elements. Security threat for CPEC project emanate from extremist militancy, nationalist insurgency and criminal violence along the route of CPEC. Nevertheless, Pakistan has requisite capacity and adequate security infrastructure to deal amicably with such challenges. Pakistan has already proven her capacity and resolve in countering such threats under Operation “Zarb-e-Azb” which has been applauded worldwide. The said operation has flushed out the extremists from Pak soil besides substantially weakening China specific ETIM.
Surely, CPEC will greatly inherit the benefits as well as the dividends from the overall Chinese dream. This plan envisions Pakistan’s socio-economic development through a stabilised GDP, improved FDI flows, export promotion, poverty alleviation, generation of employment and skilled labour force. However, in order to fully reap these benefits, the government of Pakistan will have to take account of challenges in order to make corridor of friendship meaningful. Being taking it as a national responsibility, our mainstream political parties and their leadership and people of Pakistan should take lead role in proving that CPEC is a God gifted opportunity for prosperity and welfare of Pakistan and it will surely be a definite success.
Realistically speaking we Pakistanis must acknowledge this fact that this CPEC is for Pakistan and if we keep on arguing about the single inch of road constructed under the project falls in the domain of which province and whether the funds allotted for this project are used fraudulently, we are going to lose this corridor of opportunities with our hands because of internal differences.
Let not military be dragged among differences of political parties, as its task is to defend borders of a country, not to run state affairs. No doubt military can bring change by using soft power as asked by some of political leaders but this soft power should be used by political representatives to win hearts and minds of public. Intervention through force and power will flare up matters instead of finding solutions. First and foremost aim is that we all should be sincere to our own selves and country and resolve minor issues based on mutual trust. Only then we can achieve what we want from CPEC or any of developmental project in Pakistan. This corridor demands sincerity with each other than culpability of secrecy and swindler. Let this corridor see the doom and prove an emblem of Pakistan’s sincerity to its own people and China’s trust on people of Pakistan.
The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies