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June 7, 2015

‘Strong political will needed for success of CPEC’


June 7, 2015

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), while a highly worthwhile and vital project, faces big challenges, some of these being paucity of funds and arduous connectivity.
These views were expressed by Dr Azhar Ahmad, senior research fellow/adviser, Centre for International Strategic Studies, Islamabad.
He was addressing the members of the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA), the intellectuals, and the media at the institute on Friday evening.
“For this, there, first and foremost, has to be a strong political will. Besides, we have to overcome delays. We must bring locals on board and there will have to be meticulous planning and a road map,” he said.
“We must have a master plan for the whole corridor. This must extend over 40 years.”
Talking in the context of Gwadar, Ahmad said the Indian Ocean was a very important region because of its resources, and quoted noted geo-political analyst Robert Kaplan to the effect, “The India Ocean region will be the nexus of world powers and conflict in the coming years. It is here that the fight for democracy, energy independence and religious freedom will be lost or won.”
Gwadar, he said, was a flagship project. It was the most important on the silk route, it was the shortest route to the north Arabian Sea and western China, an area where China was currently putting in most of its money and investment, and it was an area that contained 32 percent of China’s population and 58 of the country’s area, he said. “The Indian Ocean region is very vital because of the resources and to safeguard these resources we have to safeguard the routes. Ports and choke points are very important in this case.
In fact, given its importance as regards concentration of resources, especially in weaker states, the roots of the latest Yemen conflict could also be traced to the Indian Ocean region.”
Talking about the benefits accruing to Gwadar under the Karachi-Gwadar

Trade Corridor (KGTC), the senior research fellow said Gwadar being at the tip of the north Arabian Sea was critical as regards connectivity to land and maritime routes as far as Central Asia.
Many countries of Central Asia, he said, were landlocked with a population of 65 million and poor infrastructure to bring about development, and Gwadar’s location was a feasible route for these countries to enhance their trade.
Commodore (Retd) Syed Obaidullah, member, Board of Directors, Bahria
Foundation, through a talk based on figure work and statistics, spoke of the Indo-Pacific Ocean region and dubbed it the super Maritime Region of the 21st Century.
The major layers in the region, he said, were the US, China and India. By 2030, he said, most energy would be coming from the region. China, he said, was heavily investing in Africa which also enhanced the vital nature of the region.
Vice-Admiral Iqbal F Quadir said the “sole superpower”, the US, now found itself challenged by China, Russia and India in the region. Gwadar, he said, assumed all the more importance in light of the proposed oil and gas pipelines planned to be interconnecting countries of the region.

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