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Global dynamics of CPEC

Of all the countries, India has the singular distinction of voicing concerns about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and has been vocal since CPEC’s very inception. The reason cited by India is that CPEC passes through disputed territory, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB).

China and Pakistan have rejected this assumption of India while the rest of the countries as well as the United Nations have ignored this plea of India as superfluous.

Lately, the US raised some objections on CPEC on the assumption that some part of the project runs through the internationally disputed territory of Kashmir.

The fact remains that no part of CPEC runs through Indian-occupied Kashmir or Pakistan-administered Kashmir. How far is the US concerned about it is questionable. Realistically, it is more of a diplomatic move as the US had never raised any objections since CPEC’s inception. The US truly recognizes that prosperity in the region will wipe out terrorism. The US has itself been providing funds to Pakistan for the purpose.

This distortion, bracketing GB with Kashmir, is unacceptable because Kashmir is internationally recognized as disputed territory and the UN itself recognizes it as a dispute to be resolved by allowing the population to exercise their right of self-determination through a plebiscite – which has been denied to-date. GB has none of these strings attached to it.

It sounds out of place that while the global community and the UN have failed to provide relief to the miseries and suffering of the people of Kashmir for seven decades, there are some voices against the people of GB the right to prosperity, better education, healthcare and well-being. This attitude is against humanity. Those who want to block the well-being of the people are incapable of finding solution to a recognized dispute. These voices would do well if, instead, they concentrated on resolving the dispute and help bring these unfortunate people into the mainstream of social integration, rather than attempting to block them.

The CPEC has come to stay and has progressed too far to be derailed. The stakes of China and Pakistan are high and too much has been invested in time and money.

It is understandable that CPEC, going from one end of Pakistan to another, much of it in the proximity of India’s long border with Pakistan, is unnerving India. This is perceived by India as a blockade to their land entry into Afghanistan and Iran. Further, Gwadar port’s existence on the Persian Gulf, with a clear view of the Indian Ocean, limits the supremacy of India in that area of growing importance.

The CPEC is of strategic importance to China and Pakistan, and above that it is of economic value to Pakistan in particular and South-East Asia in general. The CPEC comes under China’s One Belt One Road vision for the prosperity, connectivity and globalization of trade, culture and social integration of the people of the world.

At the One Belt One Road mega opening in May 2017 in Beijing, participated by global political and business leaders from all corners of the world, President Xi of China invited all countries to be part of this mission. Numerous countries from west to east and south to north have pledged their support to the vision and be part of this global initiative of integration and globalization of trade and businesses.

For Pakistan, on the economic front, the CPEC means better connectivity through road networks and better accessibility to markets and people who so far are denied economic and social progress, healthcare, education and civic amenities and facilities. For Pakistan, it means enhancement of its power generation and transmission capacity, oil and gas production, the capacity to meet its growing energy needs through new power plants. It means enhancement of its water storage resources and capacity through construction of dams and water reservoirs to support the agricultural growth of Pakistan.

Over 20 Special Economic Zones being established under CPEC, and they are meant to spur the growth of industry to provide employment and skills to the people. The upgrading of rail and rapid urban transportation are meant to provide decent and time effective mobility to the people.

The CPEC is largely perceived to be China-centric and Pakistan-centric. It is true to the extent that a large part of development is under this regime for the reason that the Eximp Bank of China has pledged over $45 billion under project financing to kick-start the economic activities in Pakistan.

But all the infrastructure being developed in Pakistan under the CPEC is paid for by the government of Pakistan and is the asset of Pakistan and is available to all local and foreign investors to benefit from.

The CPEC is a catalyst for all investors. After an initial limbo and apprehensions, many of the foreign investors have recognized its potential and are once again looking at Pakistan with interest as a market.

The CPEC is an opportunity for Pakistan and the countries in its proximity and all must look at it with an open mind and welcome it with a warm heart.

(The writer is former President of Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry) 

Farhat Ali, "Global dynamics of CPEC," Business Recorder. 2017-11-11.
Keywords: Social sciences , Social issues , Social development , Power plants , Overseas Investors , Economic zone , Gwadar port , United Nations , Pakistan , Kashmir , India , CPEC