ISSN 2330-717X

Strategic Depth Of CPEC – OpEd

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China and Pakistan, the iron bothers, are celebrating 72 years of their diplomatic relations this year. During all these years, the two countries helped each other and consolidated the friendship up to the mark of “strategic partnership” in diverse sectors of economy, investment, joint venture, industrialization, agriculture, infrastructure development, energy, defence production and, above all, people-to-people contact. That is why, the change of government in Pakistan does not bring any deviation in our foreign policy towards China, the iron-clad friend. Rather, it will further enhance bilateral relations and resolve all pending issues pertaining to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  In this connection, new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif commonly known as “Mr. Speed” will further strengthen “pace”, “utility” and “strategic importance” of the CPEC projects in the country.

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In this regard, Premier Sharif has already advised all stakeholders to remove all barriers in the early completion of the CPEC projects through “integrated mechanism” of policy streamlining, swift approval, allocation of funds, perfect “security arrangements” and smooth sailing of public-private partnership in the country. It seems that sincere efforts are now being made to give some momentum to the projects of CPEC in the country. In this regard, the role of Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal is “commendable” who is striving hard to streamline the implementation of CPEC projects in the country.

Nevertheless, the genie of geopolitics has been pursuing dirty power politics in the region which has already disturbed the chances of greater regional connectivity and immense socio-economic prosperity. India’s ridiculous concern about the CPEC has been further converted into an invisible 5th generation hybrid war against Pakistan and, of course, CPEC. The recent attacks against Chinese teachers and workers attached to CPEC projects vividly reflect “holy alliance” among the enemies of development, progress, prosperity and peace in the region.

The incumbent government in the country has already taken all possible measures and policy decisions to plug in flaws in the security system in order to provide perfect security protection to all Chinese citizens and workers, working in the ongoing projects of the CPEC. Unfortunately, somehow there have been some serious issues regarding the upholding and “dissemination” of “national narrative” towards utility and importance of the CPEC projects in the country in which puppetry journalists, pseudo intellectuals and fake economists have played detrimental role. Furthermore, the Western sponsors and schemers have been approaching to our journalists, opinion makers, so-called regional experts and think-tanks to write against “sagacity” of the CPEC. Its pouring of lavish funds has tried to label the CPEC as a porous entity.

The “BBC” and “VOA” have indulged into blame game by exceeding even basic norms of “impartiality”, “transparency” and equal right to respond. Both international media outlets have been busy defaming the projects of the CPEC through fake news, planted interviews, borrowed ideas and last but not the least, connecting ironies of domestic politics and unrest with the so-called exploitation of China and CPEC especially in Balochistan and Gwadar. They are not the merchants of development and decency rather they are proponents of destruction and derbies.

However, thanks to the strategic partnership of Pakistan and China that despite constant propaganda of the West and domestic support of the liberals, the projects of CPEC have been executed and completed. To rectify these irritants, there is an urgent need to form a genuine Pak-China Media Forum to mitigate false, fake and fictional propaganda of the western lobbies against CPEC. There is an urgent need to form a genuine forum of regional experts to safeguard the vested interests of both countries and their national narratives in the country.

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In this regard, the Centre for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad would be an ideal choice. Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said the country would further strengthen relations with its strategic partner China to boost the economic development of Pakistan. Addressing a conference organised by the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), the Minister said China brought investment to Pakistan in the hardest of times under the framework of the CPEC, a flagship project of its Belt and Road Initiative. He was of the view that “when no one in the world was ready to invest even a single penny in Pakistan, China came forward and made investment worth billions of dollars under CPEC, bringing socio-economic development for the country”.

Iqbal said Pakistan is taking special measures to make the most of CPEC, adding that the pace of work on the CPEC projects is being accelerated for their early implementation. He highly appreciated China’s model of economic development, and said the achievements made by China over the last few decades are extremely remarkable and Pakistan should learn from them. He suggested that Pakistan needed to maintain political stability, continuity of policies and rule of law to complete projects of the CPEC in the country. 

In this context, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said that the Karot hydropower project, being completed under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, will meet electricity needs of around five million local residents, improve Pakistan’s energy structure and boost sustainable development. He said that the Karot hydropower plant on the Jhelum River is a major energy cooperation project between China and Pakistan. He said that once all units are installed and put into operation, the project will start generation of steady and affordable 720 megawatt energy. Zhao Lijian said that the hydropower plant is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by around 3.5 million tons per year which would make a new contribution to the global response to climate change. Thus completion of Karot hydropower plant is a defining moment in the strategic partnership of both countries.

To conclude, both sides should seriously initiate specific policies and projects to tackle the looming threats of energy & food security, innovate solutions to increasing climate change incidents by launching numerous green projects in the ongoing or CPEC Phase-II projects, agriculture revolution through hybrid cropping techniques, public transport systems through public-private partnership, financial integration through swapping of national currencies on reciprocal basis and persuasion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies through transfer of technology apparatus. Moreover, due to depleting water resources in the country, special projects may also be included and implemented on water conservation technologies in the CPEC projects. Multiple tasking projects in science & technology, agriculture drones, tea, rice, wheat and other cash crops may also be included in the CPEC Phase-II. Furthermore, COVID-19 has already exposed serious flaws in the health capacity building system in the country which urgently needs to be included in the CPEC Phase-II.

The writer is Islamabad based expert of South Asia

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