China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Strategic Rationale for Pakistan

The (CPEC) is a $62 billion connectivity project envisioned to stretch from the western Chinese city of Kashgar to Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, located near Iran and Persian Gulf shipping lanes. It is a framework of regional connectivity. It is intended benefits are not just limited to China and Pakistan, but have far-reaching positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics, and the region at large. The improved infrastructure projects like road, rail and air transportation system will ensure a smooth and secure regional connectivity thus generating the much needed regular and uninterrupted exchanges of goods, people to people contact, and businesses. CPEC is a journey towards economic regionalization in the globalized world.

CPEC is harbinger of a better future in terms of regional development, peace and economic growth. The CPEC related projects would be implemented in   four stages. The Early Harvest Program largely includes up gradation of connectivity infrastructure and energy sector which are already completed or expected to be completed in the short term. During this phase, approximately 7000 MW electricity has been added to the national grid thereby reducing the shortfall of electricity that had stymied industrial growth and exports.

The remaining short term projects are likely to be completed by 2022, these mainly comprising of roads, development of Gwadar port and region, Optical fiber network and the Hydel and coal power projects. The medium term projects which include railways and industrial zones are expected to be completed by 2025. Long term projects are expected to be completed by 2030, where industrial zones, agriculture, tourism etc. will be completed.

Pakistan has been playing a significant role in the South Asian politics. After the completion of CPEC; the economic, commercial as well as the larger geostrategic environment is likely to be improved. It is expected to help Pakistan in dealing with the problems of poverty, unemployment, inflation and reducing the prevailing inequalities in and among its constituents units. In a meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping, President Mamnoon Hussain stated that the CPEC would prove to be a game-changer in the whole region by generating massive trade and economic activity and opening new avenues of progress and prosperity for the people of the two countries in particular and for about three billion people of the region in general.

CPEC will prove to be a game changer and will make China a real stakeholder in ensuring Pakistan’s stability and economic security. The multiple opportunities that CPEC will likely spawn over the period of time truly makes it a win-win bargain for both. It will greatly expand the scope for sustainable economic development of China. Not only this, the investments by China are going to boost Pakistan’s $274 billion GDP by over 15%. The subsequent progress and prosperity in Pakistan and China’s increased investment will help Pakistan in improving its global standing by projecting itself as an economic hub.

Pakistan enjoys a more favorable fiscal situation as compared to India through a reduction in its budget deficit to 4.7% of GDP in 2014 (India’s 7%). Moreover, Pakistan is both competitive and cheaper as an emerging market. So, China’s economic assistance will help Pakistan a great deal in narrowing its widening gap against India and in improving its economic growth.

CPEC will prove to be a game changer and will make China a real stakeholder in ensuring Pakistan’s stability and economic security. The multiple opportunities that CPEC will likely spawn over the period of time truly makes it a win-win bargain for both. It will greatly expand the scope for sustainable economic development of China.

Fortunately, CPEC will help Pakistan get rid of the prevalent energy crises and revitalize industrialization Energy availability in the country will revive, industries such as the textile production adding an estimated 2 % to Pakistan’s GDP growth. The development of roads, ports and highways is yet another important segment of CPEC. The project is intended to add to Pakistan’s infrastructural connectivity in Asia, Europe Asia and Africa step by step and will remove all investment and trade barriers for the creation of a sound business environment within the region and beyond.

CPEC is likely to help in creating a robust and stable base for economic development in Pakistan. It will also help achieve the confidence of partner states in Pakistan’s bright economic future thereby removing any psychological barriers in the way of foreign investment.

Furthermore, CPEC is considered the crown jewel in the new Pakistan’s economic paradigm because it provides Pakistan with a golden opportunity to act independently of the western influence, especially of the US which has a history of engaging in frequent coercive diplomacy with Pakistan. The project is also in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for Pakistan to shift from geopolitics to geo-economics. CPEC will also bring an opportunity for Pakistan to normalize ties with its neighbors so as to keep balance, strengthen prospects for regional peace and improve socio-economic status of the people of the region.

CPEC is a game changer project which will lift millions of Pakistanis out of poverty. The project comprises of developing textile industries, industrial parks, construction of dams, installation of nuclear reactors and creating networks of road, railway line which will generate employment. Almost sixty-one fully equipped hospitals, technical and vocational training institutes, water supply and distribution facilities in undeveloped areas will also improve the quality of life of people.

Keeping in view the post-pandemic dynamics of the world, it is important that all political parties in Pakistan and regional governments should express full support and benefit from the implementation of CPEC. They should be united in their commitment to resolve long standing political differences. . The government and the federating units should work jointly for the commercial, economic and cultural development as well as peaceful environment in the country. The government should ensure transparency and openness in sharing the details of the progress on CPEC projects with all the political parties and stakeholders. It should be keen in debating the benefits and challenges of this multi-dollar project within the parliament. The government should ensure the safety and security of foreigners working on different projects of CPEC. Moreover, the working on the projects should not be delayed because it can provide space to the hostile elements to create hurdles in the smooth functioning of the project.

The game changer, China Pakistan Economic Corridor will incorporate a 2,000-kilometer transport link between Kashgar in the far west of China to the Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea at the mouth of Persian Gulf. Once this corridor is completed, oil from the Middle East could be loaded off at Gwadar, which is located just outside the mouth of the Persian Gulf, and transported to China through Balochistan. There are many challenges for Pakistan in implementing this project. However, the future of the country and the region depends on the timely completion and full realization of the potential of CPEC. The corridor will not only increase Pakistan’s economic and political clout but also enhance people to people cooperation across the region.

CPEC will prove to be a game changer and will make China a real stakeholder in ensuring Pakistan’s stability and economic security. The multiple opportunities that CPEC will likely spawn over the period of time truly makes it a win-win bargain for both. It will greatly expand the scope for sustainable economic development of China.

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About Usama Faiz 1 Article
Usama Faiz is a graduate of National Defence University. He has previously worked at the Institute for Strategic Studies, Research and Analysis (ISSRA). His areas of interest are International Relations, Great Power Politics and South Asian strategic issues.