Pak China Economic Corridor – A Real Game Changer

By Mansoor Ali Khan.

The end of Cold War had resulted in the end of previous decades of superpower rivalry. There was no longer the “traditional” Socialism Vs Capitalism conflict. But America’s victory in the Cold War in 1989 couldn’t assure the world’s peace.  9/11 was a huge debacle which forced US to get into a new role that it later played in international politics. US put all in energies in a so called war on terror and opened many fronts in Afghanistan and Middle East.

It seems as if this world will not remain unipolar for long. China seems to be a potential superpower due to its large area and population, growing economy and geo-economic strategies and large military spending. One of those Geo-economic strategies is Pak-China Economic corridor. The USD 46 billion investment makes China the top most foreign investor in Pakistan. It is a collection of different projects but the major tangible outcome is 3500 km long route which will connect Gawadar port to China. It is a planned network of three major routes which have been named as Eastern, Western and Central Routes.

Western route originating from Gwadar will pass through Turbat, Panjgur, Naag, Basima, Sohrab, Kalat, Quetta, Qila Saifullah, Zhob DIK, Mianwali, Hasanabdal and Islamabad.

Central route will originate from Gwadar, Quetta, and reach DI Khan via Basima, Khuzdar, Sukkar, Rajanpur, Liya, Muzaffargarh and Bhakkar.

Eastern route will include Gwadar, Basima, Khuzdar, Sukkar, Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Multan, Lahore, Faisalbad, Islamabad and Mansehra. The three routes will ultimately meet at Hassan Abdal via Burhan interchange and then reach China through Kashghar.

Corridor Map

Despite of its strategic and economic importance which is acclaimed unanimously, there are few objections which have been raised by different opposition parties. A major objection on the CPEC is the lack of transparency. The critics complain that nobody except the federal government knows the real plan. Another concern which has been raised by three provinces is the traditional hegemony of Punjab. They believe Central Punjab will be the ultimate beneficiary of this economic exercise. There has been a couple of APCs to satisfy those concerns, but some voices are still there complaining the lack of transparency and dubious behavior of the federal government. It is high time for PML-N to take the issue seriously, erase those concerns and do not let this ‘Game Changer’ to become another “Kala Bagh Dam”.

The project has caused an alarming situation for other actors of South Asian region. India had already raised its concerns by taking the plea of disputed nature of Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. The objections to CPEC are also a reflection of the deteriorating ties between India and Pakistan in the larger context.

Conference_02

Prime MinisterNawaz Sharif at the All Parties Conference on China Pak Economic Corridor at PM House.

Pakistan believes that India has perceived Gwadar seaport turning into China’s naval base in the Indian Ocean, enabling Beijing to monitor Indian and American naval activities, thus frustrating American ambitions to see India a regional power, enabling Delhi to monitor the Chinese activities in the region. India’s position will be more vulnerable if Gawadar ports get operational.

Indian concerns have forced Pakistan to assure the security of this project. Pakistani establishment sees security threats which may destabilize its continuity, but its top priority should be to avoid controversies within the country. For this purpose CPEC needs to be extended to whole Pakistan covering energy, infrastructure, transportation and industrial capacity building.  It would further integrate and strengthen the relations between Pakistan & China. It will be a game changer and bring economic prosperity to more than one country in the region.

Writer is a Current Affairs Producer with a News Channel based in Islamabad.

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