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CPEC under PTI: Qureshi discusses progress on megaproject in China


News Analysis |

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan and expressed commitment of the current Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The foreign minister also expressed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s eagerness to attend the second Belt and Road Forum in China scheduled for next month. Furthermore, he once again acknowledged the traditional friendship which both Pakistan and China have enjoyed over the course of a decade, thanking Chinese vice president for aiding to ease the tensions followed by a recent skirmish between India and Pakistan.

Chinese vice president, on the other hand, expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far in the projects under the umbrella of the CPEC. Belt and Road is a brainchild of current Chinese President Xi Jinping who wants to connect China with rest of Asia and Europe via maritime routes and extensive ground infrastructure via a network of roads and railway lines.

It would not only create the requisite number of jobs for Pakistani youth but help establish the industrial base of the country which is a dire need given the precarious state of the national economy.

It has been called the Silk route of the 1st century because of the vast stretch of both continents it covers for the primary purpose of trade.

Rumours that Made Rounds

Soon after the PTI came into power, a rumor started to make rounds in the conventional as well as social media that the government wants to renew the arrangement under which the CPEC was initially kicked off.

General perception revolved around the view that the PTI leadership was not happy with the derivatives of megaproject heavily inclined towards the Chinese companies while Pakistan would be receiving a small share of the profit.

Read more: Pak-China cooperation strong at OBOR summit: What is India missing?

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s adviser for commerce, textiles, industry and investment Abdul Razzak Dawood gave an interview to Financial Times in which he was quoted as saying, “The previous government did a bad job negotiating with China on CPEC — they didn’t do their homework correctly and didn’t negotiate correctly so they gave away a lot.”

It came as a shock to China as it was a matter of billion of dollars for the Chinese if any decision of reviewing the CPEC arrangement was taken. Soon after, Abdul Razzak Dawood clarified that certain parts of his statement were taken out of context by the Financial Times and that Pakistan was not mulling to halt projects under the CPEC for any reason.

What Lies Ahead for Pakistan 

The idea behind generating revenue so far has centered around the transit which the CPEC routes would carry, including both via sea and land. Though it is still substantially a good expected sum, the experts have been saying that Pakistan needs to develop economic zones alongside the CPEC land routes to multiply its gains.

It is necessary to make sure that the CPEC is mutually beneficial in the long run for both Pakistan and China, for the partnership to continue the way it is and has ever been.

It would not only create the requisite number of jobs for Pakistani youth but help establish the industrial base of the country which is a dire need given the precarious state of the national economy. So far, Pakistan is working around the mediocre extent of all three major economic modes i.e. agricultural, industrial and services.

The policies are too sporadic to paint a clear picture as to how the policymakers are actually planning to take the country’s economy ahead and via which mode. But the decision should be made sooner rather later as the CPEC has a lot of untapped potential which can be utilized for creating jobs for Pakistanis.

Pakistan and China have further strengthened their strategic partnership via CPEC but there are also reservations over the way China conducts its business. These concerns are reinforced via the incidents such as the Chinese takeover of Sri Lankan Hambantota port for struggling to pay the debt.

Read more: Pakistan’s financial crisis puts OBOR in jeopardy

It is necessary to make sure that the CPEC is mutually beneficial in the long run for both Pakistan and China, for the partnership to continue the way it is and has ever been.