News Analysis |
The Central Development Working Party (CDWP) on Monday approved 34 projects worth Rs.365 billion under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Five projects out of these, worth Rs.333 billion, were referred to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC). The CDWP meeting was headed by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Sartaj Aziz according to a press release.
The projects presented at the meeting included energy, transport & communications, physical planning & housing, science & technology, information and technology, food and agriculture, industries & commerce, health and mass media projects. In energy sector, a project worth Rs. 2919.12 million was approved by CDWP. In transport and communications section, CDWP approved two projects.
They also approved projects including Airport Security Force Accommodation at New Islamabad airport and widening of Spera Ragha road from Khanozai Cross to Loralai and Killa Saifullah. In the hydraulic sector, two projects were approved by CDWP and one project of Diamer Basha Dam was referred to ECNEC for approval which is considered to be a lifeline for Pakistan, and will contribute majorly to control water scarcity in the country.
Aggression against Pakistan and China by the US might be an effort to sabotage CPEC, an attempt to kill two birds with one stone. If more foreign investors are attracted to CPEC, it would provide more security to the project as the number of stakeholders will increase.
Project named “Construction of J-Head Spur at RD 20000 & Guide Head Spur at RD 25000 Maggasson Branch, Muzaffarabad” worth Rs. 513.339 million and “Monitoring the Seawater intrusion along Sindh and Balochistan” worth Rs. 650.056 million was approved by the CDWP. In Physical Planning & Housing section, four projects were approved by CDWP.
These include ‘construction of five police barracks block (each for 100 men) in Islamabad’, ‘construction of admin block quarters, guard, barracks and horse stable and parade ground in Diplomatic Enclave Islamabad’,’ land acquisition and site development for PIDE for constructing new campus and construction of judicial and Admin complex in Islamabad’. The total cost of these projects will be Rs.4734 million. In Science and Technology sector, 9 projects were approved by CDWP.
The total worth of these projects is Rs.12177 million. These include: Uplifting of Academic and Infrastructure facilities at Hazara University, establishment of Engineering faculty at Karakorum International University, Pak-Sri Lanka Higher Education Program, International Law Graduate Scholarship for Balochistan, Prime Minister Electric Wheel Chair Scheme for university students, and Establishment of Technical Training Centre for Precession Mechanics and instrument technology.
In the Education sector, two projects were approved. The total cost of which was Rs.3487 million. The projects included provision of quality education to the students of Balochistan in FATA and construction of primary section at GDA school in Gwadar. In the Health sector, two projects of worth Rs.820 million were approved. The projects were Up Gradation of Health Facilities as CGH RWP by making all departments Functional and purchase of electro medical equipment for newly constructed 200 bed hospital for Pak Rangers Punjab.
In Mass Media section, three projects of worth Rs. 639 were approved by the CDWP. The approved projects included construction of boxing gymnasium at Karachi , construction of gymnasium at Quetta , modernisation of camera and production equipment of PTV. In Information technology sector, two projects of worth Rs. 1418million were approved by the CDWP.
The approved projects are National Response Centre for Cyber Crime (Phase 3) and establishment of Land Revenue Records Management Information System in rural area of Islamabad. In Industries & Commerce section, four projects worth Rs.5786 million were approved by the CDWP. The projects are Expo Centre Islamabad (Phase 1), Expo Centre Quetta (Phase 1), and CPEC Industrial Cooperation Development Project.
The promotion of Gwadar in London will not help attract more investments to Pakistan but it would also promote a soft image of country amid accusations of Pakistan being a terrorist sponsor state.
The 34 projects approved by the CDWP covered almost every sector from water and energy to mass media and information technology sector. The most substantial project among these is the Diamer Basha Dam. Almost every leader in the past has promised its initiation and completion but it could not be done so due to a lack of funds. This dam has the potential to solve both our energy and water problems. Once it’s operational, it will have the capacity to produce 4500 Mega Watts of energy. It would almost double our hydroelectric power capacity which is currently at 6,611 Mega Watts. The average shortfall faced by Pakistan is also only 4000 MWs, which will be easily overcome with this dam.
This meeting has also acknowledged the grievances of Baloch people and initiated a number of infrastructure, health and education projects in the province. CPEC is considered to be a game changer for Balochistan which has stayed underdeveloped and been ignored because of its very low population for the past many decades. It is proving to be a great opportunity to bring it at par with other provinces.
Strategic Location of Gwadar Port
The Gwadar Port has a great geo-strategic importance as it provides China the shortest maritime access to Europe, Africa and the Middle East. China is the biggest importer of oil in the world and almost 80% of its energy sector imports pass through the Strait of Malacca but that region is vulnerable as it is frequently patrolled by the US Navy. Majority of Chinese imports and exports depend on the South China Sea but China is facing a number of maritime and land disputes with Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and the United States in the South China Sea.
In case of any hostility from state or non-state actors, energy imports and trade exports of China could be halted. China needs an alternate route to avoid any hostilities in the South China Sea and Gwadar Port through the CPEC offers this route. The sea route via Malacca is 12,000 kilometres long, while the distance of the Gwadar Port to Xinjiang is nearly 3,000 kilometres and from Xinjiang to China’s eastern cost is 3,500 kilometres so it would reduce the distance to almost half of the amount.
China has committed to invest $1.153 billion to finance construction projects and development of the port and adjacent sites. China has planned to construct $140 million East Bay Expressway project to connect Gwadar Port with the Makran Coastal Highway, installation of breakwaters at Gwadar port which cost $130 million, a $360 million coal power plant adjacent to Gwadar Port, a $27 million project to dredge berths in Gwadar harbour and a 300 bed hospital in Gwadar city that would cost $ 100 million.
Five projects out of these, worth Rs.333 billion, were referred to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC). The CDWP meeting was headed by Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Sartaj Aziz according to a press release.
Another desalination plant costing $114 million will be developed at the port to make sea water potable. China will further invest $35 million worth of infrastructure projects around the special economic zone. $230 million will be allocated to Pakistan to construct a new international airport in Gwadar. China Overseas Port Holdings Company also initiated $2 billion worth of additional infrastructure projects at the Gwadar Special Economic Zone.
Benefits to Pakistan
Pakistan initiated trade of goods through Gwadar Port o 13th November 2016. CPEC is the biggest foreign direct investment, being roughly equal to the sum of all investments in Pakistan since 1970. The promotion of Gwadar in London will not help attract more investments to Pakistan but it would also promote a soft image of country amid accusations of Pakistan being a terrorist sponsor state. The country desperately needs foreign investments as the US has cut off its military and Pakistan will be placed in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list in June 2018.
Strategic experts believe that India and US want to isolate Pakistan in the international arena, India for its strategic interests over the Kashmir issue and US to force Pakistan to aid it in the Afghan war. This aggression would adversely affect the CPEC which is considered to be a lifeline for the country. The future of China also greatly depends on the success of CPEC since China needs an alternate route to the South China Sea.
US is increasing its military presence in the sea and supporting the claims of rival countries on the South China Sea islands. While China maybe an emerging super power, it still lacks the potential to meet these threats head-on and the Chinese government believes in resolving issues through trade diplomacy. Aggression against Pakistan and China by the US might be an effort to sabotage CPEC, an attempt to kill two birds with one stone. If more foreign investors are attracted to CPEC, it would provide more security to the project as the number of stakeholders will increase.