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Nasir Azeem |

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is being talked about a lot in media, policy circles, and academia. This game-changing project is a cause of concern for India. On Tuesday, the Chinese Ambassador to India proposed the idea of changing the name of CPEC to allay Indian concerns. Touted as a mega project and a landmark in Sino-Pak ties, there is a need to address certain important questions.

Read more: “We can think about renaming CPEC” China offers India

There is no doubt in it that China is a time-tested friend of Pakistan and is now busy in injecting billions of dollars in Pakistan’s fragile economy and the port city of Gwadar to further strengthen the mutual relationship. The establishment of this new trade route will connect mainland China with middle East and other parts of the globe. But, still, it is not clear that it is an “investment” or some new form of “economic colonialism”.

The federal government needs to create a “national consensus” over it and the details of the agreement between the states should be made public to get more benefits from the economic corridor.

If we closely read out the report presented before the lower house, it clearly states that not only “investment” but even skilled and unskilled labor is coming from China and the native people are getting nothing except some new “promises”; their share is thus negligible. The federation has imposed some new taxes in our domestic bill to pay for the security of the project. If this is the case, then it will be appropriate for us to label this project as a “game changer” for Pakistan.

Seemingly, China would get a lot out of this project, economically, politically, and militarily but is there anything tangible for us that’s still ambiguous. The federal government needs to create a “national consensus” over it and the details of the agreement between the states should be made public to get more benefits from the economic corridor. If there is nothing to hide, then we should openly share it with the biggest stakeholders of Pakistan: the general public. There is no doubt in it that every shareholder would benefit from this giant according to the size of its economy.

How can Pakistan extract more from CPEC?

As we all know that Pakistan is facing the worst energy crisis in its history, so it would be nearly impossible for us to utilize the project without resolving the core issue of power and gas shortage, especially in the industrial sector. China is a developed country and highly interested in developing and exploring unconventional sources of power to meet the enhancing energy needs. Pakistan should invite private foreign investors and encourage the local ones to eradicate the biggest obstacle in its path to progress and prosperity. A three level (short, mid, and long-term) energy policy should be adopted in this regard.

Read more: China’s ‘soft’ imperialism: Will Pakistan gain nothing from CPEC?

Pakistan needs to carve out its Strategy and every Institution should work accordingly. Civil-Military cooperation in this regard is the essential ingredient to maximize our benefits politically, socially, and economically. This project could help us having a nimble and proactive approach towards the elimination of terrorism. Combating militancy is one thing but reaching the root cause of it needs totally a different kind of approach. Creating jobs and pro-trade atmosphere for unemployed well Educated directionless youth to stop them from becoming foot soldiers of militants. CPEC is going to provide us “mother of all job opportunities” to employ our generations to come.

India’s biggest nightmare would come true as China is a permanent member of the UN security council and can easily take up Kashmir issue on any global platform. This could become a permanent support system for our “Kashmir cause”.

We have to keep in mind that foreign investment and terrorism can’t go side by side. We have to revisit our security policy to eradicate this menace once and for all. The military can combat militancy but when it comes to extremist mentality then a counter-narrative needs to be there to erode this monster and nimble role of the civil administration is more than essential. The extremism flourishing in the youthful minds of our society should be tackled on all levels. Extraordinary problems demand out of the box solutions. If an emerging superpower is providing us with an opportunity and trusting on our feeble political and economic system, then we collectively have to come out of our comfort zone and put aside our traditional incompetence to avail than chance.

By sharing stakes with China in CPEC, Pakistan could become one of the major regional political players. Along with the economic boost through this project, we can enhance our importance in the global political arena as well. Whether India and current Modi administration like it or not but through CPEC China would become a de facto stakeholder in Kashmir issue. India’s biggest nightmare would come true as China is a permanent member of the UN security council and can easily take up Kashmir issue on any global platform. This could become a permanent support system for our “Kashmir cause”.

CPEC can be the catalyst for Pakistan’s gradual shift from an agrarian economy into a modern industrialized one within few years because it would connect Gwadar with some of the fastest emerging markets throughout the world.

Some doubts and valid objections are still there about CPEC which should be nipped in the bud before rival forces start exploiting them and try to paint it as another “Kalabagh Dam”. But despite all concerns that are being expressed in it, the best part of this whole scenario is that none of the foreign policy experts and economists can deny the positive aspects of it. Before it’s too late, we need to prepare ourselves for this collective life-changing experience.

Read more: CPEC’s vulnerabilities: Can Pakistan carve a way out?

CPEC can be the catalyst for Pakistan’s gradual shift from an agrarian economy into a modern industrialized one within few years because it would connect Gwadar with some of the fastest emerging markets throughout the world.

We can’t ignore the shrewdness of our opportunist regional rivals that are planning to counter this strategic development by investing billions of dollars in the neighboring ports on one hand and funding the banned militant outfits on the other to internally destabilize Pakistan without imposing traditional war on it there trying to achieve their goals. The state should not let any doubt and misconceptions regarding CPEC coming in the minds of the commoners go unaddressed. A timely response towards some genuine concerns is the need of the hour.

Nasir Azeem is a student of Law. He has interests in Global Political happenings and World History. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Nasir Azeem is a student of Law. He has interests in Global Political happenings and World History.

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