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PM Khan’s propositions at Belt and Road Forum: Pakistan needs to help itself out

Poverty alleviation, tourism promotion, and curbing corruption are all significant in making the BRI project a success.

Belt and Road

News Analysis |

Prime Minister Imran Khan has proposed multidimensional initiatives to be incorporated in the existing framework of China multi trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative to which China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the flagship projects.

Imran Khan suggested that BRI should

  • have tourism and cultural assimilation gateway,
  • utilize manpower of the region to serve in the labor deficient parts of the world and
  • establish multi-lingual platform which can serve to connect recruiters and job seekers.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan was attending the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) on the lines of BRI where 37 heads of the states had gathered to express their aspirations and to mark the roadmap for the future.

Read more: PM Khan urges BRI members to establish tourism corridor to strengthen…

Furthermore, PM Imran Khan’s proposal regarding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) included efforts to curb the corruption, increasing people-to-people connection, using the corridors as a mean to promote tourism, the foundation of a poverty alleviation fund and bringing in stakeholders from the private sector to enhance the efficiency.

The Shared Ambitions

In order to make the BRI humongous infrastructure venture a success, in the long run, it is significant to employ mitigating steps to curtail growing poverty in the region. Poverty leads to deterioration of law and order situation and the success of BRI depends on the stability since it is going to be the biggest route which would facilitate a major part of global trade.

Hence, Imran Khan is right to point out that poverty across all the beneficiary states should be a common concern which should be addressed via a poverty alleviation fund. Similarly, corruption is also rampant in the adjoining countries even in China, which despite placing capital punishment for corruption continues to experience an upward trend. The growth needs to be stimulated in an environment where investments are safe and people find it easy to conduct business, leading to a joint effort to stop the menace of corruption.

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

For the ownership of the infrastructure passing through the country, it is important that indigenous populations see the developments as beneficial for its own country rather a foreign project. As Imran Khan suggested, for better understanding, people-to-people connection and free movement of the workforce via multilingual platform could help achieve this objective.

Pakistan Must Act on its Own

Among the reasons for building a massive network of roads and rails across multiple countries and continents is the fact that China needs to grow constantly to provide its huge workforce with employment opportunities. Chinese labor is central to all the major infrastructure projects under BRI going on in several countries including Pakistan.

For the country to accommodate its own job seeking population, Pakistan will have to establish economic zones along the CPEC route which would thrive the industry and the economy. Even if China wanted to, it has got its own share of employment-related issues to take care of, therefore, policymakers in Pakistan must think ahead as to how the opportunity should be tapped in to grow its own economy.

Pakistan is among the countries which have the manpower in terms of quantity, but the skills required are lacking in general. The countries which are steering the development, which Prime Minister Imran Khan referred to as labor deficient countries, and even where the labor is in abundance, are exponentially moving toward automation in production. It implies that such countries are in need of specialized labor instead of conventional labors which South Asia countries, such as the textile industry in Bangladesh, is using to keep their economy going.

Read more: Economic crisis hurting CPEC?

Unfortunately, the current vocational and education set up of Pakistan is producing the graduates which are below par as global standards. Hence, among other things, PM Imran Khan and its teams need to revisit the prospects of how Pakistan can use its youth bulge for the growth of the economy which eventually trickle down to every tier of the society.

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