THE GAME-CHANGER FOR PAKISTAN
“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”
Since the announcement of the construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), there was a lot of bickering over its route. However, it’s a good omen that during an All Parties Conference that was chaired by the Prime Minister himself, almost all important political parties of the country have hammered out a consensus on the route issue. The political leadership of the country has opted to first complete the western route of the corridor which would be built from Hasan Abdal to Gwadar, passing through Mianwali, Dera Ismail Khan and Zhob.
The CPEC is another manifestation of an undeniable truth that all-weather China-Pakistan friendship, in the words of Mian Nazwaz Sharif, is “higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest sea in the world, and sweeter than honey.” It may seem to be a mere tautology, yet the importance of CPEC in President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative and the economic bonanza that the Corridor will be for Pakistan proves that this proverbial friendship has entered a new phase. During President Xi’s visit, both countries reaffirmed their common desire to strengthen and expand their strategic partnership and to “elevate the Pakistan-China relationship to an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership”.
Given the numerous opportunities that the CPEC does have for Pakistan to grow and become a formidable economic power, it is incumbent on our leadership to move forward but with sagacity and prudence because intrigues and conspiracies in order to deter Pakistan from availing these opportunities are, and will be, abound. The terrorist attack on a camp of Pakistani labourers working on a dam project in Balochistan ahead of President Xi’s trip reinforced these concerns. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a thorn in India’s side as well because it has a history of bitter relation with both China and Pakistan. Although the Indian government has kept silent in public, it is known to be worried. Indian concerns have been expressed in subdued tones by Indian media and security analysts. Ministers in our archrival India’s government have already launched a vicious propaganda campaign against Pakistan while their intelligence agency Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) is also out to orchestrate terrorism in the country. When India never misses a chance to strangulate Pakistan then how could a Chinese investment of US$46 billion and installation of a host of energy projects will be acceptable to it?
Improving the precarious law and order situation in the country is the direst and the most important need of the moment. The creation of a 10,000-man strong special force for protecting the development projects to be carried out under the CPEC, and the Chinese workers associated with them, is, undoubtedly, a wise move. But, a lot more is still to be done.
The concerns of smaller provinces should indeed be allayed but it is also important that the opportunities of development available to our dear homeland in form of the CPEC are not sacrificed on the altar of mere politics. We have already suffered a lot due to non-construction of Kalabagh Dam —the matter that has been more political than technical.
The CPEC is rightly being called the game-changer for Pakistan. This is the golden opportunity for our leaders to achieve the cherished dream of making Pakistan an “Asian Tiger”. If we falter in making the most of it, we will be failing the responsibility of bequeathing a strong and developed Pakistan to our next generations. It would be a crime that history will never forgive.