Rashakai Special Economic Zone


Rashakai Special Economic Zone

China, the new economic powerhouse of the world, is implementing its plans to reach out to the world’s important strategic points and have a considerably dominant role in global market, through its ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) Initiative. Having unparallel global impact, this is an economic initiative unprecedented in the modern world history. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an important part of OBOR and is a real blessing for Pakistan’s faltering economy. In order to attract Chinese investors, a total of nine special economic zones (SEZs) have been planned under CPEC. Rashakai Special Economic Zone, the first of nine such zones proposed for Pakistan, is the latest SEZ for which a signing ceremony was held, on September 14, in the office of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has brought enormous opportunities for the economic development of Pakistan. This mega project has multifaceted and multidimensional aspects in various sectors of economy, having mammoth social and economic impact on the country. These initiatives range from the development of Gwadar port to spreading of a vast network of roads and railways, from mega educational cities to special economic zones across the length and breadth of the country.CPEC-22

Rashakai Special Economic Zone (RSEZ) is one of those mega economic zones, specialized for the development of specific areas of economy having world-class industrial productions. This gigantic project is located near Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—Nowshera is already famous for textile market and a major portion of textile in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is distributed from here on wholesale basis. It is expected to cover about 406 hectares, and will be developed in three phases that include a textile industrial and mechanical complex, among other facilities. It has also got major installments and garrison of Pakistan army; thus, is more secure as compared to other areas of the province.

RSEZ is planned to be developed in three phases and will expand over 1000 acres of land. Under the Federal Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) Regulations, 159 acres will be developed in phase one, 279 acres in phase two and 264 acres in phase three, gradually. The location of the RSEZ is a sparsely-populated area and its land, too, is not that much cultivable as compared to the vast arable fields of Punjab, thus far more suitable for establishing industrial units. The main industrial sectors that are planned include: garment and textile products, building materials, general merchandize, electronics and electrical appliances, and automobile & mechanical equipment.Untitled-1-4-1280x720

More importantly, the geographic location of RSEZ further adds to its importance. It is located at the junction point of Islamabad-Peshawar and Swat Motorway, thus easily accessible from major areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Moreover, the economic activities here will provide about 200,000 jobs to the people of Pakistan which will considerably decrease the burden of unemployment. Many Chinese firms have shown their interest in investing in RSEZ, and it will also increase the trust of the local investors, and will stimulate them to invest in various sectors of the Economic Zone.


About Rashakai Special Economic Zone

Khyber Pakhtynunkhwa has partnered with a Chinese state-owned developer, China Road and Bridge Corporation, for developing the Rashakai Special Economic Zone that has been conceptualized from its initial stages by KPEZDMC, giving the local industrialists an additional benefit of having an exceptionally pre-planned economic zone of international standards. RSEZ also serves as a bridging post to Northern Areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and has close proximity to the Afghan border. Due to this central position of the economic zone in the province, KP authorities foresee it to be the imminent trade hub of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

An access road (3.2 km) from Wali Interchange to RSEZ zero point is under construction (Phase-I).  Moreover, RSEZ is connected to all provinces of Pakistan through Airport (at a distance of 65 KM from RSEZ), Dry Port (65 KM), Railway station (25 KM), Motorway, highway (5 KM) and city centre (15 KM).Screenshot_25-min-1

The total population in the immediate surroundings is estimated to be over 35 million, including the newly-merged districts, but given its access to Afghanistan, to China via northern CPEC route and Punjab to the south; the RSEZ gets access to almost 112 million people – and thus becomes an attractive destination for investments.

Three Phases

Phase 1, with an assigned area of 247 acres, is estimated to be completed within two years. Phase 2, with an assigned area of 335 acres, is estimated to be completed within the next two years. Phase 3, with an assigned area of 399 acres, is estimated to be completed within the next 2-3 years after Phase 2 is completed.

Undoubtedly, there are abundant opportunities ahead in this mega project for all the stakeholders, yet there are certain challenges that may impede the process of its robust development and timely completion. The local peasants and land-owners are continuously complaining for not receiving the payments against their lands and bemoan that the local authorities are not willing to compensate them. They have protested against the concerned authorities time and again and even blocked main motorway several times. During the tenure of Pervez Khattak as Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—also the local MPA—the owners met him and presented their concerns, but still they complain that the relevant circles haven’t paid their remaining amounts. On the other hand, on the opposite side of the RSEZ, a mega city is located and major portion of its payment has been paid to the land-owners.

Furthermore, various housing societies under development are now under the grab of section 4 and it has darkened the future of real-estate developers in the province. Timely payment to the owners and developers will, definitely, facilitate the transfer of ownership rights and getting possession of the land by the government. Many land-owners have challenged the rates set by the revenue authorities in courts for not being in consonance with the market value. On-ground development and real start of the developmental activities will only be possible when all these relevant challenges are overcome on priority basis.

To conclude, it can be rightly said that Rashakai Special Economic Zone is a timely entry into the economic sector of Pakistan. The youth, especially those having technical education, will get enormous opportunities for their future in these industries. Foreign debts of the country can be easily overcome, if all the mega projects of CPEC are properly utilized and implemented in letter and spirit. The Special Economic Zones of Rashakai and Hattar Industrial State in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can compensate the labourers working in Gulf and other countries provided that they are properly trained and technically educated to fulfil the requirements of these industries. The government needs to prioritize solving the issues of all the stakeholders and take timely measures for its early completion and operationalization.


The author teaches at Department of Political Science, University of Malakand, Chakdara. He can be reached at mairajulhamid717@gmail.com.  

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