Can Pakistan Accomplish its Strategic Objectives through CPEC? - BY: Asia Maqsood

Strategic partnership of China and Pakistan is playing a role of a regional balancer against India’s hegemonic ambitions in South Asia. The growing Indo-U.S. strategic partnership specifically after their civil nuclear deal is compelling both China and Pakistan to strengthen their strategic relations.
The motivating factor in their friendship is the common objective to promote stability and mutual security through the maintenance of the regional geopolitical balance in south Asia. Both countries have been cooperating in different fields such as in the field of defense, energy, infrastructure, health and technology. Apart from this the silk route running through Pakistan is best route for China to get an access to energy rich Central Asian States. Both countries are cooperating with each other in joint projects of Gwadar Port and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Discussing the strategic implications of these two huge developments Gwadar Port is one of China’s String of Pearls policy planned by China in the Central Asia, South Asia and South East Asia to increase its political and economic influence in these regions. This will check the security calculus in this region. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has huge significance because it runs through the one of the most vital geostrategic locations in South Asia. CPEC project includes construction of new infrastructure and up-gradation of existing infrastructure of roads, rails and power projects in Pakistan. Theoretically it would be a game changer for Pakistan. Pakistan has suffered and affected by terrorism which provided less prospects of Foreign Direct Invest (FDI) in Pakistan. As 46 billion dollars is three times the total FDI of Pakistan in the last decade and it is expected that through this project seven lac jobs will be created till 2030. It will increase GDP growth of the country.

CPEC is the extension of China’s proposed 21st century Silk Route Initiative named as One Belt One Road and is the biggest overseas investment by China. Because of the strategically complex region of South Asia and the involvement of the major political actors from the international community both countries China and Pakistan has strengthened their bilateral relations particularly post 9/11 period. They are working mutually in all fields such as defense sector,

economic projects etc. Out of them Gwadar Port project and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor are geo-strategically important. Along this port China Pakistan Economic Corridor has great importance because it runs through the one of the most vital geostrategic location in South Asia.
It is considered as a game changer in the region. It would bring prosperity to Pakistan by providing it the connection between economic hubs centered on the urban landscape where more resources and actors are concentrated. Along the promotion of inter-civilization communication through cultural exchanges, people to people contact and coordination of diplomatic strategies are the expected outcomes of CPEC.

CPEC is a megaproject which is considered central to the China-Pakistan relations. It connects Gwadar Port in the southwestern Pakistan to the northwestern Xinjiang region of China through a network of highways, railways, airports, pipelines. It aims at the transportation of oil and gas it will run about 3000km from Gwadar to Kashgar. The total construction cost is about 46 billion dollars. The completion till 2030 is expected.

This mega project not only has the potential to usher great economic and trade activities in the region but also strategically it will give to Pakistan a great leverage against India. The Indian territorial claims for the northern areas of Pakistan will be deterred by the Chinese presence over there because of the CPEC route’s location from north to south. This will enhance Pakistan’s security status. For Pakistan this project is also a catalyst to boost its economy. Because of CPEC Gwadar will be transformed into world-class port by 2017.

There are many challenges ahead of this project and the responses of major powers are yet to be completely determined but the new era having new dynamics of economics have come which would bring states to competition in shape of CPEC.

The success of China’s huge investment depends upon the Pakistan’s own ability to maintain its security and stability. It is on Pakistan to make this huge Chinese investment sustainable and valuable in long term by saving itself from its own economic failings.

Posted on Dec 03, 16 | 11:13 pm