HYDERABAD: Experts have urged the Sindh government and public-sector universities to produce skilled manpower for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in order to get more benefits of employment opportunities.

They attached great importance to CPEC, saying that it was a game-changer for Pakistan and key to economic development and prosperity of the entire region.

In their presentation of research papers on the second day of the three-day international conference on the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Political, Economic and Social perspectives” at the University of Sindh, Jamshoro, they discussed infrastructural development in villages and remote areas as the corridor plays an important role in connecting communities, markets and institutions.

Noted scholar and analyst Dr Rasul Bukhsh Rais said roads, highways and railways were primary sources for building a nation, but in Pakistan, they were unfortunately ignored in the past. Infrastructure connected people and communities in villages and remote areas with markets, state institutions and the world at large, but it had generally been ignored in the study of national integration, he said.

He pointed out that CPEC had the potential of integrating national economy, generating social and economic mobility for deeper national integration. He said: “We plan to focus on national migration, investments, industrialisation and urbanisation themes as spin-off effects of Pakistan’s connectivity with China, Central Asia and the world beyond the Arabian Sea”.

Another researcher from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Dr Mohammad Ali, said the projects included in CPEC were urban based and the federal government had not taken measures to produce essential human force required to handle this rapid development.

He observed that Pakistan had not identified projects under CPEC to focus on agricultural development. He said: “Pakistan’s agriculture sector is nearly stagnant.” He said the CPEC projects consisted of energy sector, infrastructure area and economic zone. “CPEC will boost trade activities and create job opportunities in Pakistan,” he added.

Taiwan’s National University Prof Dr Chih-yu Shih talked about how CPEC defies Western international relations theory. He said the sense of togetherness conceived and reproduced by the economic corridor did not reflect Western assumption of anarchy; rather it demonstrated transcendence of sovereign nationhood through reciprocating mutual role expectations.

He said CPEC testified to formation of customised bilateral identities, enabling reciprocity in action, mutuality in self-constitution and togetherness in collective identity that were all increasingly intrinsic to evolving strategic partnership.

Zhejiang Normal University China’s Prof Dr Zhao Zhihui said that Pakistan as China’s neighbour had important strategic meaning to China.

Others who also presented their papers were Dr Charles H. Kennedy from the US, Dr Fazalur Rehman from the Pakistan Council of China (Islamabad), Dr Sarfraz Khan from the Area Study Centre (University of Peshawar), Dr Ngeow Chow Bing from the University of Malaysia, Prof T.U. Erwenjlang T.U. Erxun from the Zhejiang Normal University China and many other national and international scholars.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2017