In Dr Aynul Hassan's opinion, CPEC may well reshape the future.
Published June 13, 2018

By Dr Aynul Hassan

In Dr Aynul Hassan's opinion, CPEC may well reshape the future.

PEOPLE have often raised concerns about the CPEC being the next East India Company. But, much to their dismay, they have been proven wrong time and again. We now live in a globalised world where the countries are interdependent to fulfil their needs. Gone are the days when the foreigners would step on a land for the sole purpose of invasion and colonisation. They don’t set up their military bases now in foreign lands, but they are rather interested in setting up their businesses overseas. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is based on the win-win philosophy of Confucius.

With the successful execution of CPEC, both Pakistan and China are going to reshape the future of the economic world. China will have all that it needs at the moment to make its presence felt in every corner of the world; more seaports and direct routes to connect with different parts of the world, cutting down the shipping costs etc. Pakistan will see phenomenal growth in its infrastructure, energy and telecommunication sectors.

BRI bids to enhance regional connectivity and cooperation and to address the Infrastructural Gap of 68 countries across the Asia Pacific area and Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Thus, it has the potential to accelerate the economic growth. BRI has some of the largest infrastructure and investment projects in history, covering 65pc of the world’s population and 40pc of the global GDP as of 2017.

CPEC is a 3,218-km route, mainly consisting of, but not limited to, highways, railways, pipelines and energy projects. The project that had initially started off with a $46bn budget may now witness an increase which might take it to $75bn. Out of the total amount, a whopping $33bn will be for used for energy projects alone which will help Pakistan with its prevalent energy crises.

For China, its north-western landlocked region will become land and sea-linked through Kashgar, Gwadar and beyond. Its import cost of crude oil will decline significantly. More importantly, China’s further expansion of longterm trade with the West through Gwadar could be safe and secure as opposed to routes through the South China Sea or the Malacca Strait.

For many, CPEC is the gamechanger for Pakistan. Such are the expectations from the project on this side of the border. There is absolutely no doubt that it will help Pakistani traders get access to huge Chinese market that remains untapped to so many businesses in Pakistan.

With CPEC in place, one hopes that the large deposits of mineral resources will be extracted and made the most of. The tourism industry is also set to get a boost because of the opportunities that the CPEC brings with itself. Most of all, it will help create hundreds and thousands of jobs in Pakistan, resulting in significantly cutting down the problem of unemployment.

To implement CPEC in an optimal fashion, we need a development policy which ensures that peace, security and stability of the region are not compromised and there is scope for an average educated, healthy and disciplined workforce to perform duties on a mass scale. It should be ensured that the rule of law, accountability, meritocracy, transparency, good governance and business-friendly policies are in place for the successful execution of CPEC.

Once the aforementioned objectives are guaranteed, the work should be done to make the infrastructure better than ever because the CPEC will continue to play a critical role in the development of infrastructure across Pakistan.

The writer is Former Director, Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division, United Nations.

This article is part of the CPEC 2018 summit supplement. To read more from the supplement, visit the archive.