THE news from Southeast Asia has made some headlines domestically too, as a newly elected leader in Malaysia decided to revisit all Chinese projects launched by his predecessor.

The outlines of the news resonate closely here in Pakistan, where a new leader promising a new beginning has just begun his career, and has promised a closer look at all CPEC projects to determine whether or not any wrongdoing may have been committed when they were being negotiated.

As in the case of Malaysia, the former leader is now in jail, facing corruption charges, which adds fuel to the notion in the public’s mind that all deals negotiated under him should be re-examined.

Take a look: CPEC repayment plan under preparation

One key difference, perhaps, is that in the case of Pakistan, the new leadership has promised greater transparency and continuity in CPEC projects, provided no real evidence of wrongdoing emerges.

Perhaps this resonance between the news from Malaysia and developments here lies behind the three-day visit that the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has just begun. He is the third foreign minister to visit Pakistan since the new government took over, and his is the longest visit of all.

His plate is heavy given the massive stakes China has in this country, but in contrast to the US secretary of state who was here recently, his baggage is light. This gives him the space, not only to spend time in the country, but also indulge in activities like meeting students who are about to begin their studies in China.

Also read: How Gwadar’s CPEC development might leave its people behind

But at some point, the pleasantries will subside and the conversation will turn to more substantive matters, like the fate of the large investments China has made here, and the future of the plans drawn up under the CPEC framework. Those plans include almost Rs1tr worth of the Pakistan government’s commitments to projects under CPEC, to be paid from its own resources.

On top of that, plenty of work needs to be done on the special economic zones which require extensive coordination with provincial authorities.

Apart from the air of ‘change’ sweeping the country, the stars light behind the venture. The ruling party controls two provinces as well as the centre, and is in a unique position to advance the project given the virtual absence of an organised opposition.

This is a good opportunity for the government to clarify all issues with the Chinese authorities regarding CPEC, and its own thinking on the project’s future.

Chief among these clarifications must be the question of transparency. In Pakistan, public policy requires far greater transparency and disclosure. That is just how our laws and public traditions are.

Once the importance of this priority has been impressed upon our Chinese guest, the rest of the path forward becomes a lot clearer automatically.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2018

Opinion

What a tangled web

What a tangled web

So poorly kept is this secret about the opposition’s real hopes and no plans that even the government has figured it out.
Climate threat over South Asia
Updated 26 Oct 2021

Climate threat over South Asia

Water shortages, drought, floods or landslides and tsunamis are not constrained by national boundaries.
Losing heritage
26 Oct 2021

Losing heritage

It’s not a good idea to turn Mohatta into a college.
The long impasse
Updated 25 Oct 2021

The long impasse

Management of Pakistan-India tensions is likely to remain the main focus of sporadic backchannel efforts.

Editorial

Perfect in every way
Updated 26 Oct 2021

Perfect in every way

GLORIOUS. Gratifying. Liberating. Pakistan’s thumping victory over India in their opening fixture of the T20 World...
26 Oct 2021

Balochistan CM’s exit

ON Sunday, Jam Kamal Khan Alyani’s name was added to the long list of chief ministers of Balochistan who ...
Minister’s odd logic
26 Oct 2021

Minister’s odd logic

THE government’s contradictions and confusion appear to have no end when it comes to dealing with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan.
25 Oct 2021

Party to a vile campaign

THE PTI government’s hostility towards the media and its intolerance for dissent is well known. The target of ...
Financial crisis
Updated 25 Oct 2021

Financial crisis

DESPITE having progressed to ‘very good step’ and being ‘close to concluding the agreement’ a few days back,...
25 Oct 2021

Morals and Pemra

TIME and again, Pemra has come under fire for issuing arbitrary instructions to TV channels on matters ranging from...