PESHAWAR: Human resource development, political stability and good governance can be the main components to make the multibillion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project sustainable and result-oriented.

This was the crux of the speeches delivered during the two-day international conference, which ended here on Thursday.

The University of Peshawar’s Area Study Centre and Chinese Embassy had jointly organised the event on ‘Belt and Road Initiative, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Trans-Regional Integration’, where ambassadors and diplomats from China, Russia, Central Asian Republics, Iran and Afghanistan were in attendance.

Seven scholars from abroad, including Russian Federation, and academicians and experts representing think tanks read out their papers in the two-day conference.

International moot on BRI, corridor initiatives ends

The experts highlighted challenges and prospects of the BRI and CPEC, brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping that would economically integrate more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Former chief secretary Shakeel Durrani told participants that the BRI-CPEC was our version of the Martial Plan, which was introduced in Europe after the World War-II.

He said the Martial Plan had transformed Europe after the war.

Mr Durrani proposed that the railway network occupy central place in the integration of the region. He supported the proposed construction of the Kabul-Peshawar Motorway.

The former chief secretary said the projects like CPEC could either rid the country of poverty or face failure.

He said on one hand, the projects like Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa failed to produce the desired results but on the other, the projects like Tarbela and Mangla dams continued to contribute to the national economy.

Mr Durrani said the CPEC had to be a self-sustained project, while the Pakistani government had to focus on human resource development, political stability and good governance.

He said one of the major reasons for the failure of Gadoon Amazai initiative was bad governance.

The former chief secretary also called for control of population growth. Afghan academician Abdul Baqi said his country would play a central role in regional connectivity due to its geographical location.

He said Afghanistan was in the centre of South Asia and Central Asia, so two major energy projects would pass through its territory.

Mr Baqi said the prevailing security situation in Afghanistan were major hurdles to the laying of railway line, which could link South Asia with Central Asia.

Expressing concern over the existing security situation in Afghanistan, he said who was behind the so-called Islamic State or Daesh militant outfits was a mystery.

He said regional countries could play a role in intra-Afghan dialogue to end decades long conflict.

In a paper, Kazakhstani researcher Dr Seyit Ali Avcu insisted that anti-Chinese sentiment and fear of over-indebting to China while misusing its own finances and re-education camps in Xinjiang that caused uproar could pose threat to the BRI.

He said since the economic and political relations between Russian and China had never been so good, not all Central Asian countries were part of Eurasian Economic Union.

The researcher said the Chinese influence on Central Asia was purely economic rather than political and that Eurasian Economic Union and BRI initiative would coexist and prosper side by side.

He added that the New Silk Road initiative of the US would have negative effect since the US was withdrawing from the region and was not committing enough funds to make the initiative sustainable.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2019