China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) most debated issue in international sphere and local media simultaneously. It seems that every passing day developing a sense of insecurity rather disparity among provinces if we talk about the western route of CPEC in Pakistan. Pakistan has identified three routes for CPEC to connect Pakistan’s deep sea with western China:
1. The eastern route (passing mainly through central Punjab and Sindh) and most criticized by KPK they consider that federal government focusing on it.
2. The central route (passing partly through KPK and up till the non connected (eastern route) parts of Punjab and Sindh).
3. The western route (passing through the relatively underdeveloped areas of KPK and Balochistan) which is talk of the town now a day as all the political parties of KPK believes that they are under privilege as compare to eastern route.
The western route is the most challenging one for both countries. In addition to the difficult mountainous terrain in KPK and Baluchistan provinces, active Baloch insurgency needs more focus by government to eradicate the elements of unrest through development. Chinese government adopted the same approach in Kashgar, Kashgar facing multiple security challenges. The Chinese expect that the establishment of five economic zones in Kashgar will completely transform the region and minimise the security risks such as the separatist and militant movements.
This Corridor is merely “Trade, Energy, Transport and Industrial Corridor”. That’s the main concern of KPK. There is no corridor plan according with what was accepted in 28th May 2015 at the All Parties Conference (APC) by the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at western route. This is just a road and a road without gas pipeline, power lines, fibre optic cable or railway lines has no importance. KPK government believes that federal government has limited all the components to the corridor between Gwadar and
Rawalpindi. The KPK region will not be the beneficiary of the route. China is using the economic corridor project to develop its underdeveloped areas so we do.
CPEC is not just a road; It is a concept of economic development which has special economic zones, pipelines, technical training institutes and opportunities for the youth. Pakistan has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to emerge as a economically steady power of the region. in result of focus on western route Pakistan would not be confined to just Lahore, Karachi or Islamabad or Peshawar but Balochistan, interior Sindh and far flung areas of KPK would also be flowing in the mainstream and sharing the burden of densely populated cities of Pakistan by offering alternates.
There is a hope that the CPEC will change the regional economic and strategic environment. Specifically, in the Pakistan, better understanding on developing political consensus, security and geo-economic issues for the safety of the corridor. It is the responsibility of government of Pakistan to protect it from local, regional and global non-state and state actors. Recent tiff within central and province could harm or delay the future of Pakistan. A better understanding is imperative for central government and KPK on western route for peace and stability in region to lessen the dependency from mega cities to underdeveloped cities and maximize the benefits of the CPEC.
The security of the whole corridor and Gwadar is a real concern for China. They are less worried about political differences in Pakistan, which they believe will be resolved with the passage of time. As far as the safety of the workforce is concerned at western route, Pakistan can meet this challenge. The army has already announced the creation of a 10,000-man special force for protecting the development projects to be carried out under the CPEC all over the country. They will concentrate where the unrest causing damage to the economic back bone of Pakistan.
Atif R. Mazari
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