By Fazal Elahi
Being termed as a ‘game changer’ not only for Pakistan but the entire region ‘CPEC’ is in the process of speedy implementation, despite all the hue and cry being raised by vested interests. The over $45billion Chinese investment coming into this gargantuan Pak-China venture has no parallel in Pak-China history of mutual cooperation. A huge investment of this magnitude has, in fact, never ever been made before in Pakistan by any affluent country of the world. In view of this fact CPEC will indeed be a dream come true, if successfully executed.
In spite of knowing the importance of this gigantic project and the mammoth contribution it, once completed, would make towards the economic growth of not only Pakistan but also that of the other countries of the region detractors of this high profile project, at home and abroad, are hell bent on doing whatever they can to sabotage it. Vested groups, political and otherwise, from within the country are creating hurdles to retard the progress of the project.
Pakistan’s ever-belligerent neighbor India too, for obvious reasons, does not want this project to see the light of the day. As usual, India seems to be deeply engrossed in finding ways and means to malign the project by raising undue hue and cry. The belligerent Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is believed to have told the Chinese leadership, during one of his visits to China last year, that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is ‘unacceptable’ to India. The Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, in a news conference held in the Indian Capital the same year and published in Pakistan’s print media, vociferously stated that Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has clearly told Beijing that the multibillion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was totally unacceptable to India. The Indian External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj further enunciated that the Indian government summoned the Chinese envoy over the multibillion dollar investment in Pakistan and the Indian envoy in Beijing had also raised the issue with the Chinese authorities.
This audacious stance of India abundantly endorses the concerns expressed by Pakistan, time and again, that India is creating unrest in Balochistan, and elsewhere in the country, with the expressed intent of sabotaging CPEC that possessed every potential to be a ‘game changer’ for the region. One only wishes had India, for once, sincerely looked beyond its self-interest and focused on the larger interest of the region it would have brought the much desired economic stability not only to the countries of the region and Pakistan but also to India.
Yet another factor that seriously threats CPEC is terrorism. Security of the Chinese engaged in executing the project in different parts of the country is also a cause for major concern. Fortunately, this extremely vital issue is being well taken care of by the gallant Pakistan Army which has pledged to provide fool-proof security to the Chinese workforce working on different segments of the project at different locations. Pakistan Army has raised a Special Security Division (SSD) for the security of the CPEC. It is indeed satisfying to note that the country’s security forces were fully aware of all campaigns against the corridor and are fully prepared to pay any price to turn the long-cherished dream of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into reality. CPEC, once completed, will turn out to be a game changer for the entire region. Unambiguously, it possesses all the potential to transform the lives of the people of our part of the world as well as the people of the region.
It is extremely vital that the political forces in the country make conscious and concerted efforts not to politicize this project for political gains. They should rise above personal gains and ensure smooth implementation of this project for the collective benefit of this nation. They should realize that CPEC is an opportunity in centuries and out-and-out endeavors should be made to avail this great opportunity, by all means and under all circumstances.
Cohesion in thought and action, vis-à-vis CPEC, of people belonging to every stratum of the society, including the leaders, within the country is the only way through which the ill-intent of the outside forces unremittingly operating against the project can be effectively countered. To avoid controversies and ensure that all the provinces of the country which are the potential beneficiaries of the project are on the same page, those at the helm in the government and are currently the principal executor of the project should make certain that no injustice is done and due share of the provinces with regard to the project is duly given to them.
* The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad-Pakistan.