ISLAMABAD, 07th March 2016:
CPEC can only act as a game changer, if Pakistan succeeds to overcome security challenges and contribute to regional stability, former Ambassador of Pakistan to China, Riaz Muhammad Khan says. In a special lecture on ‘CPEC: A Geo-Economic Initiative,’ organized by SDPI, Monday, he said Chinese would have invested ten times more in Pakistan over the last few decades, if the security situation would have been better. He said Pakistan need to handle not only the security challenges at home, but to contribute in promoting regional stability as well.
He said, in the past, Pakistan has been thinking of engaging China economically. This thinking of Pakistan has been neatly tucked in ‘One Belt One Road.’ He said, on basis of a phenomenal economic prowess the China has shown over the last few decades, it has planes of investing globally for economic expansion and other reasons. ‘Once Belt One Road,’ is the biggest ever programme of building infrastructure after the Marshall Plan. There are four important questions that need to be answered, before we could understand the CPEC initiative, he said. Which are; 1) China’s perspective on the subject, 2) Its scope and the underlying challenges, 3) Pakistan- China economic cooperation and, 4) lessons from the past cooperation and its limitation.
Ambassador Riaz, said Pakistan has been depending on China for economic growth, energy development, civil-nuclear cooperation in a substantive way, for a long time. USD 46 billion is not a big investment from China, but from Pakistan’s perspective it is important, which can materialize in period of 10 years.
Going forward in materializing the project, Chinese would need two important contributions from Pakistan, i.e. provision of security and the feasibility of the projects, which is reciprocity of efforts from Pakistan’s side.
Discussing different route options on the project, he said, it is up to Pakistan to evaluate its socio-political requirement for mainstreaming the Western route, China is comfortable with any route that is safer and economically better placed, which is the Eastern one. The project is mostly funded through the private investment of Chinese companies, who maintain focus on economic returns.
Discussing the geo-political connotations, he said, the US policy of Pivot-Asia is ambiguous and is security oriented. Whereas, China’s project is much more specific and it is based on commerce.
Earlier, introducing the topic of the lecture, Chair Board of Governors, SDPI, Ambassador ® Shafqat Kakakhel said, CPEC is an integral part of a much larger Chinese initiative, which is the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative.
CPEC is considered to be largest infrastructure development project since the Marshall Plan, after the World War Two. It focused on rehabilitation and re-sustainability of European economies. The CPEC project has two components, the road and the maritime silk-road component. Both road and maritime routes would join at Gwadar. The project would eventually affect 65 countries of the world. The cost of these connectivity projects (road and maritime routes) would be USD 900 billion. The project would impact 4.4 billion people across the globe, more than half of the world population.
From Chinese point of view the project has three components. First is to convert most of the Asian region into cohesive economic zone. Second component is 21st century maritime silk route. Third is that some US analyst say, CPEC is a response to US pivot to Asia initiative. CPEC is considered China’s pivot to Europe.
Zulfiqar Gardezi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in his concluding remarks said, The CPEC will have transformative effect on the region. It compliment priorities; mention in the vision 2025.It would create additional incentive for Central Asia and Afghanistan to prioritize trade linkages with Pakistan, and through Pakistan with other parts of the world.
Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, Head Center for Future Policy; said, ‘we should make the project work for Pakistan and the region. We should not prove that we have all the skills to make things political, but do not have the political wisdom to resolve the issues.’