CPEC and Gwadar deep sea port-changing face of Pakistan

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China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is fast becoming life line of Pakistan. The size of the CPEC has been increased to more than $55 billion after China agreed to upgrade the main railway line from Karachi to Peshawar at a cost of $8bn. Major portion of CPEC program will be spent on energy projects to ensure Pakistan enters new era in a bright and enlightened environment. Though the whole of Pakistan and each and every individual of this country will benefit from CPEC many major and less developed areas of Pakistan will be direct beneficiaries of the economic activity generated by this project.
From Khanjerab to Gwadar three main routes will connect the whole of Pakistan to CPEC. These corridors are Western Route, Eastern Route and Central Route. Western route among others may pass through Sust-Gilgit-Batagram-Mansehra-Abbotabad-Kala Bagh Hassn Abdal-D.I.Khan-Zhob-Qilla Saifullah-Quetta-Sorab-Bisma-Hosab-Turbat- and Gwadar. Eastern Route among others is likely to cover Sust-Gilgit-Bataagram-Mansehra-Abbotabad-M2 to Hassan Abdal-Faisalabad-Multan-Sukkar-Shadad Kot-Khuzdar-Basima-Hosab-Turbat- and Gwadar. Multan to Lahore and then M2 is also included in Eastern route. Central Route may find its way, inter alia, from Sust-Gilgit-Batagram-Mansehra-Abbotabad-Hassan Abdal-Mianwali-Layyah-D G Khan-Jacob Abad-Ratho dero-Khuzdar-Basima-Hosab-Turbat- to Gwadar.
These routes are not mere roads linking different cities to the Gwadar Free Zone and deep sea port, they will open new vista of economic opportunities to the locals and others in the region. Many Special Economic Zones and Tax Free Zones can be set up on these routes which will create a number of jobs and give impetus to the much awaited double digit GDP growth of Pakistan. Unfolding of CPEC benefits can reverse the brain drainage of Pakistan i.e., not only those who left Pakistan due to non-availability of job opportunities may return to find this country more lucrative,but also many highly qualified foreigners will reap economic incentives of CPEC.
Heart and soul of CPEC is the Gwadar deep sea port and Gwadar Free Zone. Still in its initial stage when fully developed Gwadar Port is set to have a draft depth of 20 meters, more than 80 berths of Containerised cargo, RORO, clean and dirty bulk, LNG, Liner/Ferry and off-shore loading/unloading terminals. A draft depth of 20 meters means a mother vessel of 20,000 TEUs will be able to call at the port. Currently only feeder vessels of smaller size are calling at the port. The most striking thing is that not only Pakistan and China will be the beneficiaries of CPEC and Gwadar deep sea port almost the whole world will benefit from it in the shape of reduced cost of goods due to shrinking distance between China and the world through Gwadar. China is either number one or two trading partner of almost all the European and major countries of the world. According to an estimate distance between Europe and Eastern China will be reduced by 65% through Gwadar, 78% between Gulf and Eastern China, 50% between Europe and Western China and 38% between Gulf and Western China. It simply elaborates enormity of the level of benefits of CPEC to the whole world.
Throughput of Karachi port and Port Muhammad bin Qasim is not enough to handle shipping activities of Pakistan. Long queues for grounding of containers and congestions on the roads from Karachi to Peshawar have also forced business community to look for an alternative to share the burden of Ports in Karachi and to bring efficiency in transportation of imports and exports. This efficiency will come through Gwadar deep sea port and the designated Western, Eastern and Central routes of CPEC.
Gwadar which has attained the central position in CPEC has population of 185, 498 and the total area of the district is 12,637 square kilometer, according to census of 1998. Most of the population is engaged in fishing and related activities.Coastal frontier of Pakistan is around 1100 kilometer, spread in the west and south-east axis. Not only more than 90% of cross border trade of Pakistan goes through sea, almost 45,000 ships also transit through Pakistan waters on annual basis. To capture the commercial activities of these ships Gwadar Portis poised to play an important role in future. Development of a free zone at an area of 2281 acres in Gwadar will further boost trade in the region.
Gwadar port is future gateway to Strait of Hurmoz. Improved links to land locked Caspian region will give an edge to this port over other ports in the region. This is one of the reasons some regional powers are against the development of this port because they see it as a direct threat to their economic interests. This port will also help Pakistan to monitor the Sea Lines of Communications originating from the Persian Gulf and bottle neck at Strait of Hormuz. Pak-China naval nexus will make maritime communications safer for commercial shipping in Indian Ocean.
To facilitate trade through Gwadar Port a full-fledged Model Customs Collectorate was notified by the Government of Pakistan in 2007 which became fully functional in 2011. This Collectorate is the guardian of 640 kilometers coastline of Balochistan, 350 km of Pak-Iran border and almost 100,000 square kilometers of the province. On the coastal line jurisdiction of this Collecotrate includes two international sea ports- Gaddani shipbreaking yard and Gwadar deep sea port. Somiani, Ormara, Pasni and Jiwaniare thefisheries on the coastline. Two international airports- one in Gwadar and the other one in Turbat- in addition to three land Customs stations on Pak-Iran border are contributing factors of the economic activity covered by the Model Customs Collectorate, Gwadar.
Establishment of a Customs Collectorate in Gwadar is bearing fruit and tax compliance in this area has gone up massively; rather growth wise it might have been thebest in Pakistan when we look at the revenue figures of the Collectorate. During the period July 2016 to December 2016 this Collectorate collected Rs 11.9 billion against a target of Rs 7.2 billion. This collection is 88% more than the corresponding period of the previous financial year when only Rs 6.3 billion were collected. During the first six months of the current financial year anti-smuggling wing of the Collectorate also made record seizure of contraband and non-duty paid items worth Rs 1.7 billions.
All these efforts have put Pakistan on world scene as a fast growing economy of the world. The whole world is taking interest in CPEC and coming around to become a part of this project. Russia, Great Britain, Netherlands and Iran have already expressed their interests publicly to become a partner in CPEC. Looking at the unfolding benefits of CPEC, we can say, the dream of every Pakistani to be recognised as a respected citizen of Pakistan in the world is coming true. We are rightly pinning our hopes on the success of CPEC and looking forward to the days when prosperity, liveliness, pride, attraction, solace and peace will replacepoverty, chronic stream of worries, despondency, extremism and terrorism in Pakistan.
Source: Business Recorder