As we know that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an important part of the Chinese massive ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) transcontinental and trans-oceanic initiative. The port of Gwadar will connect China with Central Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe through a network of rail, road and motorways envisioned under the project, which aims to economically uplift underdeveloped China’s western region of Xinjiang.
While the entire world looks at the CPEC through the same lens, an unprecedented anti-CPEC campaign is being unleashed by hostile elements, including India, at various international fora and organizations with the aim to scuttle the project and deprive Pakistan of its benefits. Efforts are aimed at creating controversies and mistrust of the people in the mega projects through various means and exploiting fault-lines in the society.
It is being claimed that Chinese military bases are planned in the coastal belt and Gwadar Port, aimed at occupation of native resources. There are also claims about designs of Chinese aggression in the Arabian Sea. It is said that Pakistan will become a Chinese colony and a puppet. Existence of political differences, concerns over CPEC projects and equitable share of provinces/Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) are being highlighted. The Indians are now terming GB as a disputed area between Pakistan and India. It has also been stated that CPEC’s projects are Punjab-centric. Exploitation of resources of Balochistan, projects being undertaken against the will of the people of Balochistan and Sindh and demographic changes in Balochistan are being claimed. It is claimed that the Western route is being neglected and is not a part of the project. Also, Pakistan will not be able to provide security to Chinese, especially in Balochistan, due to the prevalent law and order situation. Or the misconception that Pakistan will be economically subjugated by China as terms and conditions of investments being made by Beijing are beyond Pakistan’s capacity.
Bristling with lies, it has been even claimed that CPEC has a high degree of possibility of “becoming a thriving ground for trans-national terrorism”. It has been crudely stated that “anti-state sentiment in Xinjiang will only exacerbate the likelihood for militant ideologies to connect across the CPEC”. Or CPEC is like throwing a spanner in regional security and stability of South Asia.
The fact is that all such allegations and misconceptions are absurd and have been denied by the government again and again. CPEC is neither against any country nor has any hidden agenda. It is a manifestation of deeper and credible relations between China and Pakistan for the betterment of the people of the region. The project will open new vistas for prosperity and peace in the region if capitalised positively. The project does not have military designs; CPEC is an economic project aimed at linking the region with economic opportunities for the participating countries.
Certainly, the project will bring prosperity and connectivity, thus reducing space for terrorists for operations in the region. As a socio-economic project, it will provide for the uplift of people in the least developed areas of Balochistan, Sindh, GB and KP. The project will engage youth in jobs and will reduce their vulnerability and exposure to extremist teaching and elements. Also, through connectivity, there would be better prospects for exploration of natural resources as well as their use for economic uplift of the concerned area. CPEC is also a windfall opportunity for Pakistan’s largely ignored maritime sector.
For the antagonists and those ideologically opposed to CPEC, the situation is downright depressing and is causing great distress. CPEC is a cohesive project, a game changer for the region. It is more or less on the ground and will only accelerate in the times to come.