Pak-China economic corridor | Pakistan Today

Pak-China economic corridor

Game-changer facing controversy

 

In a groundbreaking agreement last November, the Chinese government committed to invest over $45 billion in China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC). This corridor will connect Gwadar with Chinese city of Kashgar in the Xinjiang autonomous region, through highways, rail link and oil-gas pipelines. This project was dubbed as a “game changer” by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for the region. Recently, CPEC has been in news for its proposed change in route. This proposal has made this entire project controversial from the outset.

The new proposed route bypasses a major portion of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). This change has triggered opposition from politicians of both western provinces. Presently there are three possible routes for this corridor; eastern-route, western-route and a third alternative route.

The government has decided to go on with the eastern-route. This will connect Gwadar with Kashgar via Gadani-Khuzdar-Ratodero-Sukkur-Multan-Lahore-Islamabad-Havelian and then Karakoram Highway which extends to Kashgar. Federal Minister of Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal claims that the eastern route has been chosen at the behest of the Chinese government.

It would bring massive development over the course of time in all the areas it touches, and beyond. Choosing the eastern-route would deprive Balochistan and KP of the economic benefits of CPEC

The western-route for CPEC stretches from Gwadar to Kashgar via Awaran-Ratodero-Naseerabad-Dera Bugti-DG Khan-DI Khan-Swat and it joins Karakoram Highway at Gilgit. This route is not much different from the eastern-route in bypassing majority of the areas in Balochistan.

A third alternative route connects Gwadar to Kashgar via Turbat-Panjgur-Kalat-Quetta-Zhob-DI Khan-Swat and Gilgit. Politicians from Balochistan and KP are demanding that CPEC should be built on this third alternative route. The government, however, claims that the original route for the corridor was the western-route. As a result, confusion still surrounds the original route of this corridor.

There are two factors that need to be considered while choosing the route. The first factor is feasibility. Based on this factor, no doubt, eastern-route is most feasible. Existing road and railway infrastructure, in Sindh and Punjab, will be used in case of easter-Route. Terrain is rigid and extremely difficult for construction on both western and third route. So, eastern route will be completed in shorter period with less costs and hurdles.

Second factor to be considered is the political factor. This proposed corridor is not called game-changer without any reason. It would bring massive development over the course of time in all the areas it touches, and beyond. Choosing the eastern-route would deprive Balochistan and KP of the economic benefits of CPEC. Punjab and Sindh are relatively developed as compared to Balochistan and KP. Choosing the eastern-route will further broaden the economic disparity in favour of Sindh and Punjab. This will consequently aggravate inter-provincial discord. It would further reiterate the assertion that Nawaz Sharif only protects the interests of his constituency ie north Punjab. Therefore, the eastern-route should be avoided at all costs, for political reasons.

Success of CPEC depends on the support of people of Gwadar for this project. That can only be achieved by developing Gwadar in the real sense

Oft-forgotten and the most important stakeholders in this debate are the people of Gwadar. Gwadar is the centre of attention for this entire corridor but ground realities in Gwadar paint a different picture altogether. There is an acute shortage of clean drinking water, lack of basic health care facilities and almost zero employment opportunities in Gwadar city. In such a situation, people of Gwadar would resent any project that would not benefit them. Member of National Assembly from Gwadar, Essa Noori, rejects the project as a means of exploitation and converting local population into a minority. Development of Gwadar is a pre-requisite for successful accomplishment of the Economic Corridor Project and government has, thus far, shown no inclination towards it.

Not everyone has high hopes from the proposed economic corridor. Siddique Baloch, Editor-in-Chief of Balochistan Express, veteran journalist and expert on economic affairs, terms controversy on route change of CPEC as “nonsensical.” According to him, this proposed corridor will pass through Gilgit-Baltistan which is a disputed territory according to constitution of Pakistan and UN resolutions relating to Kashmir. He believes that China would never use a corridor, in the long-term, which passes through a disputed territory. He maintains that China is eyeing the Chabahar port in Iran, situated at a distance of 100 KM from Gwadar, for transit trade.

Will the prophesy of Mr Baloch prove true? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, a decision has to be made on the route quickly because construction work on certain parts of the corridor has already commenced. In the best interests of Pakistan, the third route should be chosen. This decision will result in economic development of Balochistan and KP, which will create economic parity among federating units. This, in turn, will strengthen the federation.

Success of CPEC depends on the support of people of Gwadar for this project. That can only be achieved by developing Gwadar in the real sense. All the politicians and members of civil society who are protesting for change in route of CPEC should, therefore, also protest for much-needed development work in Gwadar.

Adnan Aamir

The writer is a freelance columnist and researcher. He is also editor of The Balochistan Point, Balochistan's only English-language online newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]; and on Twitter: @iAdnanAamir



19 Comments

  1. Ibrahim said:

    Baloch will not accept any unilateral decision of Pak govt…

  2. Abdul Qudus said:

    The columnist has ignored the fact that any of these three routes are passing through some restive regions (two are more dangerous than the third one); unless peace is restored this whole debate is nothing but more than a fantasy. {Current government cannot even guarantee peace in Islamabad}.

  3. Punjabi Munda said:

    This route is game changer only if passes through the four provinces, like from the industrial cities of Punjab and Sindh and covering complete Balochistan , but passing it from only two provinces KPK , Balochishtan will never ever have its impact on Pakistan.

    Punjabi Munda

  4. punjabi munda said:

    This route is game changer only if passes through the four provinces, like from the industrial cities of Punjab and Sindh and covering complete Balochistan , but passing it from only two provinces KPK , Balochishtan will never ever have its impact on Pakistan.

    • punjabi munda said:

      KPK will then Blackmale Punjab like it use to on Tarbella and building of Kalabagh , so the route must passes from industrial cities of Punjab and sindh including complete Balochistan.

      • zishi said:

        your'e a hater don,t be stupid, accept the ground reality and be like pakistani

  5. punjabi munda said:

    Most of the revenue is being generated by Punjab and KPK eat it with out generating any revenue. which industries are there in KPK , they have only one dam built by the money of punjab and nothing more, even then they blackmale punjab. punjab feeds KPK. always,

    • punjabi munda said:

      Federal goveranment have totoal money, out of which 85 % is generated by punjab , and then given to other provinces like KPK but it never blackmaled any province, on the other hand KPK have only one dame built by the money of punjab , on which they black male Pakistan.

      • Aadil said:

        You should study about the revenue of pakistan sources then u will realize that punjab have even less revenue than karachi i will stop here and the rest of reserch on this topic is upto u

    • Aadil said:

      MR punjabi munda with due respect i just ask you to tell me that if KPK is asking its royalty on the mega projects like tarbela etc then what is the problem???. its just like that we are using natural gas through pipelines in Islamabad but Baluchistan have nothing from it is this justice???.
      kakalbagh dam was one issue but our politicians proved that they can't choose another dam in almost 40 years instead of it.
      there are alot of industrial estates in other areas of pakistan which are not in punjab then what is guarantee that punjab will not blackmail other provinces and not block their goods for taxes????
      i think that we should took every stake holder of our country and make this a national corridor not one, two or three provinces corridor.

  6. Khalid said:

    Rout for pak China Economic corridor should touch the four provinces. Govt should design the Rout with the help of China for the economic benefits to all four provinces, not only for the KPK and Balouchstan.

  7. Maqsood Qureshi said:

    Very well explained the factual position. Shabash.

  8. rafique said:

    straight part is better for pakistan western route

  9. rafique said:

    and also for balochistan and pakistan balochistan have desert land and its good for industries not for agriculture

  10. Faisal Adnan said:

    if the PCEC changes then K PK and Baluchistani people will demand separation from Pakistan. because they consider only Punjab as Pakistan not the other provinces. i will pray for unity of beloved Pakistan.

  11. ashrafkhattak said:

    punjab feed kpk?????????? uloooooooooooooooo

  12. zishi said:

    i don,t know most of you guys are complaining that why the route is passing through KPK and Balochistan, every project is base on feasibility and cost and benefit basis, the route which pass through KPK and Balochistan is the shortest route and acceptable for china govt bcz they are the one who invest with alot of risk. and this mega project will be a great opportunity to pick up these two provinces, i guess in the war against terrorism KPK and their peoples gave great sacrifices, why you people not considering this fact, its time to think like pakistani not punjabi, sindhi, balochi or pakhutuns

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