- Differences should be ironed out through discussion
At a time when Pakistan is facing an unprecedented financial crunch and FDI has shrunk to the minimum, China has committed $60b, the largest ever foreign funding in Pakistan in crucial power, road-cum-rail connectivity sectors and development of industrial zones. Meanwhile the US and a number of countries under its influence have opened a campaign against the BRI and its flagship, the CPEC. The US fears the growing Chinese footprint in the region. Instead of competing with China by investing in Pakistan, Washington is pressurising Islamabad to reduce the level of its economic relations with China. While striving to improve relations with the US, Pakistan must not accept any demand against its national interest.
On Saturday at a joint press conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Shah Mahmud Qureshi assured that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will remain the top priority of the PTI government. He also said the Corridor is aimed at initiating a modern era of trade and economic growth.
Wang Yi was at pains to expose the western propaganda against CPEC. He clarified that once the projects included in it get operationalised, the economic benefits accruing from them would generate enough funds enabling Pakistan, among other things, to pay off its debt. According to Wang Yi, the projects had already helped add one to two percent in Pakistan’s economic growth besides creating 70,000 new jobs. The Chinese Foreign Minister agreed to encourage imports from Pakistan to strive for a greater balance in the two-way trade.
On Sunday a number of suggestions from Pakistan were incorporated in the CPEC plan indicating willingness on the part of the Chinese government to accommodate Pakistan’s preferences. Gwadar will be ‘re-prioritised’ as a hub of heavy industry. China will consider to realign the goals of CPEC by introducing new targets of socioeconomic and regional development in the plan.
Differences might still persist but there is a need to resolve them in a friendly spirit over time. The PTI leadership has to ensure that none of its functionaries becomes wittingly or unwittingly a part of the US anti-CPEC campaign. The urge to expose the PML-N’s policies should not lead to stands that harm Pakistan.