Dr Ahmad Rashid Malik
Let’s try to get out of launching negative criticism on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Basically, the CPEC is an economic and commercial project of high national importance. It has nothing to do with the governance issues, federalism, politics, provincialism, and the like. Even some economists and business people also pass uncompromising comments on the CPEC and paint it as a negative project for Pakistan that would doom Pakistan and its forthcoming economic dream.
They see a Pakistan sinking in the boat of the CPEC. It is often heard that CPEC is like the East India Company of the 18th century that ultimately invaded India after 1857 and colonialized India. They argue that the CPEC is China’s eye wash and they equate it with the East India Company. Journalists and media often paint a gloomy picture of Pakistan under the CPEC. If this criticism comes from India, Afghanistan, or some other countries, that makes some sense, but unfortunately it comes from within Pakistan.
The CPEC is the most open, widely debated and highly transparent project. Many countries have wished to join the project, ranging over a dozen countries and this number could even go beyond. The United States has not joined the project but even it is not criticising it. India also finds it fully isolated in opposing the project. Many countries that have uneasy ties with China also support the One Belt One Road (OBOR) and appreciate the flagship project of the CPEC. The CPEC has created new awareness and understand with a number of countries. It has become a new diplomatic leverage for Pakistan to convince them to invest in Pakistan as the country is going to provide great Asian connectivity and trade to millions of people and countries.
Many are convinced that the CPEC is a game-changer and it is also a mind-changer. There are discussions in India to join the project. The Kashmiris are longing for it. The desire was expressed by MirwaizUmar Farooq recently. They people of Kashmir openly expressed their desire to become a part of the CPEC to link the valley with China and Central Asia via land route.
The UN General Assembly has been calling to accelerate efforts for regional cooperation including the OBOR. The Americans think that India should had not opposed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) the way America opposed it as told by James Woolsey, a former CIA Director. He called the American decision on AIIB a ”strategic blunder”. India should learn from the American experience and should join the CPEC instead of making a blunder of high magnitude.
China has been offering a project of invaluable importance to Pakistan and its surrounding regions. The CPEC is a project of national importance for Pakistan. The CPEC has been making Pakistan an “Asian Tiger”. The economy of Pakistan is emerging and its GDP has been expanding each passing day. The stock exchange has made history and now regarded the best stock exchange in Asia. The world’s rating agencies have been keep portraying a positive picture of the economy of Pakistan.
The economy would become the 16th by 2030 as rated by the Price Water House. Pakistan’s GDP would be US$ 1.8 trillion, compared to the present day Italy and bigger than Canada, Brazil, and Australia. If the CPEC is such a “disastrous project” and “East India Company’’, then why global rating agencies have been highly up-grading the economy of Pakistan?
Critics should learn some respect. We should send a message to the world and China that we are a responsible nation and appreciate global economic cooperation to become a global economy in the future.