Presenting budget for the next fiscal year in the National Assembly on June 11, this year, Federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said that in the budget, the government has also focused on the projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It has proposed 9.3 billion rupees for the development of railway project Main Line-1—to improve the North-South communication of the country and to facilitate commuters and traders, including the Gwadar port and special economic zones (SEZs) to create jobs and push the growth wheel for the country—Further tax relaxations will be given to investors interested in the SEZs under the CPEC.
However, CPEC which is part of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) or China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is rapidly developing. CPEC will prove to be a gateway to prosperity for the both countries as well as the region. Under the project, Beijing is investing as much as $62 billion in various sectors in Pakistan.
In this regard, the Chairman of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority Lt. General (R) Asim Salem Bajwa stated on May 4 and May 31, 2021: “Gwadar port has been made fully operational and now online booking for delivery of goods can be made…the work on Phase-II of Gwadar Free Zone is underway and other projects connected to Gwadar port have also been expedited in last two and a half years…The western alignment routes of the CPEC will be completed in around three years …work is underway from Islamabad to Dera Ismail Khan and from Dera Ismail Khan to Zhob…completion of these projects will usher in prosperity in these areas.”
The chairman further said: “We are moving beyond infrastructure to focus on agriculture, particularly economic zones to boost industrialization… science, technology and tourism would also receive attention to enhance growth… foreign investors were already showing interest in the second phase that would help bring huge foreign direct investment in the country.”
He clarified that the CPEC is a national project and “no power in this world can stop this project from being successful.”
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated the resolve to complete the CPEC at all cost.
In August, last year, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved the up-gradation of existing Mainline-1, the 1,872 kilometer railway project from Peshawar to Karachi. The existing 2,655 kilometer track would be upgraded, while the speed of passenger trains would increase.
Besides, under the CPEC, energy projects have already made progress.
The CPEC will open new doors of development relating to various fields, as the national economy of the country will grow fast, leading to creation of new job opportunities and poverty reduction, increasing exports.
The establishment of CPEC between deep Gwadar seaport of the Balochistan province and the historic Silk Road city in Western regions-Xinjiang of China will connect Gilgit-Baltistan through Khunjerab Pass, while the roads infrastructure in Gwadar would link the communication network of rest of the country to facilitate transportation of goods.
When Gwadar seaport becomes fully operational, it would connect the landlocked Central Asian states with rest of the world. The port is likely to increase volume of trade, bringing multiple economic and financial benefits to Pakistan. It will enable high-volume cargo vessels to move in the major oceans, giving China’s short and easy access to the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
In fact, when during the regime of the President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan initiated the construction of Gwadar seaport with Chinese assistance, sirens went off in the capitals of some European countries, especially the US, India and Israel which took it as a threat to their global and regional plans.
Notably, India was openly opposing the CPEC and China’s OBOR or BRI; the US also joined New Delhi. In this context, on October 3, 2017, the then US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Lawmakers, “The United States has reiterated its support for India’s opposition to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative…the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor a part of which traverses Pakistan-Kashmir.”
Islamabad and Beijing rejected Mattis’ statement and reminded that Washington had also participated in an OBOR summit—the OBOR plan which was also backed by the United Nations—CPEC was an economic cooperation initiative.
In May, 2020, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells had once again criticized BRI and CPEC by saying that the US was concerned about CPEC projects due to the unfair rates of profits that are guaranteed to Chinese firms. The Chinese Embassy called her statement totally baseless by stating: “We take Pakistan as an equal partner and never asked Pakistan to do more.”
Nonetheless, India and some Western countries and their media have started spreading untruthful propaganda about the CPEC. They are also utilizing some social media platforms-fake websites for this purpose.
For instance, in a recent blog on a website, the writer distorted the facts and wrote: “China halted CPEC projects…due to political fragility, increased interference of security agencies and the army establishment.”
Taking cognizance of foreign entities’ hostile propaganda, Lt. Gen. (R) Bajwa on August 23, 2020, appealed the general public to ignore disinformation of all fake news and stories regarding the CPEC.
The Chinese government has, repeatedly, dismissed the criticism of the CPEC as a Western propaganda.
While, Gwadar seaport project which is backbone of the CPEC will uplift the impoverished people of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, including developments in other backward areas by redressing their grievances, which the hostile elements, supported by the US, India and Israeli do not want.
Moreover, propaganda against the CPEC coincided with the terror attacks in Pakistan’s various regions, particularly in Balochistan to destabilise the country, as intelligence agencies such as CIA, RAW, Mossad and Afghan NDS which are also assisting Balochistan’s separatist elements, want to damage the CPEC.
At this juncture, the media of China and Pakistan must continue countering untruthful propaganda against the CPEC.