Water: The water availability question in Gwadar is serious, but always brushed under the carpet to avoid discussion. A hackneyed answer is that dams will be constructed. However, dams do not produce water, they only store available water. And, in Gwadar and all along the Balochistan coast, rains are the only source of water. And rains are erratic, with drought periods extending to 3 years or more.
The other source of water is the sea — i.e., desalination. However, desalination is exorbitantly expensive. Here again, providing a permanent subsidy from the budget will lead to an exploding budget deficit; leading to the possibility of hyper-inflation or crippling tax rises. Given the strategic importance of Gwadar and the imperative to develop the port, a water solution is essential and one source is the sea. However, a financing plan needs to be developed, with a permanent built-in cross-subsidy from a Gwadar port-related revenue source. If Pakistan’s cost of providing water to Gwadar is greater than Pakistan’s share in Gwadar Port revenues, CPEC is a losing proposition.
The above are expressions of potential pitfalls. All of them can be coped with, provided they are recognised upfront — and managed. If not, it is a moot point whether future historians will be writing about CPEC as a game changer or game over!