The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a transformative mega-project and it is already delivering dividends in the form of the completion and early harvest projects related to the Gwadar Port, infrastructure, energy, and industrial development. The project is creating new jobs and businesses on a massive scale.
Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, made these remarks during an interactive discussion with students at the University College London on the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC. Students for the School of Oriental and African Studies also joined the discussion. The event was organised by UCL’s Pakistan Society.
The BRI is China’s trans-continental initiative for promoting economic connectivity between Asia, Europe and Africa. Some 65 countries, including Pakistan, are participating in it; and China plans to invest around US $ 1 trillion in this project.
The President said that the CPEC has thrown up huge opportunities for Pakistan and both Pakistan and China are successfully managing associated risks related to security and political consensus within the country around the mega-project.
“The project is a huge catalyst and not a substitute for Pakistan’s overall economic development, because Pakistan is an emerging economy in its own right destined to be one of top leading economies in the 21st century”, he sad.
Brushing aside India’s objections to the CPEC as “disingenuous”, the President said that India is concerned that the project passes through the disputed territory of Jaummu and Kashmir but has shown no inclination to resolve the issue.
The President said that Pakistan and the United States should remove misgivings and restore the vitality of their relationship. Pakistan, he said, was facing pressure from Washingtin in regard to the war on terrorism in Afghanistan and it was having impact on the CPEC and the BRI-related activities. But the US should understand that CPEC is designed for connecting countries, building transnational communities for prosperity, and creating conditions for peaceful neighbourhoods.
Some countries led by India, Sardar Masood Khan said, were painting the CPEC and the BRI as “disruptive transitions”, whereas these are in fact benign, productive and constructive transformations that would usher in an era of prosperity for half of the world’s population and shape a new global architecture for geopolitical stability. The initiatives are inclusive, not exclusive, he said.