Initially, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was meant to further enhance regional connectivity through energy & food security, immense greater socio-economic integration, massive infrastructural development and last but not the least, development of seaports and railways etc. But it has now become a living miracle.
Most of the projects of its phase-I have now been completed and playing positive role in the macro-economy of the country. Completion of various energy projects have become value-addition to overcome on energy deficit. It has now become savior of national economy and sustainable regional connectivity.
Moreover, the work on CPEC Phase-II has now gained momentum during the last few weeks, reconfirming strong political will and mutual trust and determination to complete all the projects under the framework of CPEC as soon as possible.
In this connection, the groundbreaking of two mega hydel power projects worth $11 billion, advancement in talks with the Chinese side on financial matters of $7.2 billion ML-1 railway project, materializing special economic zones, speedy development of the Gwadar port city and expanding the scope of CPEC by including agriculture, science, technology, health and tourism sectors affirm that work on the game-changer & fate-changer mega project is achieving high levels of efficacy, productivity, utility and, of course, creating living miracles to achieve desired goals of socio-economic prosperity in the country.
Both government are eager to implement its phase-II as soon as possible and in this regard, federal government is rigorously working on the CPEC Authority Bill 2020 which after approval will further empower the Authority to ensure easy and smooth sailing and progress of the projects without any delay.
Being prominent regional expert of CPEC and BRI, I hope this will definitely remove undue bureaucratic make-overs, administrative overlapping and fix procedural flaws and provide a one-window facility to the local and foreign investors to make investment in its Phase-II. It will also further enhance its consultation capacity, approval mechanism and last but not the least execution and implementing apparatus. Converging of ministries and some important organs of the state is not an extra-constitutional step or bar on democracy as depicted by some regional newspapers rather it is a giant step towards corporate governance, better consultation, coordination and execution indeed.
According to CPEC Authority nine out of 17 energy projects have been completed and eight others are under construction, while the work on remaining five is yet to start. During the month of July 2020 the country witnessed a landmark achievement in the hydel power production with inauguration of construction work on the mega projects of Diamer-Bhasha Dam and Azad Pattan Hydel Power Project. It will be a giant step towards environment friendly and cheap energy source in the country because thermal energy generation has been expensive.
Being prominent regional expert of CPEC & BRI, I expect that start of hydro-power generation projects under the framework of the CPEC would be vividly ratified imbalanced energy mix and help produce cheap and clean energy and also bring thousands of acres of barren agricultural land under cultivation, besides attracting $11 billion foreign investment and producing over 6,000MW of electricity. Government of Pakistan is also trying to replace imported coal with local coal in all the coal-based power projects as mining in Thar is in progress.
Western Route of CPEC to Dera Ismail Khan (DIK) Motorway is near completion while the road project from DIK to Zhob is now being taken to the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), whereas work on Hoshab-Awaran Road is also being initiated soon.
Massive industrialization is one of the important elements of the CPEC phase-II. It would increase productivity and exports would see a big jump with reduction in imports and jobs creation for labour and human resource after the development of special economic zones (SEZs) in the country. In this regard, three out of nine priority SEZs including Rashakai in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Allama Iqbal in Punjab and Dhabeji in Sindh province are under construction. Some 1,000 acres of land had been procured for Rashakai SEZ, the groundbreaking of Allama Iqbal SEZ in Faisalabad had been done and tenders opened for Dhabeji SEZ, which would be built on 3,000 acres of land. Moreover, the process for relocation of Chinese industry in Pakistan is in progress. The Chinese companies have shown keen interest to invest in all the three SEZs. It is healthy sign that big Chinese companies are showing interest in corporate farming in Pakistan.
It is suggested that there should be public-private partnership (PPP) in this sector wherein the Chinese companies should be clubbed with local companies and business houses which would promote business to business cooperation of the two countries. CPEC Authority should also explore to seek help from Chinese companies to transform millions of acres of barren lands and deserts into cultivation. Chinese companies have professional expertise to cultivate crops even in deserts.
Most recently, while attending a webinar held by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) CPEC Authority Chairman Lieutenant General (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa assured to bring CPEC’s socio-economic benefits to the general masses as the mega project enters the second phase. He said the development of Gwadar port will soon be completed which would bring prosperity in remote regions along the road and projects. He further shared that Gwadar port has achieved optimal utilization and contributing good things for the development of blue economy in the country. He added that Gwadar East Bay Expressway and Gwadar airport are under construction and will soon connect the mega city to rest of Pakistan and the world. He elaborated that Gwadar project has exceeded its primary goal of mobilizing a deep seaport and extends to encompass development of Gwadar Economic District and socioeconomic progress in South Balochistan.
On his part, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing appreciated strategic collaboration and economic partnership between Pakistan and China under the framework of the CPEC and development of Gwadar port.
CPEC’s phase-II is “guarantor” of Pakistan’s socio-economic prosperity, massive industrialization, and development of agro economy, tourism, health and formation of “equitable” and “befitting” Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Being “strategic” ally of Pakistan, China should follow policy of “accommodation” in the inclusion of new energy projects (hydro, renewables), corporate farming, modern water irrigation system, development of hybrid seeds and environment friendly fertilizers in the CPEC Phase-II.
This article was originally published at: https://pakobserver.net/cpec-a-living-miracle/
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.