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CPEC not in danger!

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Reema Shaukat
ONE way or another this $46bmega project has remained in limelight since its inception. Either there were speculations or controversies on fund distribution by politicians and local populace or this venture grabbed international attention and remained target of their conspiracies. But CPEC moved on with success and still continues to flourish without any odds. Many assumptions are that this project will lose its pace with the change of government or will lose its momentum for development. For those who are pessimistic about this project must know that this project is not bound to political ups and down rather it’s a testimony of 66 years long Pak-China all weather friendship. After the government’s removal China immediately issued a statement about CPEC stating that Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification as Prime Minister would not affect the CPEC project. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang, on the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s verdict which disqualified PM Nawaz Sharif, said that the ruling is Pakistan’s internal affair and would not affect bilateral ties between the two countries. As a friendly neighbour, China hopes that all parties and sections in Pakistan can prioritise state and national interests, properly deal with their domestic affairs, maintain unity, stability, and keep focusing on the economic and social development. Expressing the Chinese government’s stance after the apex court announced its verdict on the Panama case, Lu Kang said, “We believe that the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership will not be affected by the change of the situation inside Pakistan. China stands ready to work with Pakistan to continue jointly building the One Belt and One Road.”This time tested all weather friendship stance was also reiterated by Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa recently on the occasion of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 90th Founding Day. General Bajwa said that “both countries have assumed shared responsibility towards stability in the region and prosperity of our people. This unity of purpose has led to the consolidation and has strengthened our resolve as determined nations, to brave all challenges and storms together”. He said the close collaboration between the two counties spanned over a wider canvas than ever before and ranged across strategic initiatives like China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), defence collaboration in numerous joint projects and united diplomatic front, internationally. While thanking China for standing in hours of need, Army Chief praised China’s efforts as an important strategic player and supporting Pakistan in curbing terrorism. He praised China’s persistent support to Pakistan on the expansion of Nuclear Suppliers Group, Kashmir issue, efforts for reconciliation in Afghanistan particularly at the QCG platform and making Pakistan an important member of SCO. Apart from political storms, it is important that CPEC should continue as it is reflection of stable and prosperous Pakistan. Recently Azerbaijan has aslo shown its willingness to be part of CPEC. The inaugural meeting of the Pakistan-Azerbaijan joint working group on trade was held on 27-28 July 2017 in Baku in which Azerbaijan was invited by Pakistan to join CPEC. This participation of Azerbaijan would not only bring positive economic changes for Baku, but also benefit the Pak-China corridor itself, as Azerbaijan holds a strategic location as a transit hub for East-West China Europe Corridor, a part of the Silk Road plan. This project offers enormous investment opportunities to CARs also therefore providing openings to fortify inter-regional connections. It is notable that Pakistan and China have made it a flagship project from a piece of paper. The two sides agreed that CPEC was an economic game changer and would bring benefits not only for Pakistan and China but for the entire region. It is important that to fully endorse this mega project leadership, collaborative spirit and capacity building at a much higher pace and level should continue to work.
However some analysts believe the project is being weighed down by coordination between federal and provincial governments, lack of clarity about projects and transparency issues. As far as the security of this plan is concerned military is up to the job of providing security and making steady and sure-footed progress in making country terrorism free. Reaffirming the commitment to the CPEC, Army Chief said that Army and law enforcement agencies are vigilant and are determined to providing fool proof security to the CPEC. It is noteworthy that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a framework of regional connectivity and is meant to improve the lives of people of Pakistan and China by building an economic corridor promoting bilateral connectivity. CPEC will not only value China and Pakistan but will have positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, India, Central Asian Republics and the region. Therefore through the augmentation of geographical linkages we have seen improved and new road networks development and anticipate that with passage of time academic, cultural and regional exchanges, people to people contact will enhance volume of CPEC. As this project is considered as win-win model, therefore enhancement of cooperation should not be politics or system bound and continue to work towards integrated regional connectivity with congruence and progress.

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