By Hamid Khan Wazir
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), one of the most ambitious components of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative is moving fast towards Mass Industrialization because CPEC is not the name of highways or connectivity rather roads, railway tracks, and gas pipelines in the initial phase of rather they were laid down for providing a base to Mass Industrialization. The target of CPEC is not connectivity rather connectivity is needed for Industrialization. The United States in the early 1930s and the former Soviet Union in the early 50s followed this design of social development. We remember in the former Soviet Union, Industrialization was also mixed with cooperative farming under the Collectivization vision.
CPEC was announced to great fanfare in 2015. The flagship project has been initially dubbed as a “Game Changer” for Pakistan’s economy but now it’s widely considered as “Fate Changer” project for the Country because it is a framework of regional connectivity, which will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have a positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, India, Central Asian Republic, and the region.
The enhancement of geographical linkages having improved road, rail, and air transportation system with frequent and free exchanges of growth and people to people contact, enhancing understanding through academic, cultural, and regional knowledge and culture, the activity of higher volume of flow of trade and businesses, producing and moving energy to have more optimal businesses and enhancement of co-operation will result in well connected, an integrated region of shared destiny, harmony and development.
Besides, CPEC is a journey towards economic regionalization in the globalized world. It founded peace, development, and a win-win model for all of them.
Work on the much-needed project is going in full swing as it no more mere a dream but it is now an irrefutable reality.
Among the most important aspects of the mega project is the expansion and improvement of Gwadar Port, which has great potential for Pakistan, in both economic and regional domains.
Recently, the Chairman of CPEC Authority Asim Saleem Bajwa informed the press that work on all projects especially Gwadar Port is going on a fast track basis as the first phase of Gwadar Free Zone was launched two years ago over 60 acres of land, which was now fully colonized and well-populated.
Lt General (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa said that 6 out of 12 factories had been completed of which one has already started production while the rest are under construction. He said that 4 Port Buses have been completed, customs officers have been deployed and the handling capacity of the port is also being increased gradually.
More importantly, Prime Minister Imran Khan specifically formed a separate focus group aimed at increasing traffic at the seaport. The group is led by the Maritime Ministry while the Commerce Ministry was also its part.
The groundwork on road from Zhob to Quetta has also been started whereas Quetta to Khuzdar, Khuzdar to Awaran and Hoshab, and Khuzdar-Basima roads are also under construction and all of them will be connected with different areas of Balochistan and Sindh with Gwadar. The pace of the work could be judged from the fact that all these routes would be connected within the next three years.
Similarly, on the eastern alignment of CPEC, only one section Sukkur-Hyderabad is left that has already been launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan recently. The request for proposals for this project will be completed under the Public-Private Partnership model, which will be floated within a month, and soon afterward the groundwork will be started.
At present, the government’s full focus is on the western alignment of CPEC and the western alignment routes will be completed in around three years. It is heartening to note that the motorway from Islamabad to Dera Ismail Khan (DI Khan) is at the final stage while the DI Khan to Zhob motorway project has also been approved by the Chinese side.
More importantly, all routes of the western alignment passed through remoter areas where there was extreme poverty, jobs are less and industrial development and infrastructure is very low, thus completion of these projects will usher in prosperity in these areas, as the road projects will not only improve connectivity but will create new job opportunities for the people lining along the roads.
The flagship CPEC is not merely a project limited to road connectives and infrastructure but in the second phase of the fate changer project, the Country primarily focuses on agriculture, particularly economic zones to boost industrialization.
It is worth noting that science, technology, and tourism will also receive particular attention to enhance growth.
In the agriculture sector, the main focus will be on corporate farming and community farming for which the center is working with provinces.
Similarly, for industrialization in Rashakai and Faisalabad, the work is in full swing and a number of industries are being established.
Investors are taking great interest in the Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ), as 1,000 acres of land has been allocated, but about 2,000 applications have so far been received for which 3,600 acres are required.
Likewise, a Canadian and German joint venture has applied for establishing their facility in the Allama Iqbal SEZ in Faisalabad.
Moreover, a group of Pakistani-American doctors is also interested in electro-medical equipment manufacturing. A lot of people were also interested in the Dhabeji Zone in Sindh, which is more suitable for many investors because of the easy approach to Karachi Port.
Keeping in view the growing interest of foreign investors in the Gwadar Free Zone, the government has decided to launch the second phase of the zone spanning over an area of 2,200 acres.
Foreign investors are already showing interest in the second phase that will help bring huge foreign direct investment to the Country.
So, in short, it is good that Pakistan is learning from the Chinese experience, as Chinese growth witnessed a drastic improvement during the last 20 years, while Pakistan, unfortunately, lost the same during the same period.
Therefore, by making use of the current acceleration in the economy, Pakistan can save the future 20 years of learning from the Chinese experience through infrastructure development, planned urbanization, and developing the less developed areas.
Every opportunity always comes with threats link to it and the case is the same with CPEC. Since CPEC is progressing, propaganda and conspiracies against CPEC and Pakistan are also in swing and sometimes Pakistani media also becomes a victim of this propaganda unintentionally and indirectly. Despite all sabotaging attempts by anti-Pakistani elements and anti-CPEC propaganda, it further strengthened Pak-China’s resolve to make the dream a reality and it could be judged from the rapid progress on the project.
In one of her article titled “Indian Propaganda against CPEC and what is to be needed from Pakistan?” the writer and expert of Seimotic and Propaganda Shazia Cheema indicated that Pakistan is under the attack of massive propaganda by our sworn enemy India, counter-attack one must know how words can be used as a weapon; it may sound an over-exaggerated statement but complete knowledge of the functionality of this weapon of mass destruction can give a shiver to a sane person. Words in the form of positive and negative propaganda is an ancient art of war however it is a recent discovery to get the deeper mechanism behind the operation.
She believed that Electronic media swirl the notion of communication from its core and create the utmost demand to understand its mechanics. Words are meaning-making tools and meaning can be created as “agandafied” (An idea based on certain set agenda) must be the crucial debate among other issues in terms of front-line defense. If in future defense system has its communication warfare core, it will not astonish a skeptical observer.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.