Prof Dr Javed Iqbal Saani
Developments are underway in connection with the silk road being constructed. Apparently, China is providing financial resources and Pakistan had offered her homeland. The former had emerged as an economic power who is delivering her cost-effective products to the world. The country has to import raw material to fuel her industry. Most of such are being imported from the Middle East; the current route is not only long but also insecure. The Western part of China is the home of only 6% of its population but more than 50% of its geographical area. Consequently, is relatively less developed than the eastern part. The Western part is also landlocked.
Pakistan wanted the financial injection to its hungry barren lands; CPEC offers the opportunity. Pakistan needs much-needed infrastructure to boost economic development. Roads, railway tracks, and airports are part of the project. A seaport is in addition to the program; the seaport will be dedicated for the purpose. However, it will also play a significant role in the defense of the country. To be honest, the proposed seaport should have developed decades ago for this purpose. Unfortunately, it did not happen. Anyway, late comer is better than its counterpart.
Pakistan can take more benefits provided internal resources are also injected in the sides of the project. For instance, link roads can be constructed to include the unreachable areas; existing cities and towns can also be connected with addition roads and rails tracks. Because the silk road works as a backbone upon which other developments can take place. Industrial estates can be established. If China can sell the products to the Middle East and beyond from Kashghar, then why Pakistan cannot do it from FATA to Gwadar? It is the need of the time that such estates should be developed on urgent basis. Also, education institutes along with the corridor is needed. It may include education cities and institutes of higher education. The deprived areas need primary and secondary education, so schools be developed. Cottage industry is another viable option; it is an established fact that country like Japan traveled the journey of industrialization on the basis of small industry.
It is also important to improve the law and order situation in the country as a whole and alongside the corridor especially. To make it more acceptable, political parties should also be taken on board and their concerns need to be addressed.
The project also needs to redefine our foreign policy so that our Western brother countries should not feel it a threat to themselves. Their inclusion would strengthen the benefits of the project. It would make it a strategic investment for long-term. Nevertheless, the contemporary political scenario makes it a complex endeavor. It is the irony of fate that India has developed strategic relations with our neighbors and is working and investing on a parallel project (Chabahar port). Our relations with Iran are not very cordial due partially to our strategic relations with Saudi Arabia. The differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia are getting wider and wider day by day. We need to play a significant role between them to normalize their relations. A similar situation exists with Afghanistan; the war in Afghanistan was won through our sacrifice but its benefits are being harvested by our enemies. It suggests that we should redefine our foreign policy in order to gain the true benefits of CPEC.