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Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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EditorialOn way to new CPEC

On way to new CPEC

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has gone to Pakistan’s friendly neighbour China on a two-day official visit. Sharif was one of the first heads of government to be invited to China after the 20th summit of the Chinese National Congress. On this visit, the prime minister will be meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. The team, including Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari,  Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Railways Minister Saad Rafique, and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, will focus on the revitalization of CPEC. The team will be working towards advancing wide-ranging bilateral cooperation agendas with the conclusion of several MoUs and agreements in various areas. Additionally, they want to maintain the momentum of CPEC cooperation following the 11th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee on October 27.

During the PTI government, CPEC lost much of its momentum. Although the projects were ongoing, they lost the pace at which they were working earlier. This was due to several reasons. In Gwadar, the Baloch Nationalists held protests and attacked many sites, which resulted in the lack of completion of the fence. In other areas as well, there were some terror attacks on Chinese nationals working on the projects. This led to a hiatus, which will now be resolved with the Prime Minister’s visit to China. Other than that, the COVID-19 pandemic also played a major role in halting many of the projects as much of the country was closed off.

Pakistan has a reliable friend in China. Both countries have supported each other countless times and plan to do so in the upcoming years. Political parties have never doubted China’s friendship with Pakistan as they have done with the US. Moreover, China has invested in Pakistan more than any other country in the last few decades.

The CPEC project is likely to make Pakistan one of the largest economic hubs in the region. Although the projects are being completed at a slower pace, once completed they will give high returns to both countries. Even if China takes the bigger slice of the pie, the research and development and knowledge coming into the country are likely to enhance efficiency and create several jobs for the locals. Moreover, as Gwadar developed into an international standard port city, many landlocked countries in the region will be interested in using it for their transport, and this will earn a significant amount for Pakistan.

The Pakistani government needed to work towards the revival of CPEC as Pakistan is in dire need of some economic boom at the moment. The PML-N government has set its priorities right and is working towards creating an economically sound country. The damage done earlier is significant and it will have to be undone, such steps are necessary. However, with the developing political instability and increase in terror attacks, the state will have to take necessary measures to provide an adequate amount of security and stability for the resumption of old projects.

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