Reviving CPEC | Editorial

The Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan will be in China on 7-8 October. The main agenda of Khan’s visit will be discussing China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with the Chinese authorities. Since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has come to power, all the enthusiasm surrounding CPEC has died down. Things were going at a fast pace until the previous government of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) was overseeing the project. However, the PTI government, facing an economic crisis as soon as it came to power, decided to slow down the economy to get out of the financial crunch. But is it correct to say that it was only natural that the government’s decision of slowing down the economy would have an impact on the pace of CPEC projects?
Ideally, the government should not have allowed the CPEC projects to suffer from its reforms and decisions that it made to boost up its economy. The government should have thought of a financial arrangement that could ensure carrying of the CPEC projects. If one can ask, then it is pertinent to ask what will change now in the government’s policies to revive the stalled projects of the economic corridor? All local news reports inform one that the government is holding one meeting after another on gauging the progress of the commercial corridor ventures. But the outcome of all such meetings is nothing but vows of “accelerating work on the stalled projects.”
China considers CPEC the flagship project of its ambitious One Road One Belt (OBOR) mega project. Many have thought of the flagship project as a game-changer for the region. Both China and Pakistan believe that the project is a win-win endeavour not only for Beijing and Islamabad but also for the whole region. PM Khan will be in China to persuade the Chinese authorities regarding Pakistan’s commitment to do all that is necessary to complete the CPEC projects. However, the real challenge before the PM will be to remove the bottlenecks that are causing delays in CPEC projects, as he has conceded himself.
That said, PM Khan must reissue directions to all concerned with the economic corridor to live up to Chinese expectations. Needless to say that timely completion of CPEC is a practical test for the incumbent government that claims that it will attract foreign investments by focusing on “ease of doing business”. So far, the government has failed in bringing private Chinese investment leave alone thinking of foreign direct investment from other countries.

October 4, 2019

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