By Asia Maqsood
CPEC project is of great importance for both China and Pakistan. China’s government is striving to consume its supporting role to build an environment for the open economic system and logistic system under CPEC. It is considered as the corridor of peace, prosperity and development having potentials for a promising future of Pakistan. It has a transformational impact on Pakistan’s economic domain. This mega project is helping Pakistan in improving the infrastructure, energy requirements, workforce development and economic progress. Both China and Pakistan have set up the Joint Cooperation Committee to promote the construction of CPEC project (2013-2030). It needs the mutual efforts of governments, companies and all social sectors of China and Pakistan.
Discussing the energy sector under CPEC, there were 16 projects prioritized with the total capacity of 10,400MW as well as 8 actively promoted projects. Year 2017 has witnessed the operationalization of 2x660MW Sahiwal Coal-Fired Power Plant, 50MW Dawood Wind Farm and 50MW Sachal Wind Farm. Near to completion are the 900MW Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park in Bahawalpur (90% work has been done) and 100MW Jhimpir Wind Farm. 2x660MW Port Qasim Coal-fired Power Plant, 4x330MW Engro Thar Coal-fired Power Plant and Surfice Mine in Block II of Thar Coal Field, 720MW Karot Hydro-Power Project, and 873MW Suki Kinari Hydropower Project are under construction.
Year 2017 has witnessed the seventy percent completion of the two infrastructure projects; KKH PhaseII(Havelian- Thakot Section),120 km, Karachi-Lahore Motorway (Sukkur-Multan Section),392 km. Rest of the infrastructure projects are working on their pace while the spine of the CPEC Railway Line ML-1’s complete feasibility report has been compiled up for the further progress. An efficient and fast transportation network is vital importance for the economic development.
In the area of industrial cooperation under CPEC, there are six projects under construction and year 2018 will be witnessing their destiny. China has advantages in experience, technology, financing and industrial capacity, while Pakistan enjoys favorable conditions in resources, labor forces and market. By carrying out industrial cooperation, both sides will achieve mutual complementarity and win-win results.
Year 2017 marked a landmark achievement for Pakistan as Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that CPEC Long Term Plan would be public on 18th of December 2017 which would further add the prospects for more inclusive research of this mega project. Simultaneously, there are bright prospects to jack up the developments in various sectors which include agriculture, information technology. This demonstrates the success of this meeting and the willingness of China to diversify its cooperation under the CPEC project. In this backdrop, the harmony between the provincial and federal governments is required and they should work enthusiastically for the inclusion of more projects under CPEC and to complete the ongoing projects. It can be hoped that the end result would be productive and the project will be able to proceed. The continuity of the meetings of Joint Cooperation Committee since 2013 to Nov 2017 shows the evaluation and progress of work on the ongoing projects under CPEC. 7th JCC has further deepened mutual cooperation between the two countries under the framework of CPEC and would pave a clear way for Pakistan to enter the phase of Industrial Cooperation.
Furthermore, CPEC is not limited to just a road, but it will connect with numbers of motorways and infrastructure projects included Gwadar Port, the second phase of the upgrading project of Karakoram highway, motorway project between Lahore and Karachi, Нakot- Havelian motorway, Gwadar port expressway, it will improve the situation of energy, finance, commerce, banking, industry, and education.
CPEC has helped Pakistan to mitigate the chronic energy crises which have negative impacts on the economic growth of Pakistan. This energy shortage has hampered the industrial production and the businesses were closed down because of the interrupted supply of energy. CPEC project has played a significant role in this regard whereas WAPDA and KESC failed to resolve this problem of energy shortage. CPEC energy projects based on the wind, solar, coal and hydro power would create the generation of 16,400 MW.
According to recent report of Centre for International Development at Harvard, the higher growth rates depends upon the gains in productive capabilities and Pakistan’s predicted annual growth rate for next ten years is 5.0 percent. Its immediate neighbors China and India will grow by 4.28 percent and 6.8 percent respectively. Pakistan’s economy would be revolutionized through infrastructure build-up by China’s huge assistance. China not only assists Pakistan at regional level but also at global forums. It has offered Pakistan to bear 80 percent financial cost of two Karachi nuclear power plants of 2100 megawatt, ready to sell 8 conventional submarines to Pakistan Navy and cooperated in the production of JF-17 Thunder. China’s assistance in uplifting of Pakistan’s economy would bring immense opportunities for Pakistanis. Additionally, according to published World Economic Forum Report (WEFR), Pakistan has been placed/ranked 115th out of 137 countries in 2017 while it was 126th in 2016 (CPEC lifts Pakistan up in the world competitiveness rankings by helping Pakistan’s economy.)
The multidimensional CPEC project is receiving the highest level of government interest in both countries. It is on the way in realizing the goal of bringing mutual prosperity to the two countries with the development of Gwadar Port, fibre optical links, establishment of new infrastructure and a host of energy-cooperation projects. Simultaneously, it is facing some challenges ahead. Pakistan’s economic development is its key principle through CPEC. Hence progress has been started on their joint initiatives to develop Gwadar Port as commercial and international port. It is first priority of Pakistan to safeguard its territorial integrity and national interest in every single project under CPEC.
Initially Leaked CPEC Long Term Plan (Dawn) was not talking about the agriculture. However, now, in this LTP report, the major portion has been earmarked for the agricultural field. Everything is connected with each other as the development in infrastructure brings revolution in the agricultural technology. Investment in the road infrastructure reduces the cost of transportation. The improvement in the quality of the roads leads to the increment of 20 or 35 percent in the purchasing power of the farmers according to the season. Likewise, poor infrastructure has adverse impact on the export of agriculture output because farmers have usually low access to credit in almost all developing countries which could be a hurdle in purchasing the inputs used in farms. It is also observed that markets located at distance are the main hurdle to use fertilizers and to sell the agricultural products. Various types of infrastructure and agricultural output growth are directly proportional. If the irrigation infrastructure is developed, the revolutionary changes in agricultural output are inevitable by enhancing the land use intensity and provide incentives to farmers to use productivity increasing inputs. Rural electrification increases the irrigated area and also irrigation facilities. Resultantly the output of crops cultivated through underground irrigation system which is always higher than those under canal or tank irrigation. Hence, one could be optimistic about the CPEC project that the development of infrastructure brings revolution in agriculture technology all along the other sectors and this year has witnessed that the CPEC is getting mature with the passage of time by countering all the hurdles.
Asia Maqsood is an Independent Researcher. She has done M. Phil in Defence and Strategic Studies from Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad. Her Area of Research is China Pakistan Strategic Partnership and CPEC and South Asia’ Strategic Issues. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.