By Sadia Kazmi
The robust economic dimension to the China-Pakistan relations is something that wasn’t as central to the ties before, even though the diplomatic and military cooperation was always there. CPEC is the manifestation of this growing economic cooperation between the two with its total worth being around US $ 62 million. This massive investment by Chinese in Pakistan is the maximum that the latter has ever received in the history from any other state. This large sum of money coming in, promises to uplift the local economic situation in Pakistan in addition to bringing socio-political advantages in terms of stability and development. Another dimension to it is the regional and global image augmentation as an emerging economy. Pakistan, owing to its strategic position at the crossroads of various regions, holds great importance not just within South Asia or for China but also for the US. The Afghan Policy of the US is bound to be incomplete without employing the services and resources of Pakistan.
A stable and economically viable Pakistan hence is in the interest of the US. Not just that but the continued efforts against the global terrorism have been made successful only because of the immense sacrifices and genuine efforts of Pakistan in the US War on Terrorism (WoT). So, the stability of Pakistan is directly linked with the stability of the region, stability of the Muslim world and to the world free from the menace of terrorism. An economically attractive Pakistan as investment destination will be a good market for not just the Chinese but for the Americans and other states too. Hence, this project should not be seen as a threat by the US or India, instead as a source of regional and global stability along with being a potential market provider to the world. The interests should be seen as converging instead of in clash with each other. It is not to forget that the state security is essentially hinged to the economic stability. Hence, it is not wrong to say that with the economic stability of Pakistan, hinges the regional development and security interests too.
Geopolitically as well, it has implications for the adjacent regions including the Central and West Asia. Sharing border with China, Afghanistan, India and Iran makes Pakistan an important entity for these states. Hence even though the CPEC is a bilateral project but not just Pakistan is a stakeholder in this project but these countries are as well. Second most populous Muslim world and a nuclear power in the region, makes Pakistan’s relevance unavoidable even for those who don’t let any chance go by to isolate Pakistan for their own vested strategic interests i.e. India. However, this also merits attention to certain challenges which continue to plague the socio-political landscape of the country. Some are internally driven while others are externally cultivated. The careful examination and evaluation of these factors as protentional hiccups in the way smooth implementation of the CPEC project is very important. Terrorism, political upheavals, extremism etc. are the most pressing issues coupled with the weak economy.
The intentional community needs to understand that Pakistan as a potential market economy will be a source of less worry and hence should mutually support this initiative by China in making Pakistan economically strong and a secure state. US definitely will have to reevaluate its policy options with Pakistan. The awful phase Pak-US relations at present need to readdressed on the basis of needs, requirements and vulnerabilities of each state. An economically stable Pakistan will not be a “challenge” for the US as was tagged as one by the Trump administration in the strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. By supporting and encouraging the CPEC, the US will not only facilitate the economic and development options for Pakistan but will also find business opportunities within Pakistan. Ultimately all could be the beneficiary in this mega economic project.