Completing CPEC ‘at all costs’


The government has done the right thing by putting to rest any doubts about timely completion of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor). There were doubts, especially as economies the world over took a big hit from the coronavirus pandemic, that something as ambitious as the Corridor might be put on the backburner for a while, even if it is not written off altogether. But both Chinese and Pakistani authorities made it crystal clear late last week that no matter what happens this project will be completed on time. That alone ought to be enough to make regional markets rally when they open in the new week, since keeping the project going will require continuous trade and infrastructure investments that should keep the whole continent happy.
Needless to say, of course, that despite all the problems caused by the pandemic this project will bring good news for both countries; and a whole host of others as well. For China, it is just one part of the huge BRI (Belt and Road Initiative), but an extremely crucial one. And for Pakistan, it will help build modern infrastructure up and down the country which will benefit the people and the economy in many more ways than just trade from the Corridor. In fact, the prime minister went the extra mile and stressed that nothing was going to impact the timeline for the completion for CPEC because he understands just how big a revolution in jobs and trade it is going to bring about very soon. All that is left now is to make sure that the timeline is respected and any irritants – which always prop up now and then in such huge projects – are handled in time and the original schedule is not disturbed. For any inconsistency would go on to impact not just our rate of progress but the entire project, of which Pakistan is just one part.
The Chinese government must be appreciated for keeping CPEC so high on its agenda even though it has had its hands full for a while, first with the trade war with the US, then the pandemic, and now with a cold war of sorts building with the Americans. It goes to show just how deep the bonds of friendship are between Beijing and Islamabad, which is why Chinese investment in CPEC is being thought of as something like the famous Marshall Plan, which enabled USA to help a devastated Europe to rebuild after the Second World War. With CPEC, this friendship will surely reach new heights.