Sweetlin Brahmachary Writes: The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an alignment of projects between China and Pakistan which is currently under progress at a cost of $46 billion. This Corridor is an expansion of China’s 21st century Silk Road initiative which has strengthened the China-Pakistan relations. Several infrastructure projects which are supposed to be carried out under the CPEC connect the Pakistani city of Gwadar with the Xinjiang in the North West China via numerous railways and highways. As a part of the project, construction of the new Gwadar deep water port in Pakistan is almost done. Million tons of cargo will be transported from this port for the furtherance of other projects under CPEC. Besides the province of Gwadar, Pakistan will immensely benefit from the establishment of the ‘Pak- China Science, Technology, Commerce and Logistic Park’ near Islamabad. Over 10,000 mega watts of electricity generation will be developed between 2018-2020 in various parts of Pakistan (Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). A long natural gas pipeline is also planned to be built from Gwadar to Nawabshah as a result of this project.
Certainly, Pakistan is not leaving any stone unturned to cooperate with China for the implementation of the numerous developmental projects under CPEC. Although the corridor is of great significance to the China-Pakistan nexus, India has shown its disapproval for this economic corridor. This was primarily due to the geographic location of the CPEC. The route of CPEC runs through Gilgit Baltistan. It is one of the Pakistan occupied Kashmir areas which has remained an area of tension since the last many years. The area often experiences firing across the borders. Even before the Indian Prime minister’s visit to Beijing last year, India has remained clear with its stance strictly against the CPEC project. China almost ignored India’s concern regarding the corridor, calling it an ‘economic project’. CPEC forms a part of China’s thirteenth 5year plan. It will reduce its maritime distance with Africa and Middle East. Thus, it appears on analyzing the magnificence of the $46 billion project, it is likely that both the nations will not consider India’s discontent on CPEC. On April 12, 2016, a statement given by the Pakistan Army Chief-Raheel Sharif at a conference indicated his unhappiness with India’s objection. He said, “I must highlight that India, our immediate neighbor, has openly challenged this development initiative (CPEC).” Estimating the massive infrastructure, trade and investment development that Pakistan will gain, it further confirmed that they will protect the $46 billion project from their Indian counterparts by all means.
To conclude, it could be said that both China and Pakistan are at a win- win situation. China takes a leap forward to contain India in its own neighborhood and expand its strength while Pakistan will recover from being an almost failed state to a growing economic hub. This will act as a game changer in the Asian geopolitics which the rest of the world is awaiting to watch. Considering every dimension of the CPEC, I think China could have executed such a huge line of project without involving any such disputed area which would cause another third party’s concern to rise. It can be viewed as one of the deliberate attempts of China- Pak nexus to contain India. Hence, the solution in this respect for India is to closely observe the pace of progress of the CPEC and take necessary steps towards surveillance for preparing itself in case of any adversary. Finally, India must extensively engage in dynamic economic and strategic ties with nations in China’s neighborhood to expand its international relations.