WITH the formal inauguration of Gwadar port by the Prime Minister on Saturday that also coincided with shipment of the Chinese trade cargo for Middle East and African countries, CPEC became operational; a reality which undoubtedly holds key to the prosperity of the entire region. Reportedly a trade cargo convoy comprising 60 containers reached Gwadar on Friday through the western route of the Corridor and a Chinese ship also docked at port to carry goods to its desired destinations.
Under the CPEC the government has rightly prioritised energy and infrastructure projects that are absolutely imperative for facilitating the implementation of other development projects as well as kick-starting an economic revolution. The Gwadar Port becoming operational within a year and half after signing of agreements and MoUs on CPEC is indeed a commendable achievement which reflects the dedication and commitment of the government and the security establishment to complete all projects under CPEC on schedule and within the time-span stipulated in the agreements irrespective of attempts by some powers to sabotage it. Frontier Works Organization actually made this shipment of Chinese goods possible by constructing three road networks in Balochistan including Western route in such a short span of time.
There is no doubt that CPEC apart from proving a game changer for the region would also lift economic profile of all the provinces of Pakistan. Iran is also poised to become part of the CPEC initiative in view of promise that it holds in terms of unleashing an era of economic cooperation between the countries of the region and the avenues of shared prosperity that it will open for all the participating nations. Reportedly IP gas pipeline is also likely to become part of CPEC. The China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau currently engaged in building $ 1.4 billion Gwadar-Nawabshah LNG terminal and pipeline project has indicated its willingness to finance and construct the remaining portion of the pipeline from Gwadar to the Iranian border.
The Minister for Planning and Development gave an exhaustive briefing on CPEC projects as well as the decision making process in regards to their location depending on their technical feasibility and the entire leadership endorsed it without any qualms. But immediately the controversy on route change was triggered. Consequently the government tried its best to assuage their fears reassuring them that no change in the CPEC plans, especially the western route had been made as alleged. In due course the three routes of the Corridor were also notified. Western route originating from Gwadar would pass through Turbat, Panjgur, Nag, Basima, Sorab, Qalat Quetta, Qilla Saifullah, Zhob, D I Khan before leading towards Islamabad. Central route beginning from Gawadar would lead to D I Khan through Basima, Khuzdar, Sukkur, Rajanpur, Layyah, Muzaffargarh and Bakkar.
The eastern route starting from Gawadar would traverse through Basima, Khuzdar, Sukkur, Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalpur, Multan, Lahore and Faisalabad and Islamabad. An incisive look at these proposed routes reveals that no province of the country has been neglected and it is not exclusively beneficial to a particular province as being perceived and alleged. The three routes pass through all the four provinces who would ultimately share the benefits of this venture which has a time-line of 2030 for its completion. In this regards it may be mentioned that work on the section of western route from Burhan to DI Khan is also starting soon and work on Havelian-Burhan section is already underway.
The federal government has repeatedly clarified that at least one economic zone in each province will be constructed along the Corridor and a number of other projects will also come up in due course of time. The projects for energy production envisaged Under CPEC will eventually contribute 17000 MW electricity to national grid. Some of these projects have already been initiated and will be completed by 2018 and some will be started after that. Out of these two projects namely Krote Hydro Power Projet and Sukhi Kinaru Hydro Power Project with a cumulative production capacity of 1590 MW will be installed in KP.
Work on dry port at Havelian which is also in KP is already underway. Experts believe that the biggest beneficiaries of CPEC will be Balochistan and KP. The opposition to CPEC by PTI and KP unfortunately has political undertones and such an irresponsible behaviour could deter the prospective investor from coming to Pakistan. They need to adopt a realistic approach. It is hoped that meeting of the Planning minister with CM KP recently and the reported convening of another APC by the Prime Minister would help in clearing the haze.