A roundtable discussion, entitled ‘CPEC: 10 Years and On,’ held at the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), has shed light on a notable aspect of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The forum underscored that CPEC’s investment opportunities not confined solely to Pakistan and China but extend an invitation to other nations, particularly those from the Gulf region, to join the collaborative endeavor.
Insights from a High-Level Dialogue
The session gathered a delegation of Chinese researchers from the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS), Sichuan University, led by Dr. Zeng Xiangyu, senior research fellow at ISAS and director of its Indian Ocean Study Centre. A distinguished panel of experts including Khalid Rahman, Chairman of IPS, Gao Liang and other senior researchers from ISAS, Ambassador (r) Syed Abrar Hussain, Vice Chairman (academics) of IPS, Prof. Dr. Fakhr-ul-Islam, Director of Research and Academic Outreach at IPS, and Dr. Syed Tahir Hijazi, former member of the Planning Commission, participated in the discourse.
A Holistic Perspective on CPEC’s Trajectory
Delivering the keynote speech, Khalid Rahman emphasized the need for a comprehensive viewpoint while evaluating CPEC’s progress within the ever-evolving dynamics of conflict. The initiative, launched as a win-win partnership, encountered multifaceted challenges, spanning internal complexities such as the Afghanistan issue, law and order dilemmas, political instability, and governance hurdles, as well as external obstacles like adversarial lobbying and risks linked to peer-to-peer interactions.
A Decade’s Growth and Emerging Prospects
A decade into CPEC’s journey, promising signs of advancement are emerging. Domestic stability has on the rise, bilateral confidence has reestablished, and the evolving global landscape has carving out new avenues for collaboration. Amidst this juncture, the imperative lies in sustaining the partnership’s positive trajectory, counteracting any unfounded narratives propagated by detractors.
Charting Future Collaborative Vistas
Dr. Xiangyu provided insights into the decade’s progress, acknowledging CPEC’s accomplishments while recognizing the room for improvement. Beyond the established ‘1+4’ framework, he highlighted untapped avenues for collaboration, including industry expansion, agriculture, water resource management, climate adaptation, and workforce development. A nuanced understanding of these opportunities and their effective management is pivotal in shaping coherent policies and fostering an environment conducive to CPEC’s future growth.
Ensuring Resilience: Security and Progress
Addressing security concerns, Dr. Fakhr-ul-Islam recalled CPEC’s initiation in 2013 amidst a challenging security landscape. Today, a relatively stable security situation prevails, bolstered by intelligence networks and a dedicated army division. However, vigilance has warranted against international and regional actors engaged in proxy activities that could threaten CPEC’s trajectory.
Promoting Regional Prosperity: An Inclusive Approach
Ambassador Abrar underscored the significance of connecting Central Asia and beyond through Afghanistan, thus unlocking greater prospects for regional collaboration and prosperity. The quest for peace in Afghanistan is integral to the region’s progress, including CPEC, calling for multidimensional cooperation encompassing Afghanistan and neighboring nations.
Navigating Governance Continuity
Tahir Hijazi addressed the challenge posed by shifts in Pakistan’s government, leading to changing interests and administrative authority. To overcome this, robust governance and administrative policies needed, ensuring structured progress irrespective of evolving administrations.