by: Mr. Ovais Ali Khokhar, Chairman, Board of Experts, Pakistan Research Center for a Community with Shared Future (PRCCSF), Islamabad.
Over the past ten years, the CPEC has gone from being an aspiration to a remarkable reality. In addition to providing enormous possibilities for regional connection and prosperity, it has ushered in a new age of economic collaboration between China and Pakistan. CPEC has dedicated to advancing diversity, and encouraging collaboration among all stakeholders, and to turn it into a driver of regional development as well.
CPEC is a proud reminder and a significant milestone in China and Pakistan’s longstanding friendship. A massive network of roads, motorways, and railroads has been built or expanded as a result of CPEC, which has also prioritized industrial development and reduced travel times, including energy, transportation, and enhancing connectivity between China and Pakistan.
CPEC has not only improved commercial links but also brought social advancement to remote regions. Gwadar Port has undergone significant development to become a vital deep-sea port with enormous possibilities for trade and investment. The accomplishment of CPEC projects speaks volumes about the strong ties between the two nations and their dedication to strengthening their strategic partnership
It describes the entire historical path of the CPEC, which began in 2013 and progressed in accordance with the core principles of extensive consultation, mutual participation, and shared benefits. It has undoubtedly given Pakistan’s economic and social progress fresh momentum and provided a solid framework for regional connection, cooperation, and integration.
The CPEC served as the impetus for a historic vision, building an unbreakable tie between the two countries as they pursued a common goal of shared prosperity, connectedness, and enduring companionship. The incredible $58 billion given from China to invest Pakistan’s infrastructure, energy, and production sectors came at a crucial time.
Completion of Phase I : The CPEC has advanced and progressed rapidly over the previous ten years, attracting 25.4 billion dollars in direct investment, generating 8,000 megawatts of electricity, creating 236,000 jobs, building 510 km of motorways, and extending Pakistan’s main transmission network by 886 kilometers.
Nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were strategically placed along these important transportation links, which have proven to be brilliant and attracted significant investments to Pakistan. Four of the nine designated SEZs under the CPEC are anticipated to start operating soon with the completion of the first phase. The potential for this massive undertaking to be revolutionary is shown by the fact that the next five SEZs are expected to be completely operational by 2030.
Additionally, Pakistan’s longstanding energy shortage has been greatly resolved due to CPEC’s consistent focus on energy projects, which include a wide range of coal, hydro, solar, and wind power plants. The visionary initiatives not only gradually met our immediate energy demands, but they also set the stage for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future. The admirable effort to address Pakistan’s protracted power shortages has resulted in a total of 14 power projects, resulting in an outstanding 8,000 megawatts of installed capacity.
The Gwadar Port, has seen an amazing transformation and is now a fully operational that connects Pakistan to the rest of the world. Gwadar International Airport, which China kindly financed, solidifies the city’s reputation as a flourishing logistics and trade hub. Gwadar is well-positioned to realize its full potential as an important gateway to international trade and commerce due to its strategic location and advanced infrastructure.
Future Prospects: The second phase of the CPEC, which is now under way after the success of the first phase focusing on infrastructure and electricity projects, is primarily focused on large-scale agricultural cooperation between China and Pakistan.
The strategic agreement between Pakistan and Iran is aiming to strengthen bilateral economic ties. Iran would provide electricity to Gwadar, a crucial component of CPEC. With the modernization of transmission and distribution lines, Gwadar will be able to import power from Iran that is more dependable and of higher quality. This will therefore help the port city become a major regional economic centre, bringing new commercial opportunities and fostering regional prosperity.
Numerous important Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) have been signed between China and Pakistan, including one on creating an export exchange mechanism within the CPEC framework, MoU on the industrial workers exchange programs, one on phytosanitary requirements for the export of dry chillies from Pakistan to China, and one on the final feasibility study report for realigning KKH Phase-II, during the visit of Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng to Islamabad for the execution and implementation of CPEC Phase II.
Additionally, these initiatives seek to promote a workforce exchange programme for CPEC projects for the purposes of skill development, technical training, language learning, and the sharing of Chinese experience in the development of special economic zones (SEZs).
CPEC is expected to encourage more investment, development, and prosperity not only for Pakistan but for the whole region. This stage emphasizes the need for high-quality development by imagining a growth corridor with finished special economic zones, industrial corridors, and green corridors, as well as increased openness and cooperation.