Unfortunately, Pakistan’s USA-oriented foreign policy and political turmoil prevented the country from enjoying economic prosperity. Throughout the country’s history, Pakistan never achieved the same level of economic development as India. While some governments did take steps in the right direction, they were overturned by subsequent governments.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s nationalization policy was one such blunder. It would not be wrong to say that the country is yet to recover from the debacle. Later, the country’s involvement with the Afghan Mujahideen and the War on Terror was the last straw. The country cannot do without loans from the International Monetary Fund.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – A Much-Needed Respite
Unlike the USA, China believed that the best way to benefit from Pakistan’s strategic position is not through aid but through development. Thus, it launched CPEC to improve Pakistan’s economy and help it act as a regional connector. As of 2022, the total worth of the corridor is valued at more than $60 billion. CPEC is a game-changer for the region, including the Central Asian Republics, Iran, and Afghanistan. Many people mistakenly believe that CPEC is confined to road and infrastructure projects alone.
However, it is not the case. CPEC involves projects that cover multiple dimensions. For example, a desalination plant is under construction in Gwadar, which will provide clean drinking water to Gwadar and beyond. There are also talks about setting up a Punjab-Tianjin University of Technology. As you may recall that Pakistan was once an energy-deficient country. Under CPEC, many energy projects were launched. One of them is the 1000MW Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park (Bahawalpur). The development of Gwadar port is also a CPEC project.
Aura Properties recommends visiting this website for detailed information about all CPEC projects and their progress. As you can see, CPEC covers each dimension of a country’s development and regional connectivity. Now, let us get back to our main discussion topic.
CPEC & Its Benefits to Pakistan
CPEC brings numerous benefits to Pakistan, including:
1. Development of Far-flung Areas
Figure 1. CPEC Routes
Figure 1 shows the road networks under CPEC throughout Pakistan to link the country with China. The areas adjoining the highway networks will see unprecedented growth due to the movement of goods. Without CPEC, the Pakistani Government would not have the finances to develop these areas. We might see the development of housing societies and other commercial projects along the route.
2. Increase in Land Value
The previous point mentions land development as a benefit. Once the development work starts, the areas will witness increased land value. The locals will undoubtedly benefit from a rise in property rates. At the same time, the Government will get more revenue in property taxes.
3. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
When foreign investors see that CPEC is successful, it will undoubtedly improve their confidence. It might motivate them to invest in Pakistan. For example, the Eighteen Housing Society in Islamabad is a project of Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries. Egypt’s wealthiest family owns it. Other investors will want to invest in the country as it offers a promising return on investment.
4. Increase in Exports
As the regional connectivity improves, Pakistani industries will have access to greater markets. It presents a perfect opportunity for Pakistan to increase its exports. An increase in exports will help address the import-export balance and improve the country’s foreign reserves.
5. Employment Opportunities
Pakistan has a youthful population that requires jobs. CPEC presents numerous employment opportunities to Pakistanis and even foreigners.
6. Bring Stability
Unfortunately, extremism, high crime rates, and other challenges marr Pakistan. When people are provided with jobs, they will start shunning anti-social practices. After all, a person supporting their family with a job has no reason to take up arms against the state or engage in criminal behaviour.
7. Improve Tourism
Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly highlighted Pakistan’s tourism potential. Experts estimate that the tourism sector is a multi-billion-dollar industry. CPEC can improve Pakistan’s tourism infrastructure and bring foreign tourists.
8. Improve Pakistan’s Image
Pakistan is seen as a terrorist-sponsor and extremist society. This image results from foreign propaganda and our failure to counter it. As CPEC improves the country’s economy and other sectors, Pakistan’s image will improve in the international arena.
9. Improve Relations with Others
Once Pakistan’s economy improves, it can negotiate with other countries on an equal footing. Currently, Pakistan has to accept its undue demands as they provide Pakistan with trade and aid.
10. Boost the Agricultural Sector
Although it is claimed that Pakistan is an agrarian economy, it is not the case. This sector has continuously seen its contribution to the GDP decline. It increases food security challenges. CPEC involves multiple projects related to this sector. Once they are completed successfully, the agriculture sector will witness a boom. It can help bring down the prices of everyday commodities.
Without a doubt, CPEC is a game-changer for Pakistan and the region. However, its success depends on the Pakistani Government. If the Government does not accord it the importance that it deserves, CPEC may be a failure. It will strain relations with China and reverse Pakistan’s economic growth. Therefore, the Government must ensure that Chinese workers are provided with security and complete the projects timely.