Background: Gwadar Port construction was started by China in early 2002. It was completed by 2007 and handed over to Port Singapore Authority International (PSAI). In 2012, the Port was handed over to China by PPP government. In 2013 – 14, many MOUs / agreements worth 45 bn $ (now 62 bn $) were signed by PML (N) government under the project, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The details of concept and fundamentals for funds utilization and projects distribution amongst and in the provinces are not known as it is not given in black and white; neither the government authority (federal & provincial) shared any details to general public nor much about these funds & projects were discussed in education institutions and media.
There is lack of transparency in the funds as well as in the projects and the end users, that is, private parties are unaware of this gigantic viable economic project. There are certain voices against its planning and implementation from the economists, political analysts, and academicians. Even the provinces share their skepticism which needs to be addressed well in advance.
Presently, the weapons of mass destruction have brought a temporary stalemate in the modern warfare especially in global expanded conflicts. Now the emphasis of international community is on the economic development and an economic era in the context of new great game has been ushering in the world. This economic era will lead the world to further globalization; therefore we shall keep ourselves abreast of the new global development trends.
China has taken a lead for the economic great game and launched One Belt, One Road (OBOR), now known as Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) which is 2 comprised of 6 corridors, covering 60 countries of Asia, Europe & Africa involving 800 bn $. This expansive economic initiative by China comprises of projects concerning connectivity, power projects, and services etc.
Potentials: The flag ship project of the BRI is CPEC and CPEC’s lynchpin is Gwadar Port. Ports act like a magnet to attract international businesses and almost 90% of trade is undertaken through the sea ports. Gwadar being Deep Sea Port, is having capacity of 40 mn TEU transshipment and it can become one of the busiest ports of the world in short span of time. Secondly, its geo strategic location by intra/inter connecting the regional economic markets of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Central Asian Republics (CARs), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well globally connecting to varying Africans and other developing countries. Thirdly, Gwadar will be a base to Western China for her imports & exports. Fourthly, an alternate to Strait of Malacca from where 70 % of China oil flows, which in an event of conflict can be easily blocked by US. Besides, many business ventures, commercial activities, transit trade, tourism and heavy industrial complexes can be undertaken at Gwadar. To summarize, Gwadar is the future economic epicenter of the world and it has inbuilt potentials for economic development, integration of the nation, fight War on Terror (WOT) and to address our security concerns.
Challenges: The mega projects have mega challenges and issues but there is always a way forward, if deliberated and handled by professionals with strategic foresight. It is an economically competitive world and the challenges we experience shall embolden us and work with unfaltering dedication instead of getting bogged down in spirit. We shouldn’t fear the odd set of challenges. We must embrace these challenges, accept them and work toward resolving these challenges with a win win situation. 3 Pakistan government without knowing and deliberating upon the potentials & future prospects of Gwadar has entered in agreements with China which needs reappraisal as we may not repent in the future.
Though developing Gwadar / CPEC with the emerging economic power China is a positive development but we must not sacrifice our own strategic interests, shall pursue them professionally and safeguard our interests with dedicated vigilance. The basic concept of CPEC is to operationalize the Gwadar Port and connect it with Kashgar / China, through shortest possible route. Rest of the projects shall be developed at the later stages or even simultaneously. We have deviated from the primary aim of the project, which may not prove another Kala Bagh Dam issue in the future.
We could have bargained with China with a position of strength, had we known in prior the true potentials of Gwadar with respect to its short and long term economic prospects. We had, in essence, sold Gwadar without any bargain because we did not know its true potentials neither it is handled professionally. Instead of being main beneficiary and on the driving seat, we have become recipient of the benefits. Moreover, other projects have been given preference over Gwadar deliberately or due to the lack of knowledge about the potentials of Gwadar, thus jeopardizing the overall planning and implementation of CPEC
We could have bargained with China with a position of strength, had we known in prior the true potentials of Gwadar with respect to its short and long term economic prospects. We had, in essence, sold Gwadar without any bargain because we did not know its true potentials neither it is handled professionally. Instead of being main beneficiary and on the driving seat, we have become recipient of the benefits. Moreover, other projects have been given preference over Gwadar deliberately or due to the lack of knowledge about the potentials of Gwadar, thus jeopardizing the overall planning and implementation of CPEC.
We have external and internal challenges as far as Gwadar/CPEC is concerned. At the international level, if we do not give access or dramatically hamper strategic interests of other international players then it is likely to encourage reaction from them which may put us in adverse situation.
The answer lies to invite all countries and let them invest being part of the global village, which is the norm & recipe of Globalization. Once the stakes of others are involved they will not challenge it rather will welcome it and will tend to make it viable. We must share the economic gains rather 4 gulping all, which we will not be able to digest, neither, will be allowed by others. The thumb rule is that we shall aim at higher percentage of gains & profits and let others also to earn and get benefitted. In this age of globalization, the participation of international stakeholders is likely to have a domino effect, whereby, other countries in the globe will be stimulated to take advantage of this win win situation of this new economic initiative which China is ushering.
Internally, we have numerous issues from attitude to thinking, to capacity building, to sincerity, to security and so on. The projects we are getting in CPEC are not new to us but they are bigger in capacity & magnitude wise. We have to work on it by preparing our young generation which has talent but no coaching, we have cheap & hard working labour class but unaware and untrained of new technologies and we being a resilient nation but has no direction and guidance to move forward. Secondly, if we have nuclear know how and can develop nuclear arsenals, run Karachi & Qasim Ports, have reasonable percentage in development of Dubai and contribute world over in different jobs and fields, why cannot we develop our own economics projects which doesn’t needs too much professionalism and high technology rather simple sincerity and positive attitude. There is a need to formulate a national policy on war footing to train our youth and labour within country as well as abroad.
For mega business ventures in the whole country, we shall work for creating secure environments instead of providing security to each individual and vehicle. The business flourishes in secure environments where the wealthy entrepreneurs are free to move, analyze, invest & enjoy rather having gunmen in their vehicles. It’s a natural phenomenon that wealthy people are coward and doesn’t invest in the uncertain environment where their life and investments are not safe and secure.
Way Forward: It is a universal fact that there is always a way forward for all challenges provided they are professionally handled. The project has to be 5 in black & white and so transparent that common businessmen can easily grasp its essentials. We shall have the professionals to run this mega project of Gwadar/CPEC. This project is spread over 20-40 years and will involve 3 digits of amount in bn $ in days to come. The time period and amount involved can only be best utilized and planned while keeping it’s short & long terms prospects with vision provided by the professionals.
The whole nation has to be taken on board and energized to play their part for their own economic gains as well the country development. This is an economic project and the whole nation has to be involved in it. The end user is the private entrepreneur; they must be taken on board, informed, educated and encouraged to put in their due share, investment and hard work. We shall know that we are having the project with an economic giant having much more capabilities and capacities in all respect of businesses. It’s imperative on both to move forward together, China to know our shortfalls and help us to overcome that and take us along, we as a nation to build on our strengths and catch up with Chinese without decelerating them. Our success lies in catching up with the Chinese and learning from them by getting ourselves involved with them at micro & macro levels. Moreover, both countries have to work together to make the project successful and attractive for the world to invest.
Gwadar shall be developed on the concept of “International City” instead of “China City”. It is imperative that Pakistan government should embark on inviting all countries to have trade & business through Gwadar from the Globalization point of view. We shall extend all facilities to other countries which we are extending to China. Till date no country is allowed to visit Gwadar, which is alarming. Government shall spell out its policy for national & international investors in Gwadar and give incentives at the initial stage to attract investment world over.
Recommendations: Following is recommended:
6 a) There is a dire need to have a Board / Authority / Council of professionals to plan & implement Gwadar / CPEC in the ambit of Globalization.
b) We shall not deviate from the primary aim of the CPEC rather operationalize Gwadar Port and connect it with China on priority.
c) We shall work on the way forward by educating & training our youth / nation for the new job opportunities so that we are the main beneficiary as well as address unemployment.
d) As a nation we shall enter the economic era with economic mindset in collaboration with China to attract investment globally.
e) We shall lay emphasis on short and long terms benefits of Gwadar / CPEC with the aim to get economically developed, integrate the nation and address our security concerns.
Conclusion: Notwithstanding the mega projects have mega challenges but there is always a way forward. We shall plan and bargain Gwadar / CPEC professionally by knowing its potentials instead of highlighting shortfalls & challenges and get unnecessarily bogged down. We shall enter in the age of globalization as a nation via Gwadar / CPEC by developing a visionary and sustainably seeking economic mindset in order to strengthen, develop and integrate our nation. We have to ultimately play an important role in the region and the larger Islamic World in context of global international order embodying multifaceted challenges. Our Slogan is: