The travel of all the chief ministers to China with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which is a great sight to watch, materialized only after his opposing provincial chief executives fully realized that the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a real game-changer for Pakistan and will equally benefit their areas as well.
The inclusion of the Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) chief ministers in the premier’s entourage tremendously reflects the rare national harmony, cohesion and unity on the CPEC and is spectacular news from Pakistan to China, which had been worried over the spurious political bickering and point scoring on these grand projects.
China had to work hard to remove the baseless misgivings and suspicions created about the CPEC for political reasons. More than once, it was compelled to issue clarifications so that everybody’s doubts are dispensed with and it is made clear to all and sundry that the CPEC was for the benefit of whole of Pakistan and not for any specific region. It had disapproved the delay of the Chinese president’s scheduled visit to Pakistan due to the chaos and mayhem generated by the 2014 sit-ins.
The participation of such a high level Pakistani delegation in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing is a great honour for Pakistan.
The Belt and Road Forum (BRF) is part of the “Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” (OBOR) initiative launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013. The Forum is aimed at promoting common development through win-win cooperation.
The CPEC is the flagship project of OBOR. The BRF is being attended by 27 other heads of state and government. It exposes the leadership role that China is playing.
It is known that some influential foreign countries and certain domestic elements are hell-bent upon sabotaging the CPEC, but their efforts have been successfully countered by Pakistan as it has continued its strong determination and resolve to carry out the projects. US National Intelligence Director Daniel Coats can only explain the logic what he has just stated. His remarks amply show the antipathy Washington has against the CPEC.
He has claimed that the emergence of the CPEC in Pakistan would allow terrorist groups more targets for attacks. The emerging CPEC will probably offer militants and terrorists additional targets, he told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing. It is a very strange argument and is like saying that major development projects should not be undertaken for the only reason they will provide targets to terrorists.
At this time when conspiracies are being consistently hatched against the CPEC, the unanimity in the national leadership belonging to different political parties, displayed by them now, was most sought after. These leaders thus proved that they have the guts to rise above their politics for the national cause and progress.
After their previous trips, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak changed their mind about the flagship undertaking, the CPEC, of the prime minister and started describing it as a massive development plan that would transform the destiny and fate of Pakistan.
The KP chief minister belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was forced by his party to waste almost four years in its protests. He understood though very belatedly that the politics of agitation was unproductive and useless and what would really pay him in the next general elections was the CPEC. Then, he started exhibiting interest in this gigantic project and received the expected positive response from China. After that, there is no difference between what he has been saying about the CPEC and what the prime minister has been stating for the past three years. Both are thus on the same page at least on this matter.
The Sindh chief minister hailing from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has also been expressing reservations about the CPEC but in a low key and was never as hard-hitting and destructive as Khattak had been. However, whatever concerns and doubts he had stood removed after he paid a couple of visits to China and got promises of Chinese funding to several projects recommended by him.
Obviously, there was no problem about the CPEC from the previous Balochistan chief minister, Dr Abdul Malik, and the present incumbent, Sanaullah Zehri. Among the provinces Balochistan will benefit from the CPEC much more than any other area because of the Gawadar port. A sprawling network of roads has been completed in this province, which will play a key role in the CPEC.