Pakistan‘s new government has agreed with China to formally invite third-country investors to be part of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. After a lengthy four-hour meeting between the Planning, Development and Reforms Commission of Pakistan and the National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC) of China on Sunday, both parties decided to add the social sector and regional development schemes to the existing portfolio of CPEC projects.
The two strategic partners have vowed to work together to achieve big targets and resolve the basic issues regarding CPEC—which have not been dealt with. Both sides agreed to make efforts to increase industrial cooperation and encourage the Chinese investors to relocate industries to increase Pakistan’s exports and improve employment opportunities.
Many pressure groups and critics had presented the arguments towards the re-negotiation over the unfavorable terms decided under the existing CPEC arrangement between the two-allies. The all-important meeting was led by the Minister for Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar. From the Chines side, the NDRC’s vice-chairman, Ning Jizhe, led the Chinese delegation.
Other important participants involved in the negotiations were officials from Chines Embassy, CPEC’s project director Hassan Daud and Planning Secretary Zafar Hassan. In-line with the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision, PTI government has reportedly stressed upon the human development. It involves making certain fruitful altercations in the exiting CPEC Long-Term arrangements to include the social sector schemes involving drinking water, health, education, and technical training etc.
Commenting on the renegotiations pertaining seven central pillars of the CPEC, Planning Commission stated, “Realigning the goals of CPEC, Pakistan has introduced new targets of socioeconomic and regional development under this unprecedented mega project.” Amid the extraordinary level of negative reporting over the hidden agenda and actual terms of the CPEC between Pakistan and China, the officials from Beijing stressed on the involvement of mutually friendly countries in the upcoming special economic zones (SEZs), however, none of the countries was officially named as yet.
Apparently, the US and India have allied and fostered a mutual strategy to counter the Pak-China Corporation over CPEC and spread the rumors to damage the project. To counter the narrative of secretive dealing replicating East Indian Company mode from the hostile forces, Pak-China has shown the resolve to reprioritize Gwadar as a center of industries for export markets—which would involve Turkey, Russia and Saudi Arabia and other friendly countries from Central Asia and Europe.
These countries would either undergo joint venture with Pakistan and China or could invest alone to take advantage of the numerous opportunities from the deep port city. The two sides decided to accelerate the progress of the development projects in Gwadar including New Gwadar International Airport, Technical Institute and a hospital this year.
PTI led government has committed to accelerate the various SEZ projects in coming months and promised to put all the efforts to ensure progression. The calls were loud and clear within Pakistan to come clear on the agreements with the Chinese authorities. The previous regime termed it a real game changer but how the benefit would flow to ordinary people remained questionable.
It’s heartening to see that PTI government has renegotiated to add the social sector and regional development schemes to the existing CPEC projects. Nevertheless, it requires rigorous scrutiny to determine/drive its true benefits to the economy beyond transit and road structure networks.