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CPEC: The Remedy to Provincial Quarreling

cpec meeting

Initial Discord

To say that the initial unveiling of the CPEC project was met with ambivalence would be an understatement. With the exception of Punjab, provincial leadership from all three remaining provinces (Sindh, KP and Balochistan) voiced concerns over the CPEC route, all of them wanting an equitable share in the fruits of CPEC. Fuelled by a lack of information, the route that the CPEC would traverse became a cause for much controversy in the early days after the project’s announcement. Initially introduced was the route now known as the Central Route. Protests were held and after serious concerns were raised by the provincial leadership of Sindh, KP and Balochistan an Eastern and Western Route were introduced. Allegations still persist that the government is prioritizing the Eastern Route which passes through central Punjab, mostly the developed areas. However, miraculously from the initial single Central Route, Beijing has now agreed to fund all three routes bringing an end to provincial quarreling over a lack of participation in CPEC. So despite pre-existing political differences all provincial governments are now on board to ensure the success of CPEC.

Chinese delegation meeting with Cabinet Members of Federal Govt. of Pakistan.

Inclusive Development

Provincial disenfranchisement of the more underdeveloped provinces such as Balochistan is bound to come to an end with the CPEC project. The development of Gwadar will lead it to become a regional socio-economic hub with 400 million tons of cargo going through it. With Gwadar’s untapped potential coming to fruition Balochistan will enjoy the fruits of this success with massive influx of economic activity. The Port and auxiliary businesses that will be set up will bring large number of employment opportunities for the region. The tourism and hotel industry will also get a boost. Moreover the Western Route also brings with it improved connectivity especially with the Gwadar-Rotadero motorway which spans 1085 km. With good quality roads and railways being laid from Gwadar to Hasanabdal and onwards, increased prosperity for cities such as Zhob, Kalat and Khuzdar along the route will be a certainty. Development will increase manifold across these node cities with the improved connectivity highlighting niche industries in the area such as the fruit market of Balochistan which will be opened up to increased export opportunities once the CPEC project comes into its own. The Western Route will open up economic opportunities for a vast swathe of abjectly backward regions of the country. Moreover the lack of productivity and low population of this area will make land cheaper to acquire as opposed to the Eastern Route.

Moving on the Central Route passes through all provinces of Pakistan and is likely to command support across the political spectrum. The early harvest projects under CPEC will mitigate the prevailingpower security problem in the country which has forced industries such as textile in Faisalabad to shut down. Faisalabad will also see the construction of an economic zone under the CPEC project which will be a boon for not just the textile industry but augment a variety of commerce in the region. The construction of 9 coal powered projects and an array of wind, hydel and solar projects will also result in an upsurge in demand for skilled labour such as civil and electrical engineers. This upsurge will be particularly notable in the region of Thatta in Sindh, Karot (hydel) in KP and Bahawalpur(solar) in Southern Punjab. This will also lead to an improvement in the quality of education which will supply these projects with labour.

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