Pakistan is a land of mystery. Ever since its independence on 14th August 1947 until now, it still is widely misunderstood. But when you look at it up close and explore it without any pre-conceived notions, you will find a country that has a lot to offer. You will always hear the standard sales pitch about Pakistan — that it is home to a majority young population, that Pakistan has four full seasons, is home to the highest peaks, glorious rivers, deserts, forests and pristine coast lines — all this is true and there is a lot more then all of that.
This land has a history that dates back to the Indus Civilisation. A land that stood at crossroads for many kingdoms and empires. Anyone familiar with the geography of the region understands the importance of Pakistan’s geo-location. People will talk about the troubles that come with all that. However, one of the most important things happening in Pakistan that is still not known to many people around the world is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The modern Silk Route but with far reaching impact on global economy and progress. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a segment of the Belt and Road Initiative. A global vision of China to invest in countries around the world to make a unified market and a global alliance of business, culture, progress and prosperity. The CPEC, to many, might look like small component of the OBOR (one belt, one road) vision but it is of extreme importance. This is the shortest way for China to access the warm waters of the Arabian Sea and the shortest fastest way to reach Middle East and Africa.
The CPEC is perhaps the most vital strategic move by Pakistan, a country that has been on the frontlines of the global war on terror for over a decade and has seen lives and time being sacrificed. The CPEC is perhaps the best way forward for Pakistan.
So, what is the CPEC? It is a number of infrastructure projects mainly roads and highways that connect Pakistan’s newest port city Gwadar in the south with the Pakistan China border in the north. Infrastructure projects well over $60 billion and climbing. The port in Gwadar is already operational. The CPEC will unleash an economic boom in Pakistan like no other. A railroad project on the same route is also on its way. Oil pipelines, refineries and other oil and gas infrastructure is also being introduced. Along the entire CPEC route land prices continue to appreciate. Plentiful opportunities in every sector are visible. Hotels, gas stations, malls, office space, warehousing, manufacturing, construction material, agriculture, IT, tourism, healthcare and so much more all will benefit from CPEC. This is the turning point for Pakistan.
Both Pakistan and China welcome the world to participate in this economic opportunity. Many strategic business partnerships have already taken shape and many more are being forged. European companies collaborating with Pakistani and Chinese companies. Chinese enterprises investing in Pakistani companies. Mergers and acquisitions on the rise. All these indicate of an unstoppable economic future.
The CPEC is an economic quantum leap for a very significant population of the world. Yes, there are challenges to CPEC, as it threatens the control of many global powers and special interest groups. Sponsored terrorism to disrupt CPEC’s progress has been a dirty ploy that has failed miserably to stop CPEC from happening. Pakistan’s military establishment, intelligence and law enforcement agencies have contained these activities tremendously. It is only a matter of time before all such espionage activities are eradicated completely.
CPEC projects have gained more momentum during Covid-19 pandemic. A new CPEC authority was established and Lt Gen. (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa has been appointed its chairman. Lt Gen Bajwa is an extraordinary officer. He is also considered the man responsible for bringing the new era of information war to the mix of Pakistan Army’s formidable might. He was also posted as commander Southern command and hence is operationally most familiar with CPEC’s infrastructure projects and their strategic value. Ever since he assumed charge as chairman, CPEC authority the work on various projects has started moving at lightning pace. With both civilian and military leadership on the same age to ensuring the completion of CPEC projects the days ahead promise great things.
Now is the opportunity for governments, nations, companies, businesses to join the highway to the future. For Pakistan, this is the moment to shine and we welcome everyone to join in. World Economic Forum has already tipped China to be the number one economy in the world by 2024. The new economic world order is upon us. Embrace it, partner with it and work with it to give the gift of prosperity to the world.
You must be wondering what my credentials are to be writing this piece on CPEC. To many I am merely an entertainer, but very few know of my business and entrepreneurial life. But this piece is from the perspective of a Pakistani who has called UAE home for the last 18 years, and is exposed to a very vibrant and competitive business environment.
As a Pakistani, I am proud of what CPEC is going to achieve for the people of my country. On the 73rd Independence Day, I welcome the world to my Pakistan. The gateway to the future.