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South Asian Regional Landscape and Pakistan’s Future

South Asian Regional Landscape and Pakistan’s Future by Naina Shoaib*

China Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) is a mega project which consists of a collection of infrastructure projects. The project is part of China’s one belt one route policy which connects Kashgar city of Xinjiang region of China to Gawadar port in Pakistan. CPEC connects the two cities through the construction of a vast network of highways, railway, airports and power generation plants and other means of modern communications all way from the border of Pakistan and China, Khunjerab to the Pakistani port of Gawadar. It is a win-win situation for both China and Pakistan and a great leap forward in Sino Pak relations and bridging the states. The project was formally launched when the Chinese President XiJinping visited Islamabad Pakistan in April 2015. The $46 billion project will ensure huge investments in Pakistan including the underdeveloped regions in Pakistan.

CPEC will strategically connect Pakistan and China by becoming a source of shipping millions of tons of goods from China to the Middle East, Africa and Europe via Gawadar port and will act as a bridge between East Asia and south Asia as well as the source connecting the Gulf and the Middle East. This would provide a major boost to Pakistan’s economy by substantially increasing its trade volumes with China, Central Asia, Russia, Middle East, and Europe.  Increased revenue through the transiting goods of other countries, increase in employment, increase in the tourism industry of Pakistan are all examples of the benefits CPEC would bring into Pakistan.

It is no doubt that CPEC will provide economic and strategic stability to Pakistan and the region, however, the corridor is not without challenges and impediments. Other than providing security peace and stability for the completion of project Pakistan has to deal with other states such as India.  According to India its disputed borders with Pakistan and China continue to generate insecurity for the country. Pakistan and India’s relationship is far more complicated because of the border they share and sovereignty over an entire state (Jammu and Kashmir) has been historically disputed.

India has not been welcoming about the Pak China project because it passes through Pakistan’s Kashmir, and they claim it is being passed through disputed territory. Indian response to the Chinese development in Gawadar has been the bilateral agreement between Iran and India to develop the Chabahar port and strengthening its ties with America.

Analyzing the regional landscape and Pakistan’s future it can clearly be stated that Pakistan is not putting all its eggs in one basket. Pakistan is not solely relying on Chinese for development

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*BS International Relations, University of London

It has opened other doors for development and security to achieve durable peace and stability. Furthermore, Pakistan is adopting its look east policy where it’s strengthening ties with other countries. Although Pakistan and USA have a strained relationship in the light of Donald Trump’s recent Afghan policy but Pakistan and USA are still working together in areas ranging from education to energy to invest. Another classic example of Pakistan’s diversified vision for its future development is the TAPI (Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India) pipeline is a natural gas pipeline which will provide natural gas from Turkmenistan to Afghanistan followed by Pakistan and then India. This project is to counter the energy crisis being faced in Pakistan.

The most disturbing for Pakistan is, on one hand, the Indian involvement in Afghanistan and on another hand, the Indian backed recent US Afghan policy could have turned out to be a challenging issue for Pakistan. But Pakistan’s threatening factor generally to the regional stability and particularly to the peace and stability in Civil and Military leadership categorically made it clear not only to USA but to the rest of the world when Pakistani chief of army staff visited Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Prime Ministers speech in the UN General Assembly and the foreign ministers dialogue that Pakistan is the only sufferer and winner in this war against terrorism. And it is time to appreciate Pakistan’s efforts instead of asking Pakistan to do more.

Thus Pakistan’s efforts to bring durable peace and stability in Afghanistan by arranging recent Quadrilateral dialogues in Muscat (Oman) paved the way for further negotiations between the various stakeholders.

Indian claims of CPEC passing through disputed territory have also been strangely condemned by Pakistan and China. Furthermore, the Indian involvement in the province of Balochistan after the confession by Kulbhushan Yadev serving Indian navy officer has been tackled by the Pakistani government through the “Aghaz-e-Haqooq Balochistan” to protect its province. Furthermore, the recent passing out parade’s top two position won by the cadets from Cadet College Sui of Balochistan is a clear reflection of Pakistan’s efforts in the future of Balochistan.

As well as the economic development is concerned projects such as TAPI, the Iran Pakistan Gas pipeline, or Pakistan’s  SCO membership, increasing its ties with Russia are all examples of Pakistan’s successful future going towards increasing development. Hence the future is of Pakistan.

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