The geographical location of a country determines its role in the world politics. It denotes that critically how beneficial or non-beneficial one country is to the others in terms of the social, economic and political aspects. Strategically, Pakistan is located at a very significant geo-strategic place on the globe. It is situated at the juncture of energy proficient to the energy deficient countries. The geo-strategic importance of Pakistan is evident from the fact that it is bordered by the emerging economic giants of the world i.e. India and China, and by the countries rich in abundant natural resources i.e. Afghanistan and Iran. Historically it is evident that the very concept of a corridor has been a cause of development in parts of the world. Economic corridors have emerged in the recent years as an important tool of regional cooperation, integration and development in a globalized world under reciprocity. China as being the neighbour of South Asia has a special significance in enhancing the agenda of constructive engagements, which is now evident from the active involvement of Chinese leadership in South Asian region. The strategic bonds between Pakistan and China have been on an upward trajectory with moved thrust on economic interaction after the initiation of CPEC.
CPEC is a futuristic sociopolitical and economic object oriented dimension of Pakistan in the 21st Century. This multi-dimensional project has opened new vistas of Pakistan’s rebalancing options from geo-politics to geo-economics.
CPEC, to safeguard common interests and mutual benefits, epitomizes a model of cooperation, coordination and strategic communication between China and Pakistan to strengthen connectivity in areas of trade and economy with states in the region to fulfill growing energy requirements and enhance exports. Pakistan’s leadership pronounces the CPEC as a game changer for Pakistan and the region at large. Along with CPEC, Pakistan will turn into a commercial hub in South and Central Asia, an axis of the regional trade.
CPEC would inter-link South Asia, Central Asia, North Africa and Gulf States in terms of economic and energy collaboration. China has been interested in the development of a direct crude oil pipeline from Gwadar in Pakistan to Xinjiang in China through CPEC. With the operationalization of Gwadar Port, all the trade to and from landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs) can be taken on the shortest available route via Gwadar due to which the trade benefits to Pakistan may be expected to multiply. Pakistan could be able to become major world channel for petro-chemical trade which will stimulate its economic progression. Moreover, the Baluchistan Province in Pakistan will become substantial for regional amalgamation. Gwadar Port has a rare difference of being only one of the few points where ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) would intersect. Therefore, it is imperative that Pakistan should deal optimistically with all the challenges in construction of CPEC and may convert this golden opportunity into an economic certainty. Regardless of the importance of CPEC for Pakistan, there are other dimensions too. It has also exceptional implications for China and its future role of emerging as a great power at the global level. China considers regional connectivity as a central element and first step to rise at global level. President Xi of China during his address to Foreign Affairs Committee at Communist Party meeting in 2014 said that we will give priority to our neighbours in our diplomacy on all fronts. While, other part of policy is to build relations with developing countries having abundance of natural resources, including energy rich, countries. It will help China to be branded as the development partner and non-interfering ally in the comity of nations. Counter balancing the Pivot to Asia Policy designed by the US to contain and encircle China with an alliance including India, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Singapore and the Philippines. This Corridor will serve as a substitute route for Chinese trade, thereby allowing China to outwit the threat of a blockade of Chinese oil supplies through the Strait of Malacca by the USA and allied navies in the wake of a future war in Asia. CPEC will strengthen the strategic alliance between Pakistan and China as it would seem probable to exacerbate the dispute between Pakistan and India. China promotes the hope that CPEC and its economic impact will also contribute to the transformation of Pakistani society and the consolidation of moderate forces. China believes that peaceful progress in Pakistan would have in turn a positive effect on the region about the situation in Afghanistan. The CPEC will provide an opportunity for reinvigoration of Pakistan’s economic structure, predominantly through the development of its energy sector and by encouraging a greater connectivity. CPEC is disparagingly important for both countries. Pakistan needs it to overcome its socio-economic development and energy concerns, while on the other hand China desires it to enlarge its periphery of influence, consolidate its global existence and safeguarding its future supply routes of energy and trade goods. It is important to point out that the concept was established by China, as being part of its “Go Global 2001” policy. Pakistan can be one of the beneficiaries of Chinese dream of economic integration at the regional level. Therefore, it is advisable for Pakistan to remain concentrated on the development of the country rather than wasting time on inconsequential issues. Provincialism should not be given the chance to take over the development agenda by any stakeholder, including the federal government.
China has taken over control of Gwadar Port for a 40 years’ lease, and started to develop the deep seaport into one of the most up-to-date and progressive seaports of the world. Gwadar Port will have a huge storage of cargo and shipment handling facilities and many shipyards. The Gwadar port will function as a tail of the New Silk Road, which would connect China’s Kashgar region to the different communicational networks of the region. It holds an essential position in the CPEC venture that it has been situated close to the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 40% of the world’s oil supply is flowed. Gwadar as a key shipping point could play a key role in safeguarding Chinese interests of energy security by providing a much shorter route than the current 12,900 Km route from the Persian Gulf through the Strait of Malacca to Chinese Eastern Seaboard. The port is envisioned to the transformation of Pakistan into a center of commercial activities among the energy rich Gulf and Central Asian States, Afghanistan and China, by offering the Pakistan Navy with strategic depth beside its coast as a maritime base.
Strategic significance of CPEC