BY LIU LULU
Pakistan’s general election is less than a week away, and all relevant parties are straining every nerve to promote their political ideas, among which Islamabad’s relationship with Beijing is top on the agenda. The prospects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of China’s Belt and Road initiative, under the next government, has triggered widespread speculation amid West’s repeated hype of China’s “debt traps.”
Beyond doubt, Beijing expects a higher degree of engagement by the new Pakistani government in the CPEC, but Islamabad’s domestic affairs and the country’s choice of political path is entirely determined by the Pakistani people, and Beijing has no intention to interfere. While China is fully prepared for potential difficulties in pushing forward the Belt and Road initiative, the country is more willing to cooperate with regional countries for mutually beneficial results.
Teaching one to fish is better than giving him fish. Apart from direct investment, China focuses more on the need to bring modern management experience and technical skills to Pakistan. According to a report jointly issued by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Pakistan and the Pakistan-China Institute, the CPEC has created 60,000 jobs for local people since 2015, and would provide more than 800,000 new jobs in different sectors by 2030. The report also approved China’s efforts in bringing technical knowhow and skills to Pakistan “that can be customized to meet local needs.”
Moreover, Beijing and Islamabad have seen intense high-level communication these years. This will help deepen mutual trust between the two countries, a prerequisite to win-win cooperation. Under the Belt and Road initiative, an increasing number of investors from China and other countries are coming to Pakistan for business opportunities, laying the basis for the country’s sustainable development.
Indeed, Pakistan is still perplexed by a fragile economy and turbulent politics. An overnight success is unrealistic in the country’s development, and it will take time for Pakistan to progress and gradually realize economic prosperity and political stability. China, with its Belt and Road initiative, is providing Pakistan with opportunities to develop.
What about Western countries? Apart from pointing an accusing finger at China, they act nonchalantly toward Pakistan’s developmental needs. Their aid to Pakistan and other less developed countries often has conditions attached, which have later become major hindrances to these countries’ development. Many problems of Pakistan are rooted in its colonial history. For instance, British colonization is the direct cause for Pakistan’s territorial disputes, which have dragged the country into relentless political tensions. A new developmental path is the only solution to these problems.
China’s contributions to Pakistan are acknowledged by local people, and we believe Pakistani politicians have the wisdom to properly handle CPEC projects and the country’s ties with China for the well-being of the region.
Belt and Road expected to improve governance in Pakistan
BY LIU LULU