CPEC 2:0

Pakistan’s political elite seems oblivious to the deep strategic manoeuvre that this unrelenting terrorist onslaught on the CPEC in reality is.

The CPEC is much more than just Pakistan’s economic life­line that it is generally pur­ported to be. It needs to be further seen in its manifold geopolit­ical, geostrategic and geo­economic dimensions to fully grasp its impor­tance within the region and its impact beyond it. It is the flagship project of the BRI and therefore must contribute handsomely to­wards its success. Failure or partial success is not an option. The con­cerns of the Chinese are thus well-founded and timely.

Any major regional-global power occupying the Mekran Coast-Gwa­dar Complex, the southern end of the CPEC, will derive enormous geopo­litical, geostrategic, and geoeconom­ic dividends from this enormously advantageous position. The Mekran Coast-Gwadar Complex holds within itself the potential to provide numer­ous land, air, naval, submarine, and missile bases, communication, ra­dar, intelligence gathering stations, and other associated military instal­lations in a very sensitive area of the region. It will have a domineering (controlling during hostilities) over­sight of all SLOCs carrying oil, gas, and other goods, to and from the Persian Gulf/Hormuz Straits. More­over, any air and naval forces foray­ing forth from the Mekran Coast can dominate all East-West SLOCs/glob­al trade transiting the Indian Ocean, too. This brings forth the inevitabili­ty of the CPEC and the Mekran Coast-Gwadar Complex in all future strate­gic considerations of the region. It is bound to acquire the utmost tactical, operational, and strategic impor­tance in any violent conflict in the GMER. Furthermore, it stands to link the South-Central Asian Region and western China to the Indian Ocean, GMER, Europe, and beyond through the shortest possible trade corri­dors. The economic potential is as­tronomical, too.

This brings the unrelenting ter­rorist onslaughts on the CPEC into their correct perspective. It also clarifies who sponsors these ma­rauding terrorist groups and why. It shows clearly where Afghanistan and Iran stand on the subject. It also accentuates China’s apprehensions about the security of the BRI-CPEC and its people and projects within. Finally, it underlines Pakistan’s inex­orable obligation to secure and safe­guard this vital corridor, foremost in its own vital national interest.

However, Pakistan’s political elite seems oblivious to the deep strategic manoeuvre that this unrelenting ter­rorist onslaught on the CPEC in re­ality is. They appear unable to com­prehend its complex implications for the region and beyond, for Pakistan, its economic revival, and for China. Crucially, their approach to dealing with the terrorists is diametrically opposed too. One favours negotia­tions with them while the other pre­fers kinetic operations against them. Where will the twain meet? They remain incommunicado and con­sumed by their obsessive compul­sions to politically annihilate each other. They do not seem to fathom the ominous consequences of their less than mature political behaviour during Pakistan’s current predica­ments. They must realize that Pak­istan and its vital national interests take precedence over everything and everyone else. Period.

Unfortunately, there is no credi­ble, universally respected political leader or other personality in the country who could take charge of the situation, mediate, and collect them all around a table for mean­ingful, result-oriented discussions/negotiations. Furthermore, there is nary a credible institution or orga­nization in the country which would be willing to or could be entrusted with the onerous task of initiating and formalising a rapprochement between these bitterly divided po­litical antagonists. Resultantly, Pak­istan, its people, its economy, se­curity, and well-being continue to suffer endlessly. The persisting sta­tus quo is excruciating, suffocating, asphyxiating and clearly unsustain­able. It must give way to sensible politics that serves the nation and people’s interests before every­thing else. A change is long overdue. It must come naturally rather than be forced. The political leaders will have to think beyond themselves, their idiosyncrasies, and petty po­litical interests to create opportuni­ties for Pakistan to emerge from this economic imbroglio, speedily.

Pakistani politicians need to un­derstand the urgency of Pakistan’s problems now. They are existen­tial in nature. The CPEC is the game changer that it needs most of all. It has precious little else to bank on, at the moment, anyway. It must be se­cured from all forms of threats; ma­jor power manoeuvrings and coer­cion, terrorist attacks, incompetent governance, skewed priorities, po­litical instability, economic misman­agement, poor policy formulation, and hesitant decision-making. Paki­stan needs to stabilize itself and start functioning like a normal state, post haste. A massive paradigm shift in the national effort to cohesively, sin­gle-mindedly pursue vital interests - the CPEC - is thus warranted.

It will eventually devolve upon the politicians to dig themselves and Pakistan out of the hole they are all collectively in. A convergence of all political parties on the need to put Pakistan First, always and every time, is inevitable. They did so for Mr Liu Jian Chao. Now they must do it for Pakistan in a far more whole­some, voluntary, and decisive man­ner. They must now seize the initia­tive to find an amicable solution to this imbroglio. It is incumbent upon the current government in power to deal with the situation and find practical ways and means to end this senseless political impasse. It must create and open viable, credible, and innovative channels of communica­tion with its political opponents. It would require a lot of wheeling and dealing, much give and take, to ar­rive at a possible way out of this co­nundrum. Political compromises all around will perhaps define the solu­tion. This will require a great deal of patience, prudence, tact, large-heartedness, sagacity, courage and visionary foresight on the part of all leaders/parties. With the requisite will and determination all around, it is eminently doable. A well-thought-out plan of action from the Government thus could set the ball rolling. All politicians owe at least this much to the nation. The CPEC must attain its stated objectives; Chinese apprehensions thereof must be totally allayed!

Imran Malik
The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army. He can be reached at im.k846@gmail.com and tweets@K846Im.

The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistan Army. He can be reached at im.k846@gmail.com and tweets @K846Im.