Squabbling over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has continued despite Chinese intervention into the matter since last year. While some of the concerns raised by the provinces are legitimate enough, the Chinese are not wrong to point out the fact that CPEC will benefit not only a particular province, but the entire country. A Chinese think-tank yesterday reiterated this as it asked Pakistan to settle differences over the the CPEC as the ‘bumper harvest’ was yet to come.
The benefits of the CPEC will only be apparent once they are allowed to be completed safely and on time without any serious impediments. Militants have tried to disrupt the construction of the economic corridor linking China with Pakistan's coast and have killed 44 workers since 2014. This number is only set to increase if adequate security is not provided to the workers, many of which are Chinese. Provinces like Balochistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been at the forefront with their voices of dissent, regularly complaining that the CPEC was not benefitting all the provinces equally, blaming Punjab of taking away more than its share. But the security concerns are highest in these two provinces and if they want to attract more investment in their provinces, they must ensure that everything must be done to combat militancy and provide necessary security to the workers.
Estimates suggest that if provided the security it needs Chinese investments can stimulate a 15 percent increase in Pakistan’s GDP by 2030. This is a big amount, one that will contribute towards improved education, healthcare and social services, not just improved infrastructure. One can only hope that the provinces will find a way to settle their differences and come together for peace and prosperity of the entire country.