ISLAMABAD- The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has allocated funds for the establishment of the Pak-China Research Centre of Economic Development (PCRCED) at the University of Swat, according to a report published by Gwadar Pro on Wednesday.

With an estimated cost of Rs1,230.540 million, the project will be completed in five years. In its budget for the fiscal year 2022-2023, KP has allocated Rs56.420 million, while the balance will be released in the coming years.

The proposed Pak-China Research Centre will facilitate the study and research on diverse arts, cultures, history, and politics of China and the Swat valley.

Through exchange programmes, the centre can further enhance people-to-people contact between Swat valley and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China. They already have centuries-old cultural and business ties, as geographically Swat valley and Xinjiang are not far from each other, only Gilgit-Baltistan lies between them.

“PCRCED will serve as a think tank and research centre for research studies on matters of mutual interest between Pakistan and China,” the University of Swat Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Hassan Sher told Gwadar Pro, adding that the centre is expected to “contribute immensely to the students, people of the areas and the country.”

According to the VC, the University of Swat is located on the main route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), thus increasing the value of the proposed institute.

“The centre will also develop a mechanism to prepare graduates to fully exploit opportunities arising out of CPEC and related projects,” he said.

In the context of the ‘Pakistan Vision 2025’ which emphasises indigenous resources for economic development, Dr Hassan Sher said that the centre would use local resources for the development of the local community and Pakistan as a whole.

Even as an idea, PCRCED is creating enthusiasm among the people of Swat. Once operational, it will not only help the development of Swat and neighbouring areas, but also will give youth the great opportunity of working, earning, and remaining in their ancestral areas rather than undertaking internal or external migration which comes at great personal and national cost.

There are countless ways via which the centre can contribute: training and developing local human resources required down the road in the implementation of CPEC long-term plan; and developing the capacity of other Pakistani universities to provide useful policy inputs to the government relating to the CPEC long-term plan.

The centre can play an important role in understanding the history, culture, and governance systems that have made possible the “Chinese miracle” - how in some seven decades, China lifted itself out of poverty to become a world power.

PCRCED wants to become a model mini-flagship project in the larger CPEC and BRI context and plans to be in touch with the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad in the near future, to revive and expand its centuries-old ties with China.