BRI’s CPEC Bright Future

Agriculture and tourism industries are considered the backbone of future growth.

China is moving on BRI & its re­lated projects around the globe fast but in organized manner to achieve the Shared Prosperity goal. Re­cently held 10th Anniversary of BRI’s CPEC shows that the im­portance not only attach ed with this reject from China but also from Pakistan as a game changers for socio economic development activities in the country much needed. Recent past China’s initiative to bring closer Saudi Arabia & Iran after a decades is also the part of China’s desires to suc­cess BRI & CPEC.

Pakistan is fortunate in this regard that it already has China’s flagship proj­ect the China Pakistan Economic Cor­ridor (CPEC), which was launched in 2013 in which a lot of work has been completed, including coal, windmills and hydropower, about more then 15 projects have been completed.

While work is ongoing on six projects, including the Suki Kinari hydro proj­ect of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, its seventy percent work has been also completed. With the completion of all these proj­ects, thousands of megawatts of elec­tricity will be added to the national grid. There is a need to fix the local sys­tem to take full advantage of the elec­tricity generated until the feeders are not updated and the damaged wires and transformers are not replaced the problems will continue to exist which is the biggest obstacle in taking benefits from CPEC. Therefore it is necessary to make better use of the help of the Chi­nese brothers to remove the current hurdles in the way of electricity trans­mission at the local level.

On the other hand, from an economic point of view, under CPEC, project like Rashakai Special Economic Zone in Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa is in the stages of com­pletion, in which 247 acre of area have been prepared and underway for invest­ment. Several enterprises have been reg­istered while a few have started con­struction of their industrial units.

Similarly, if the entire CPEC project is reviewed then the investors and the government of Pakistan will have to do their part to benefit from the above project. The fact that the phase one has been completed, raises many questions that we are not fully prepare for that dynamic scheme.

Apart from this, the tourism sector is also expected to expand. These initia­tives are very promising for expand­ing employment opportunities for residents. Agriculture and tourism in­dustries are considered the backbone of future growth. But the key ques­tion remains unanswered: Is Pakistan ready to reap the potential benefits of CPEC? Does Pakistan have enough soft infrastructure to attract investment in the industrial sector, especially Spe­cial Economic Zones (SEZs)? Pakistan may not have developed the funda­mentals needed to reap all the bene­fits of CPEC Phase II.

Three conditions are needed to reap the potential benefits of industrializa­tion and tourism: human capital (HC), rural connectivity (RC). ) and busi­ness environment (BE) that will at­tract foreign direct investment (FDI) and tourists. Considering human capi­tal, Pakistan has made little progress in education and health compared to oth­er South Asian countries. Second, Well-developed rural roads are needed to connect growth-generating sectors in different regions and achieve wider dis­tribution of economic benefits.

They are also a prerequisite for the development of remote or environmen­tally difficult areas. Infrastructure in­vestment in rural areas leads to higher agricultural and non-agricultural pro­duction, employment and income. Ru­ral linkages with SEZs are key to creat­ing opportunities for the poor to uplift their economic status, which is a pre­cursor to inclusive growth.

In South Asia, Pakistan is also ranked fifth among eight countries. Indica­tive data shows that getting electricity (ranked 123), paying taxes (ranked 161), trading across borders (ranked 111) and enforcing contracts (ranked 156) are highly Low performance indicators.

We know that a good institutional framework, political stability and an in­dependent legal system etc. play an in­tegral role in improving these indica­tors. So not surprisingly, the quality of the institutional framework in Pakistan is very poor. To maximize the potential benefits of CPEC, Pakistan needs to im­prove these conditions, in which it is currently underperforming.

Pakistan needs to invest in develop­ment institutions that need restruc­turing to improve the legal framework, enforce the rule of law and ensure po­litical stability. Political stability will be critical to the success of any devel­opment project and accountability pro­cess. This undermines the growth pro­cess, creates investment uncertainty, discourages international investors and discourages tourists. Where there is some good news is the government on reforms and ease of doing business. Fo­cusing efforts are being made to imple­ment positive impacts.

However, these reforms will not yield the desired results unless we have a stable political environment and im­prove the effectiveness of government.

The development of local roads and transport systems should be part of the CPEC agenda. Without creating lo­cal connectivity, roads and SEZs cannot generate the desired economic growth and employment.

As we are entering in the second phase after the success of phase one of the great project the Federal & all four Provincial governments should also proactively plan then develop local road and transportation networks. At that point human capital development should be facilitated through formal education and technical training, espe­cially in disadvantaged districts. Con­sequently government should design area-specific training courses to meet local needs then it will be more fruitful for the country’s bright future.

Syed Ali Nawaz Gilani
The writer is the Secretary General of Pakistan China Friendship Association Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter and a Peshawar-based Senior Media Consultant. He can be reached at

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