What is International Crisis Group?
The ICG is a transnational non- profit, non-governmental organization founded in 1995 that carries out field research on violent conflicts and advances policies to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflicts. It advocates policies directly with the government, multilateral organisations and political actors as well as the media.
What is CPEC?
China- Pakistan Economic Corridor is a collection of infrastructure projects launched on April 20, 2015 and is currently under construction through Pakistan. It is a 2,700 km route that starts on the Pakistani Arabian sea port of Gwadar, in Balochistan province. It climbs along the Karakoram Highway through the Khunjerab pass in Gilgit-Baltistan, before crossing into the Kashgar prefecture in China’s Xianjiang region. This massive bilateral project has been taken-up to improve the infrastructure within Pakistan for better trade with China and to further integrate the countries around this region. Around 51 agreements and memorandums of understanding valued at $46 billion were signed. The goal of CPEC is both, to transform Pakistan’s economy- by modernising its road, rail, air and energy transportation system - and to connect the deep-sea Pakistani ports to that of China’s. CPEC is a part of the larger Belt and Road Initiative to improve connectivity, trade, communication and cooperation between the countries of Eurasia. CPEC has been compared to the Marshall plan for the rebuilding of post-world war ii Europe in potential impact on the region, and also numerous countries have shown interest in participating in the Initiative.
FINDINGS of the ICG:
Opportunities: The CPEC comprises of loans, investments and grants that could fetch funds around $60 billion. Within Pakistan’s territory, the economic and development projects prioritises transport, infrastructure, industrial development, energy, etc. Pakistani leaders say that CPEC is a “game-changer” for the country's ailing economy.
Risks: Opaque plans for the corridor is likely to affect the locals. CPEC could help revive Pakistan’s economy provided it moves ahead with a thorough debate in the parliament, else it is likely to deepen the friction and create social divides and also new sources of conflicts.
Problems faced by people: Widespread discontent among localities over issues like inadequate employment. It has also become a matter of great concern as of now they are worried about the overbearing presence of military because they have already borne the aggressive actions of the military in the past.
China’s stand on the issue: China is desperate to avoid incidents that can upset the project because it would best showcase for Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative which it wants to spread across all continents.
The Pakistani Government’s Reaction to the findings:
A Lahore- based business leader with close knowledge of Pakistan’s dialogue with China said, “ as Pakistan gets more isolated internationally, we’re hoping that China will give us a Veto ( exercise a Veto on Pakistan’s behalf) in the UN Security Council, diplomatic and moral support, as well as put pressure on India . That's what the military wants”
A senior journalist who has long covered security issues said, “The military sees CPEC as a counterforce to a hostile America and India. It will latch on to China if the deals are unfair to Pakistan “.
Some Chinese analysts now consider it the “flagship “of the Belt And Road Initiative. CPEC offers an opportunity to upgrade Pakistan’s aging and dysfunctional infrastructure, and revive a flagging economy.
Indian Government’s Reaction to the CPEC:
In the aftermath, it was argued that New Delhi not concurring with the Chinese request to join the CPEC would be a gigantic folly. It can now clearly be said that China has snatched away Indian primacy in the region. If one plots the corridor along the path, one will see that it actually runs parallel to the LOC between India and China. So if India joined up in the CPEC project, in geopolitical terms, Pakistan would have had faced a quandary and India would have gained access to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir but that has not happened. The current managers of India’s security policy thought that a clear alignment with China, Russia and Iran would possibly cause them to lose traction in the West.
If all the potential resources are channelized, CPEC could promote Economic development and growth. Pakistan should determine all the positive and negatives based on its own economic and political interests instead of trying to appease China’s interest. The CPEC is yet a milestone to achieve, looking forward towards Pakistan’s democratic transition. Pakistan’s economy clearly needs reforms to better serve its people. And officials expect CPEC to be a great help in this regard.