A HOST of geopolitical developments may breathe new life into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that was perceived to be running out of steam since the PTI government assumed power in 2018.
Covid-19 has caused disruptions around the world this year, but CPEC-related activities appeared tepid even before the pandemic struck.
CPEC-watchers see the launch of two hydel power projects in quick succession in Azad Kashmir and a special economic zone (SEZ) in Faisalabad this month as early signs of the rejuvenation of the multi-billion-dollar programme. To remove roadblocks and ensure timely progress, the government is also working on the CPEC Authority Bill 2020 that will further empower the dedicated authority created last year.
Regional realignments and the changing dynamics in the Middle East, West and South Asia may work in Pakistan’s favour. The oil shock and greater realisation in the Arab world of a shared future seem to be drawing even the hostile nations closer. Iran under US sanctions has drifted closer to China vis-à-vis India for being undeterred by an aggressive US stance. The Afghan peace process is moving despite minor setbacks. The pandemic and border tension with China have compromised India’s capacity to irritate Pakistan. All these developments are said to be conducive for CPEC progress.
Talking to Dawn earlier, PTI leaders dismissed the perception about Chinese reluctance, insisting that it is peddled by its political opponents and the forces hostile to Pakistan. Chinese diplomats in Pakistan repeated the official position of being committed to the Belt and Road Initiative of which CPEC is a key component.