The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a very critical infrastructural project and the development of this economic corridor is a win-win situation for both China and Pakistan.

This project has tremendous potential of increasing economic prospects and activity in Pakistan as the pre‐existing ports, Karachi and Qasim, cannot handle much more traffic and Gwadar will help accommodate the increasing domestic demand. It will also enable Pakistan to expand its interactions with Central Asian countries and Afghanistan as in the case of China.

It would also help Pakistan to counter Indian influence in the region, position itself as a major transit point connecting Eurasian region with South Asia and South East Asia and provide a much needed base to kickstart its economic growth.

The plan will help Pakistan to become one of the most strategically important countries in the region. This project will run through most of Pakistan starting from Gwadar in Balochistan and ending in Kashgar in western China, while passing through parts of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan to reach the Khunjrab Pass and beyond to China.

Pakistan has prepared a plan to construct three corridors after active consultation with the Chinese authorities; these are the eastern, the central and the western routes.

The eastern route of the corridor originates from Gwadar, travels parallel to the Makran Coastal Highway eastwards (towards Karachi), and then after passing through parts of interior Sindh, and southern, central and northern regions of Punjab, it reaches Islamabad. From Islamabad, it extends to Haripur, Abbottabad and Mansehra districts of the relatively peaceful Hazara Division in KP–this part of the corridor will also run through Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Jammu and Kashmir–and reaches Khunjrab after passing through Diamer and Gilgit areas in northern Pakistan. The corridor will also run through the Pamir Plateau and Karakoram mountains. A link from Taxila through Peshawar and Torkhum will connect the eastern alignment of the corridor to Jalalabad in Afghanistan.

Regional connectivity with India through the eastern alignment is designed to be provided through the Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas-Khokhrapar-Zero Point link and the Wagha border, Lahore.

According to the western route plan, the economic corridor (highway and railway) starts from Gwadar and runs through some southern and eastern districts of Balochistan (Khuzdar and Dera Bugti, respectively), and some districts in South Punjab to reach D.I. Khan in KP. From D.I. Khan, it further extends to Islamabad and Abbottabad and from there onwards, the route is the same as in the eastern alignment. The western alignment will have an additional regional connectivity link to Afghanistan through Chaman and will connect with Iran through Quetta-Kho-e-Taftan link.

Pakistan faces several challenges in the implementation of the project including political unrest, a tumultuous security situation, administrative issues and opposition from the United States and India.

The construction of the corridor has been defined by many as a strategic moment such that Pakistan has assumed the position of economic centre for the whole region. Terrorism is the biggest issue and it has remained no secret that India, through its intelligence agency RAW is trying its best to disrupt the project by supporting the terrorists and spreading unrest, especially in Balochistan. And now their cause is going to be aided by some so-called nationalist parties which seem to act on the tune of the opposing countries for financial gains to disrupt the project.

The Awami National Party is one such party that has recently made known that it is not pleased with the work on CPEC so it has decided to launch public protests against the project in smaller provinces. The party is again repeating the same mantra of old that small provinces are being deprived off from the benefits of the project. It may be recalled that the same party was also among those political parties who rigorously opposed Kalabagh Dam project that has resulted in massive power blackouts and consequently, hindered the growth of economy. Now the same people are trying to sabotage this great project for their seemingly vested interests and political gains. But it can be hoped that such nefarious designs would be shunned by the people of Pakistan who consider CPEC a real game changer that has started bringing economic revolution in the common man’s life.

The argument that some parts of the country are being deprived of the corridor’s benefits are totally baseless as in the longer term, all these cities will be connected to the corridor. It is quite unwise for such political elements to go after such a project that would realise the country’s dream of economic independence as they would be themselves become the victims of their propaganda.

The CPEC has significant importance for a country like Pakistan, which has a struggling economy since long and is billions of dollars in debt to international financial agencies and western countries in the shape of loans.

This is a golden opportunity for the country and the government is trying its best to overcome all external and internal challenges to realise this dream project to reap rewards for the first time for its naturally important geographic position in the region. Failure is not an option for Pakistan as this is the opportunity that could make it economically independent and bring prosperity and stability. Although there are many external and internal challenges and factors, which are trying to sabotage the project yet the potential of the economic and strategic benefits would likely keep the administrators of the country determined to overcome all the challenges to materialise this plan in its true spirit to achieve the goal of a prosperous Pakistan.