We have known for a while that opposition politics coupled with a concern for the security of Chinese workers might drive Beijing away. Yet, political parties like the PTI have been crying foul over the CPEC since the beginning. At least the People’s Party (PPP) seems to have taken a more nationalistic stance, with leader Senator Sherry Rehman expressing concern over the government’s failure to resolve differences among the provinces over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Recent reports circulating in the Chinese state media have expressed concern for the growing cost of the CPEC project. Pakistan needs to hold on to its strongest ally China amid tensions with the other neighbours.

Rehman suggested that the government implement the resolution on CPEC passed by a multi-party conference. She also echoed the resounding opinion that the country needs a full-time foreign minister to direct focus on diplomacy. The PPP have claimed time and again that it laid the foundation for what has now become the biggest achievement of the PML-N government, while Musharraf takes credit for developing Gwadar. This is one project that has survived government transitions, and this potential to create peace and collaboration between parties must be tapped into. The way provinces continue to express their discord over the trade routes just points to the unfortunate fact that we have not yet learned let go of personal ambition and opportunism.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak has admitted recently that CPEC has enhanced the strategic importance of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the future of the province looks very bright. He also admitted that the western route of CPEC would be the shortest one due to which economic activities would flourish in the province as compared to other provinces. However, that does not stop the KP government from politicising the project, from protests on the streets to cases in court.

A controversy was triggered regarding the change of the western route by the Awami National Party (ANP) followed by PTI government in KPK, notwithstanding the fact that the government through several briefings and APCs did clear the doubts and fears about the alleged change of route. The three routes finalised were also made public, including the western route. The Chinese embassy in Islamabad is also on record to have corroborated the government position. The Chinese Ambassador reportedly met Imran Khan to discuss the issue and as per media reports, the latter felt satisfied regarding the CPEC initiative. Stalling CPEC helps no one. Demands for more routes and roads will only be seen as undue criticism from Pakistan.