While writing this article, I had a flashback of my visit to Beijing, China. I still remember the interactive discourse of a Chinese guest speaker in which he apprised the audience of three phases of China’s development of how China turned its rural economy into an industrial economy and how it became developed country from a developing country.

The Chinese have toiled a lot to develop their economy and now it is the time for China to dispense the fruits of its development in other regions. China’s One Belt One Road vision is one of the cornerstones of Chinese international trade policy and it has started implementing it. Fortunately, Pakistan is also part of China’s global development agenda through which China intends to integrate various regions through highways, railways and other communication networks. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is the finest manifestation of this vision.

The CPEC is the vision of two seasoned leaders of Asia-President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. Pakistan is luckily having, at present, the valiant leadership of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, who cherishes the dream of making Pakistan an Asian tiger. Having the economic vision and political sagacity, Mr. Sharif initiated the process of making the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor possible with the full support of the President of China. With the mutual agreement between two countries, the gigantic project of the region was kicked off couple of years back. Without any exaggeration, CPEC has become a symbol of Pakistan and China’s long living friendship and it has deepened the ties of the two time tested friendly nations.

CPEC is connecting China and Pakistan through highway networks, railway networks and optic fibre networks. The road and railway links are being connected from Kashgar, China, to Khunjrab, Pakistan and will pass through Gilgit-Baltistan. An eastern route would pass through Punjab and Sindh and then would reach to Gwadar, its ultimate destination. Similarly, Western route would pass through Southern KPK and Balochistan. Some of the highways have been constructed and transportation has also started in these areas. Some roads are being built to connect with the main routes and some are being repaired. Work on railways connecting passage from Gwadar to Kashgar is also underway.

There are other projects also under the umbrella of CPEC. It is also energy corridor. The Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan said in a seminar recently that this project would help Pakistan to have 11,000 MW to overcome its energy shortfall. He said 18 harvest projects worth 18.5 billion of CPEC are now under construction and would be completed by next year. The Thar coal fired power station is the key energy project in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Roads and industrial zones are being built in less privileged areas of Pakistan. The government has given top priority to the prosperity of people living in these areas. They will get employment and a lot of financial benefits from this gigantic project. The linking and integration of these areas with the national market of goods and services would make their fisheries, mining, livestock and other activities economically reasonable and will create income and jobs for these people. This would be a big boost to Pakistan’s economy as well as help in alleviating poverty in these areas. They would have direct access to mainstream markets, which would help them to sell their perishable items with rapid transportation and capitalise maximum from their products. It will not only generate economic activity in local areas but will give a boost to national income as well. Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms has rightly termed CPEC a “big bang” for Pakistan’s economy.

Through CPEC, China is making the biggest ever-foreign direct investment in Pakistan. China would also benefit a lot from this project. It would have direct access to the Arabian Sea through Gwadar port. The port will be used for import and export of Chinese goods, shipments and oil supply. In a way, it would cut Chinese distance for its international consumers markets and import of oil. China would also manufacture at industrial zones along the CPEC routes and sell its products in the area.

One of my friends met a woman in China who was in her 80s. She was making some kind of hair bands. He asked her, “Ma’m, do you need to work at this age for your living?” She replied, “No, I have enough money to live my rest of life. These may be needed in some other part of the world and it would be great pleasure for me to see my country’s product being used there.” This is the passion we also need to infuse among us. Hopefully, with the completion of energy and other projects under the umbrella of CPEC, the local industry will also flourish in this part of the region.

The Gwadar port is functional and the Prime Minister of Pakistan has recently said that all roads of prosperity would open from Gwadar. The present government is giving due importance to the concerns of people of the area. It is trying to employ maximum people from local areas. This is heartening that the first head of Gwadar Port Authority is also from Balochistan. The project will open new vistas for prosperity and peace in the region and would be a major initiative for the betterment of the local people also.

CPEC is not only a game changer rather it is a destiny changer of this region and hundreds of millions of people dwelling around this project. It is a multi-billion dollars project (46 billion USD), which will help the people of this region to integrate themselves with the emerging biggest economy of the world. India, Afghanistan and Iran can also benefit a lot from this project. Afghanistan can link itself with the project from its western route. Being a landlocked country and having no sea route nearby, Afghanistan can benefit this route for its import and export of goods. Moreover, by connecting its road links with Pakistan, more economic activity can be generated in Central Asian countries. Presently, the economic tilt is in favour of Asia and it is time for the countries of this region to brush aside their differences and unite economically for the wellbeing of their own people and the region. CPEC is a blessing in disguise in this regard.