China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of China’s grand Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). CPEC has received applause globally and is also seen as a foot towards peace and stability in South Asia, the region that is always on the streamline because of India and Pakistan rivalry since 1947. India has come out as the only major opposition to CPEC and it also did not attend the Belt and Road conference in May. India’s hostility towards CPEC also stems from its suspiciousness towards BRI, as it can lead to more Chinese influence in the region and also in the global arena. India worries that through CPEC and BRI, China will intrude on India’s power in areas like Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and the East Africa Coast countries. Indians are also wary of the fact that China’s grand strategy with further strengthen china’s maritime gains also known as the String of Pearls.

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India’s apprehensions towards CPEC are widely known and they are mainly worried that Pakistan’s economy will grow and become more stable, which India cannot tolerate as India does not wants to see a prosperous Pakistan and they are also influencing terrorism in Pakistan which is further proved by the capture of RAW agent Kulbhushan Yadav. India also points finger at CPEC because it passes through Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. However, India sees China’s initiative as a geopolitical competition and is using the Kashmir issue as a lame excuse to go up against the project. Additionally, India is against infrastructure development in Pakistan and also in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. It is against their interest to see the region developing and progressing thus the opposition.

India’s anxiety is mainly rooted in a territorial dispute as it maintains that the corridor will run through Pakistan’s Kashmir region. Such an attitude is both unfortunate and petty. Keeping aside the fact that CPEC is a bilateral matter, the project, if executed in a clear and lucid manner, and keeping the goals and ambitions of all players in mind, has the potential to transform the economy of the region. The corridor is a small cog in a larger plan which focuses on connectivity. Not to mention the far encompassing benefits for the entire region. CPEC provides Pakistan the opportunity to become a central trade and commercial hub not just for China, but for the Central Asian Republics, Russia, Afghanistan and Iran as well. Moreover, it provides China, access to warm waters to spread its trade volume exponentially. This does not bode well with policy-makers in India, who have a two point agenda; to constrain Pakistan by any means possible, and to challenge the rise of China as the regional leader.

CPEC is not just a project that is limited to Pakistan; it would prove to be a game changer for the entire region. It is imperative that all the stakeholders implement the project with transparency and do not let the project be marred by corruption and other issues. If India does not want to be part of the project, Pakistan and China should not keep inviting them in the project as it is already being implemented successfully without India. India’s paranoia is increasing with the efficient and effective implementation of CPEC. India’s attitude towards CPEC and BRI is a hindrance towards the stability and development of the region and if India does not want to be part of these projects, at least it should not try to sabotage the flourishing future of the region.

 

The writer is a Young Professional at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad.

Junaidashraf87@hotmail.com