Lahore - Everybody present in the hall raises his hands in negative as he concludes his arguments on China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor and its impact on the region. “It’ll change the landscape and provide a lot of job opportunities to youth,” says Musaddik Malik, Special Assistant to PM for Water and Power. “It’s a bet, and not a gamble; we’re just betting for our generations,” he explains. But, his stance of terming CPEC a bet surprised the audience of a session titled ‘India Turns East: US China Rivalry’.

At this, Moderator Khurram Hussain said he wanted the panelists to talk about the CPEC’s impact on Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Musaddik Malik said that he himself was confused about this aspect of the project but he urged the audience to accept it with open heart, arguing: “Pakistan is one candidate like many others, so we should accept it”.He further argued that CPEC was like Chinese Old Silk road as the China wanted to regain its power.

“Chinese may go elsewhere if we deny,” he said and questioned as to why China should be denied coming here to invest.

Terming the corridor an ‘investment’, he said if Pakistan wanted to do trade, it should welcome the Chinese.  He claimed the government had evaluated merits and demerits.

However, the debate turned out to be interesting when a woman questioned about the government’s

evaluation.

 “It’s diversity and diversity is virtue; lets diversity role us," Malik replied to the woman who showed her dissatisfaction. “This not a satisfactory answer,” the woman said.

Trying the merits and demerits of the project, Malik said that 30 per cent of the budget was being spent on education but diffusion of the modern technology from China to Pakistan would bring more change and have more impact on education and other sectors. However, the audience rejected his stance by showing a gesture of ‘No’.

On the start, the moderator shared information about increasing number of Chinese citizens in Pakistan.

“In a decade, the number of Chinese citizens staying in Pakistan jumped to 30,000 from 9000. But this is just a beginning”, said Hussain. He said the real impact would start in November when the whole CPEC project would be functional.

“Foreign policy is the impact which I’m not sure yet,” he said, adding that “this is the aspect which has not been talked about much,”.

Frédéric Grare, the other panelist, said that he was partly agreed with Mussadik Malik about the benefits of the CPEC but he was still unsure about the merits and demerits of the project, saying that “there are possibilities of more tensions in the future for Pakistan with its neighbor India,”. “India is not happy with the project,” he said adding that “But, Pakistan needs instability from the within to reap the benefits of the project,”.

“There are many “Ifs” in your arguments, though, I’m partly agreed,” said Mr. Grare who had authored a book titled “ India Turns East: US China Rivarly”.

 ‘it’s hoped that the everything would be done with consensus of the majority public,” Khurram Hussain concluded.