CPEC is a project between Pakistan and China which will act as a bridge for the new Maritime Silk Route that envisages linking 3 billion people in Asia, Africa and Europe. It has been proposed by Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in May 2013, The CPEC is a 3,000-kilometer network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas from southern Pakistan’s Gwadar Port to Kashgar city, north-western China’s Xinjiang Uygur.

During President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan, China and the host country agreed to form a ‘1+4’ cooperation structure with the CPEC at the centre and Gwadar Port, energy, transport infrastructure and industrial cooperation being the key areas to achieve common development. It has been a year since the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was launched on a wave of Pakistani euphoria. It was called a game-changer– and Pakistanis outside government – have no clue what the rules are. The CPEC is not ‘controversial’. Every Chinese and Pakistani citizen knows the importance of this great project. And it is obvious that only an enemy of Pakistan and China would wish to disrupt this plan. The only problem with this project is that one specific party, involved in the decision-making process, wishes to complete this project on its own terms. For China, the only priority is to speed up the process. They do not want any delay or controversy. And this is understandable. It is a settled policy of China to keep trade and politics separate.

That is well reflected in China’s trade with India and the US. The Pakistan Army also wishes that the project is free of any controversy. The military would like the corridor to help fix the economic difficulties faced by our people, instead of being a cause for further divisions and mayhem. States with rival interests and agencies like RAW are against this project, something our military is cognisant of. The electricity generating projects are likely to saddle the Pakistani government with a massive fiscal burden but the real cost of CPEC is likely to be felt in the changing civil-military balance.

TASKEEN FATIMA,

Karachi, November 5.