Despite hostile world powers working to undermine the agreement and a global pandemic threatening to devastate entire economies, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is moving on to its second phase. The second phase has been envisioned to focus on the development of Special Economic Zones, the agriculture sector and socio-economic development.

As often reiterated before, CPEC, if it pans out, could be extremely profitable for both countries. Yet the first phase has not always proceeded smoothly. We are still quite behind on many of the projects which were planned to have already been finished by now – several construction targets have been missed out on, and there have been many project delays. As we move forwards towards Phase-II then, we should learn from past mistakes and vow to complete the previous incomplete projects as soon as possible. It is good that the government has assured that all projects of Phase-I of CPEC held up or delayed because of procedural or technical issues would be completed on a priority basis.

Other than construction delays, a second matter in which Pakistan should proceed more cautiously is regarding transparency and building diplomatic credibility. It should not be underestimated that there are certain countries which are greatly unhappy with CPEC – the United States, for example, has criticised the project many times, saying it lacks transparency and has added significantly to Pakistan’s foreign loan burden. With further tensions between the US and China over trade and the coronavirus pandemic, it is likely that the US will start voicing these concerns loudly. Coupled with the US’s warm relationship with India, which is currently embroiled in conflict with China, Pakistan can take advantage of its relationship with the US and close association to China for everyone’s benefit. If we can conclusively put the fears of the US to rest by implementing greater transparency, questions against our closest friend might also become irrelevant.