S Rahman  -  Those who have had the opportunities to visit China and learn directly about President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), fully endorse Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s statement given at Davos that the Chinese BRI would link together a number of countries, regions and civilizations to create shared prosperity and that Pakistan is the most visible part of the BRI because of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan is the first country to be a part of this ‘shared prosperity’ vision which is also described by the Chinese leaders as a win-win programme i.e. a programme that carries benefits for all in terms of economic development and freer movement of people and greater cultural interaction among the countries, to quote PM Abbasi. Being the first beneficiary of such a project that is going to bring the world yet closer, means prosperity for the people of Pakistan.

According to an estimate, more than a million jobs would be generated in Pakistan under CPEC through its different phases of completion and good news is that CPEC is moving ahead on a fast track with the passionate involvement of PML-N government leaders who are sparing no moment for ensuring the completion of these projects with tremendous speed that has been publicly acknowledged by the Chinese functionaries and engineers.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, has received more appreciation in this regard with specific reference to the speedy completion of energy projects which, according to the Chinese experts, were completed in record time. Rather the world record was set in some of these projects. Besides power plants, the 50-plus-billion-dollar CPEC package includes highways, modernization of railways and ports, construction of airports and setting up of economic zones for export growth.

Prime Minister Abbasi has rightly claimed that “the results of CPEC-related projects have already started appearing as our cement plants produced 56 percent additional capacity and exports grew by 15 per cent”. This is not the only result of CPEC. Another good result is that Pakistan is rapidly becoming a global investment destination because the injection of billions of dollars by China, on whatever terms, has expanded the capacity of Pakistan’s economy, as also observed by diplomats of many countries who have already held meetings with Pakistani officials and businessmen to discuss the possibilities of launching ventures with mutual collaboration or joint ventures.

As regards the controversy spun unjustifiably around China’s terms of business in CPEC projects, there is no substance in the point raised sometimes by the detractors of CPEC who have tried to find faults with the Chinese programme of investment but in vain. The fact is that China seriously wishes to see its partners prosper through the shared prosperity vision and Pakistan is lucky enough to be one of the best partners of China. The senior Chinese functionaries have openly rebutted criticism on this account. So, there is no reason to believe that China is following in the footsteps of imperialist powers whose track record has not been good as they have always tried to take advantage of the borrower countries or those depending, at times, on aid. Chinese are, by nature, opposed to imperialist tendencies and they really want the world to move in the ‘shared prosperity’ perspective.

Abbasi’s view that CPEC is also boosting confidence of the investors and Pakistan is getting a lot of investment in addition to CPEC, is not wrong as many countries have showed interest in making investments in Pakistan.

The secure environment has also encouraged the potential investors from abroad who are now convinced that following the successful operations launched by Pakistani armed forces in the form of Operations Zarbe Azb, Raddul Fassaad and Khyber operation, terrorism has almost been wiped out from Pakistan.

There has also been widespread appreciation of an effective anti-radicalization initiative launched recently by Pakistan’s Aiwane Sadr (presidency) under the guidance of President Mamnoon Hussain and with the active support of a good number of ulema/religious scholars. The initiative revolves around the narrative ‘Paigham-i-Pakistan’, recently launched by President Mamnoon Hussain and consists of a 22-point Fatwa (religious decree) which has been signed by over 1800 ulema and religious scholars of all schools of thought from across the country. It rejects terrorism, extremism and sectarian hatred, and terms use of force to impose Shariah a rebellion against the state.

Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) is also lending complete support to this peace initiative and has started a mass contact campaign through Friday sermons in different mosques highlighting Paigham-i-Pakistan’, a national narrative to counter the mindset of terrorism, extremism and intolerance in the society. Sermons have already started in different parts of the country in which the ulema have stressed that any armed struggle in the name of enforcement of Shariah was contrary to the Islamic teachings and that the killing of innocent citizens on that account also had nothing to do with Islam. The killing of even a single person was like killing of the whole humanity, it was further stressed along with the demand for giving constitutional cover to the Paigham-i-Pakistan narrative through an act of the parliament.

S Rahman