Speaking his mind at a conference, Narendra Modi resolutely opposed the initiative by China to develop economic corridor between China and Pakistan. He warned China to stop developing the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) or face dire consequences in Balochistan.

CPEC is a collection of projects that aims to strengthen trade links between China and Pakistan. The project will cost around 46 billion dollars and will take the relationship between China and Pakistan to new heights. The primary purpose of the trade route is to shorten the distance for west-bound Chinese goods.

The network of highways and railway that will pass through the entire length of the country will have a positive impact on Pakistani infrastructure. The CPEC agreement stipulates that as part of the project, an 1,100 km long motorway will be built between Lahore and Karachi. Furthermore, the highway that runs between Rawalpindi and Chinese border will be overhauled. The main railway line that runs across Pakistan will also be reconstructed to allow trains to travel at speeds of up to 160 km per hour.

The project will have a phenomenal impact on Pakistan’s economy. Not only will it create 700,000 jobs at Gwadar port, it will have a knock-on effect on the economy as a whole. Picture this: A worker at Gwadar port earns a rupee and spends it on candy bar. The candy store earns a rupee. The store manager uses that rupee to order more supplies from the distributor. The distributor in turn places order with the manufacturer. The manufacturer uses the same bill to order nuts, sugar, and cream from the farmer. The money gets split and ends up in the hands laborers working in farms and manufacturing units. They now have more money to spend and a better standard of living. This money will be spent on different products, fueling activity in other sectors.

The project will add to the economic growth of Pakistan. According to a projection, the addition will be in the region of 2 and 2.5 percent per annum.

With competing political interests, China will be hard-pressed to cross the finish line without making a few enemies. The main threat to the project comes from India.

India’s biggest beef with the project is the passage of corridor through Azad Kashmir. Azad Kashmir is called “Pakistan Occupied Kashmir” in India. The region has been a bone of contention between the two countries since Pakistan came into being. All these years, India never gave up its claim over the region. Constructing the corridor through Azad Kashmir means China considers it a part of Pakistan and India sees this as open violation of its sentiments.

Moreover, India feels that China’s presence at Gwadar port will give it naval edge over India. It feels that access to Gwadar port will let China keep an eye on line of control.

Phunchok Stobdan, the former Indian ambassador asserts that development of CPEC is driven by nefarious motives. He believes that the project is motivated by the intent of besieging India.

The former Indian security advisor stated that the project is a major threat to India. According to him, the project was initiated by China and Pakistan to weaken India’s position in the region.

Nevertheless, stronger economic ties are going to benefit everyone in the region (including India). When countries trade with each other, they are more likely to respect each other’s views and less likely to go to war. No country should feel threatened by the CPEC initiative. If anything, economic ties will improve relationships between countries and create peace in the region.

Pressure from India is only going to add to regional tension. What New Delhi should realize is that scrapping off the project altogether will be detrimental to India too. Despite strong resistance from Indian leaders, there are still segments of Indian public that believe the economic corridor will benefit India.

The arrest of suspected spy from India’s Research and Analysis Wing is glaring evidence of India’s contempt for the economic corridor. It was a practical attempt at destabilizing Balochistan region in order to hinder the progress of economic corridor. According to Pakistan’s Secretary of Defense, India colluded with Afghanistan to set up a dedicated force to sabotage activities related to the economic corridor.

If India stays opposed to the project, it could lose heavily on the economic front.