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Archana Gupta asked: Can CPEC help build consensus amongst opposing sides in Pakistan, and thus help bring stability and economic development?

Priyanka Singh replies: Pakistan’s internal security situation has been on a downward trajectory. This is despite the army’s projected resolve to rid the country of militancy and violence - an idea that is much hyped during Raheel Sharif, the outgoing army chief’s tenure. In view of recurring incidents of mass killing abetted by several militant groups across Pakistan, especially Balochistan, the prospects of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) acting as a harbinger of stability and development appear more than dismal. Within Pakistan, inter-provincial rivalry/discord has marred the pace of development-oriented infrastructure projects, glaring examples being the Kalabagh dam and the Diamer Bhasha dam project.

On the CPEC, there is much bad blood between the provinces over the preferred route options and share in the proceeds from several constituent projects. Besides, there is bitter resistance in Balochistan, a crucial province in the CPEC layout, where people believe their resources are being exploited to serve Chinese interests. Similarly in Gilgit Baltistan (part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir), people are oblivious about their role and share in the CPEC. Overall, there is a constant sense of apprehension in Pakistan’s constituents units whether somewhat similar to the character of politics and army in Pakistan, the CPEC too will be comprehensively dominated by the Punjabis/Punjab. Such disconcerted thinking and opinion has been prevalent in Pakistan, gravely overshadowing the popular enthusiasm involving the sheer size and volume of over $46 billion Chinese aided development corridor.

Hence, in this context, the possibility of CPEC ushering in peace, stability and development in Pakistan is grim. Pakistan needs to shed its long standing affinity to militancy as an instrument of state policy, inspire confidence amongst provinces, and thereby create an environment conducive for economic development and stability.

Posted on November 04, 2016

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