India is opposed to the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which will run through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, but what is interesting is that Pakistan itself fears that the corridor may end up benefiting India! According to a report in the Dawn, Pakistan MPs have expressed skepticism that the CPEC may be used by China to boost its trade ties with India. The report said that some lawmakers at the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development felt that China was building the corridor to “explore new vistas of trade with different countries”. This included India and other countries in Europe and Central Asia.
The report went on to add that Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, the Chairman of the committee, was of the view that China will use the corridor to give an economic boost to its 8 underdeveloped provinces. This, he said, would be possible with the advantage that improved road and railway connectivity will provide. “China will definitely use the CPEC to expand trade with India because one who invests always watches one’s interests first,” Mashhadi was quoted as saying.
Incidentally, earlier this month, Dawn’s editorial had criticised the CPEC, calling it a “poorly planned” project. The “constant changes” in the power projects to be constructed under CPEC send a signal to the investors that Pakistan is a “high-risk” country and dampen their “enthusiasm”, the editorial said. The editorial cited reports that two more project under CPEC may have been hit due to “reservation” about the use of imported coal. The projects include a 660MW power project, which has been shunted, and the other project in which sponsors have been asked to find foreign financing and shift to local coal. While these changes have put a “question mark” over the entire project, the government of Pakistan is all set to commission an imported LNG-based 1200 MW power plant, the editorial said.
Last week, Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the start of operational activities at the coastal town of Gwadar in southwestern Balochistan province. The revamped Gwadar port is a strategic deep seaport in the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. With the inauguration, the port became operational in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan.