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10 years of CPEC and the economic growth of Pakistan

Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) organized a full-day in-house roundtable discussion on “10 years of CPEC and the economic growth of Pakistan” on August 11, 2023. The sub-themes of the talk included “Overview and evolution of CPEC over the last ten years”, “Economic growth and development achieved through CPEC initiatives”, “Infrastructural advancements and their implications on trade and connectivity”, “Challenges faced and opportunities for further progress”, and “The role of CPEC in regional and global economic integration”. Experts on CPEC, economy, and Pak-China relations participated.

Initiating the talk, Director PIPS Muhammad Amir Rana said the rationale behind organizing the talk was to review the progress on CPEC and how it has benefitted Pakistan. He also said that the talk would prove fruitful in seeking policy recommendations on how to make CPEC a success for Pakistan.

Dr. Fazl Ur Rehman, Director Pakistan Institute of China Studies, talked about the genesis of CPEC and said that it began with the construction of Gwadar Port. He said further that when the US came up with the idea of “Pivot to Asia”, XI Jinping also saw the changing geopolitical landscape and intensifying competition and launched the BRI. However, he lamented that the only driving force behind the CPEC has been China, and Pakistan is playing the role of only a recipient.

Ali Salman, Executive Director of Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME), underscored that getting value from investing in infrastructure is not sustainable. Talking about the initial investment made by China in CPEC, he said it was $50 billion – the biggest ever in the BRI. “Alone CPEC cannot deliver in the trade, and China has done its part and now it’s Pakistan’s turn to make CPEC a success”, he said.

Hamayoun Khan, Program Advisor at Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, said that CPEC has been made to focus only on the industrial sector and the agriculture sector has been completed ignored which is pivotal to Pakistan’s economic progress. He suggested that Pakistan should not invest too much of its resources and time in national security alone but should also pursue its broader geoeconomic interests.

Shahzada Zulfiqar, a Quetta-based senior journalist and ex-president PFUJ, remarked that the perception about CPEC in Balochistan has not changed. He suggested that the Chinese should address the grievances of Baloch people to make CPEC a success. “The Baloch separatists are not fighting the Chinese but Pakistan”, he noted and concluded the talk.

PIPS researchers focusing CPEC also participated in the discussion and shared their monitoring and analyses reviews.