Just as there is wider recognition for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a game changer for Pakistan, there should be greater understanding of the legal, social, cultural and economic aspects of the multi-billion-dollar investment project among all segments of the population. Such a course of action was proposed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on May 5th through serious dialogue aimed at assessing the impact of CPEC. In the past, the federal government had been quick to shoot down any suggestion of a thorough assessment on the suspicion that naysayers and doubters were only toeing the line of the country’s foes.
It would not be wrong to say that political outfits have overly politicised CPEC at different times in the hope of extracting an extra bit of their share at the cost of another party or province for that matter. And they will probably continue to do so — until of course all stakeholders reach consensus on what the rules of engagement are and finalise what everybody’s share will be — without the need for arbitration. The ruling party itself has not exactly been above this political skullduggery, scrambling whenever backs are turned to wangle maximum benefits from CPEC. This is why the CJP’s appeal for closer evaluation of CPEC strikes more than a chord. Such an examination is critical to the cause of capacity-building which is an exercise that could address the legal and administrative complexities that hold the country back from realising the full potential of CPEC investments.
The sheer amount of Foreign Direct Investment demands that stakeholders look at all the myriad ways to maximise the potential benefits not just for one province or the other but for the whole country. This can be done only when CPEC is seen as part of the national agenda and a legitimate means to further our country’s strategic policy and future course of action.
It is particularly useful to see how CPEC will impact the environment and ecology in the long run. We must not gloss over these aspects if we expect to use CPEC investment as a guarantee of Pakistan’s future stability and development.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2018.