The goodwill between China and Pakistan, as well as their unanimity of views, has been irritating a section of realpolitik for long. This is why confusions are concocted to undermine one of the world’s most promising developmental projects, named BRI-cum-CPEC, which connects more than 2.5 billion people from Central Asia down to Africa via Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. A report from a think tank says that CPEC funding to Pakistan lacks transparency, and the country will be burdened with loans sought on an exaggerated and secretive decorum. Moreover, it interprets sovereign guarantees as hidden debt.
This is an utterly misinterpreted impression as well as fudging of figures to paint CPEC in bad light. It has political connotations too. As a rebuttal, Federal Minister Asad Umar had no qualms in admitting that Pakistan has a debt-servicing problem, but did not have a China debt. It was an articulate rejoinder pertaining to loans from Beijing for a host of CPEC projects in the power and infrastructure sectors. All inputs in the CPEC basket enjoy parliamentary oversight, and have promptly been shared with international donors. The point is the ambitious $60 billion Chinese investment is Pakistan’s lifeline, which came at a time when Southwest Asia was in civil-strife, and the global economy was nosedived. China is outspending the US by almost 10 times in hard infrastructure, energy and communication. Inevitably, it has come as a geostrategic injection to Islamabad’s ailing health too, and kick-started the wheel of geo-economics in the region.
The multi-route corridor dots several power generation projects, mostly run by the private sector. Similarly, there are American and western companies too, thus dispelling the iota of Chinese monopoly. Contrary to propaganda, CPEC loans for private power projects are comparatively cheaper than loans from other international agencies. While Pakistan for decades has been struggling to service its unproductive international debt, Chinese loans are a whiff of fresh air as they generate employment opportunities in industrial and agricultural sectors. The loans from Beijing don’t have skeletons in the cupboard.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2021.
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