The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is currently under construction at a cost of $46 billion which is intended to rapidly expand and upgrade Pakistani infrastructure, as well as deepen and broaden economic links between Pakistan and the People's Republic of China.
Infrastructure projects under the aegis of CPEC will span the length and breadth of Pakistan, and will eventually link the Pakistani city of Gwadar in southwestern to China's northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang via a vast network of highways and railways. Proposed infrastructure projects are worth approximately $11 billion, and will be financed by heavily-subsidized concessionary loans at an interest rate of 1.6% that will be dispersed to the Government of Pakistan by the “Exim Bank of China”- “China Development Bank” and the “Industrial and Commercial Bank of China”.
- The Karakoram Highway between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely overhauled.
- As part of infrastructure 1,100 kilometre long motorways will be constructed between the cities of Karachi and Lahore.
- 1350 kilometer long motorway will be constructed which will connect all major cities and Chinese border with Gawadar. Presently work to link Gawadar with Quetta by six lane motorway is in progress.
- A separate double carriage network will be constructed between Gawadar and all major Cities connecting Gawadar with Chinese Border and Afghan border, which will be only for transportation of containers.
- The Karachi–Peshawar main railway line will also be upgraded with twin tracks to allow for train travel up to 160 kilometers per hour.
- Pakistan's railway network will also be extended to eventually connect to China's Southern Xinjiang Railway in Kashgar. This track will be laid alongside Karakoram Highway for which Chinese engineers have already started paper work.
- A network of pipelines to transport liquefied natural gas and oil will also be laid as part of the project, including a $2.5 billion pipeline between Gawadar and Nawabshah to transport gas from Iran.
- At Gawadar a state of the art international airport will be constructed with two separate terminals. One for cargo transportation between Gawadar and China, the second for international flights as a huge number of air transportation is expected through Gawadar international airport.
Plans for a corridor, stretching from the Chinese border to Pakistan's deep water ports on the Arabian Sea, dates back to the 1960s and motivated construction of the Karakoram Highway beginning in 1967. Chinese interest in Pakistan's deep-water harbour at Gawadar had been rekindled by 2000, and in 2002 China began construction at Gawadar port which is still under completion because of political instability in Pakistan. Gawadar Port is deepest in the region. Chabahar port of Iran in approximately 11 meters in depth whereas Gawadar’s depth is much more than this.
EXPECTED FINANCIAL GAINS:
- China daily requires six million barrels of oil. Presently its shipment travels 12000 kilometers. If, its shipped through Gawadar the distance is reduced to 3000 kilometers, saving Chinese 20 billion Dollars per annum and Pakistan will get 5 billion dollars against this facility.
- It is estimated that around 80,000 trucks / Containers per month will travel toward Gawadar Port from China. Against this facility Pakistan will earn another handsome amount in billions of dollars.
- It is also estimated that around 100,000 trucks / containers will cross Pakistan to wards Gawadar Port from Central Asian Region and this facility will add good amount in our national exchequer in shape of dollars.
- When such a huge network of roads and pipes will be constructed, employment in every field will be required, which will help the country for employing labour, technicians, engineers, management graduates and highly technical personnel.
- With such a huge network of roads, railway and pipelines, number of business opportunities will be raised. These opportunities include hotels, pumps, industrial estates, shopping places and much more, which will again be very helpful for employing people and for contribution in the national exchequer.
INDIAN UNENTHUSIASTIC ROLE:
India and Afghanistan are working jointly to promote Iranian deep sea port of Chabahar against Gawadar Port of Pakistan. This is now an open secret that India is nakedly involved in sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan and to destabilize CPEC project with the active support of Afghan intelligence NDS. Sources added that RAW spy Yadev who is a serving officer in Indian Navy shared certain information during interrogation and such information led to the arrest of a NDS operator who had been living in Pakistan since long for helping terrorists to destabilize areas where CPEC project will run and would connect Gwadar Port to Chinese city of Kashi (Kashgar). These two developments were enough to expose intensive work done by intelligence agencies to make China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a failure.
Meanwhile, India is trying its best to stop Central Asian states to opt Gwadar Port for their international trade hub as all Central Asia countries are landlocked and they are using mostly Balkan ports and India is luring Central Asia republics to use Chabahar Port of Iran that will be fully operational by December 2016.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a tour of the Central Asian Republics (CARs)—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan in last July and sold the idea of connecting CARs with Chabahar Port through North South Corridor. This Corridor (route) starts from Kandla port of India to Chabahar port of Iran via sea and then moves on towards Central Asia through Iranshar, Zahedan and Mashhad. From Mashhad, it enters to Turkmenistan and crosses Chardzhor and then enters Uzbekistan at Bokhara. It runs from Bokhara to Tashkent and enters Kyrgyzstan via Dzhambul. This routes ends at Almty city of Kazakhstan.
This route will not only be time consuming but also expensive for cargo handlers of Central Asia. Mr. Modi was not very successful to sell this idea because North South Corridor is too long and too expensive option for CARs while Gwadar port of Pakistan is in their proximity (provided peace and security is ensured in Afghanistan as a bed of thorns lies between Pakistan and Central Asia).
Receiving a lukewarm response from Central Asian states during the visit of Mr. Modi, India started work on another option for offering a shorter route to CARs to reach Chabahar port.
Now India has decided to finance a new route that will run in Northern Afghanistan in the proximity of Central Asian borders. India will release a huge amount of over 5 billion rupees for new route that will run which is under consideration, from Heart-Leman-Bala Murghab—Cormach—Maymaneh—Andkhoy—Karamkal—Shaberghan—Aqchach to Mazar Sharif. It may be mentioned that every country of Central Asia is already connected with Mazar Sharif. New road networking will enable Chabahar to connect with other central Asia states while bypassing Turkmenistan and through Afghanistan, minimizing journey and cargo cost for Central Asian states of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to reach Chabahar port for international trade.
Development observers believe that Indian investment for uplifting road network to connect Chabahar port with Central Asia through a new road networking looks an attempt to diminish the importance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that can be shortest possible route to connect Central Asian republics with Gawadar Port to enhance Central Asian world trade.
India has already invested over $ 960,000 over Route 606 that is also known as Delaram–Zaranj Highway inside Afghanistan. The length of this route is over 200km. It connects Delaram (border city of Afghanistan) to Zaranj (Capital of Nimruz province of Afghanistan). Construction of this project started in 2005 and road was opened for trade in year 2009.
Financial interests of India, Iran and Afghanistan are knotted in Chabahar port while Pakistan’s interests are connected with CPEC and Gwadar port.
This complex situation narrates the saga of fragile relations of Pakistan with its two important neighbours, Iran and Afghanistan and of course the mechanism how India can use both of them against Pakistan anytime it wishes because economic interests are real foundation of foreign relations in today’s world.
But, one thing is essential and there, that Gawadar being the deepest port in the region has an edge over Chabahar, secondly even if CAR doesn’t attach their trade from Gawadar, China’s trade of oil and its commercial trade through Gawadar makes the project feasible. And, if 50% trade of CAR states is added, the profits will be sky high and Pakistan will earn good profits. So, there seems no fear, what so ever the strategy of Indian government towards CPEC, all we require is, to stand affirm and don’t let anybody to create any sort of disturbance in our country. This, I will request to all the parties and all the leaders.