China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is termed as a ‘game changer’ and a milestone in unleashing the process of development in Pakistan is still in its formative phase. Termed as a mega project of now 56 billion US dollars, CPEC primarily concentrates on energy and infrastructure development in Pakistan while linking the Gwadar port with the Chinese province of Xinxiang for trade purposes. What are the hard tasks under CPEC and how the adherence of time line to complete various schemes under that gigantic project can help Pakistan deal with the issues of under-development? Is the right kind of environment, professionalism, skills and expertise, which is required for a smooth sailing of a mega project like CPEC, available in Pakistan? To what extent professional approach is pursued by the Pakistani counterparts of CPEC to complete their homework on undertaking projects particularly those related to infrastructure development? According to the reports, lack of coordination between federal and provincial governments on setting up special economic zones and project of 8.2 billion dollars for expanding the main railway lines particularly Karachi-Peshawar section has caused delays. Necessary planning and paper work, which is essential to give a practical shape to CPEC related projects, are facing delays because of bureaucratic hurdles. Planning Commission, National Economic Council and Central Development Party face enormous difficulties in coordinating with provincial governments on preparing feasibility study of special economic zones. When the Chinese teams visit Pakistan to get the updates on CPEC related projects, the failure on the part of their Pakistani counterparts to do their homework becomes a source of embarrassment. It is in this scenario that one needs to examine what are the issues and challenges which may derail CPEC and cause enormous loss to Pakistan. Learning from the Chinese and other successful models of development is imperative for a bright future of Pakistan. Social structures must be changed by giving priority to the public education sector, adhering to merit, eradicating feudal and tribal values, and subscribing to professionalism Four major challenges exist on the Pakistani side as far as the hard task of CPEC is concerned. First, lack of professionalism, which was also mentioned by the In charge Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal the other day that “a Chinese team is coming next month and it is unfortunate that provincial governments have sought two more months to finalise feasibility studies for their respective economic zones.” These economic zones are termed as a hub of industrial activities in different provinces of Pakistan, will create thousands of jobs and attract huge investments. Professionalism requires sound work ethics, competence and a better sense of responsibility. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s predicament is the erosion of work ethics and professionalism in the last four decades resulting into sharp decline in its exports, low industrial and technological growth. Second, bad governance and the absence of the rule of law can be termed as another challenge for CPEC. If various models of development are studied, it becomes clear that without good governance and the rule of law neither foreign investment can take place nor one can expect the assurance of quality and standard in projects and schemes prepared. China emerged as the world’s second largest economy because of its governance system and adherence to the rule of law. Pakistan’s lack of focus on issues which are central to ensure good governance can be termed as a major challenge in taking CPEC to its logical conclusion. Third, education and scientific knowledge play a vital role to strengthen the process of social and human development. The decline in the standard of education in Pakistan along with the absence of research culture is a fundamental reason why Pakistan is 147 in Human Development Index. China, since the last several decades has given priority to education and science which played a pivotal role in transforming that country from a backward and illiterate to a modern and industrialised society. The success of CPEC heavily depends upon quality education and scientific research in Pakistan so that professional expertise is utilised in projects for better results. Around 26,000 Pakistani students are currently getting education in China in different fields and it is expected that upon their return their services can at best be utilised in the process of development in CPEC and non-CPEC projects. Fourth, security and law and order are the pre-requisites for the success of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Although, a special security division has been raised by the military to protect CPEC and to provide security to Chinese workers and technicians but a congenial and peaceful environment can certainly build trust and confidence among foreigners about their stay, travel and movement in Pakistan. Pakistan is a country of more than 200 million people with enormous opportunities for development and modernisation of the country’s industrial, economic and infrastructural base. Yet, qualitative change in Pakistani society cannot take place only by CPEC as indigenous efforts and resources for development are essential. China and India are the models of the policy of self-reliance as the two didn’t depend on foreign aid for their development as they were confident that with their expertise and mobilising their own resources they can achieve success. Whereas, since its inception as a new state in August 1947 till today, Pakistan’s economy is import and aid driven which relegated the country’s position in social and human development. The daunting task of CPEC is not only to deal with the challenges but also to make sure that within the stipulated period of time projects are completed with proper quality and standard. Learning from the Chinese and other successful models of development is imperative for a bright future of Pakistan. For that matter, social structures of Pakistan must be changed by giving priority to good quality education to its children and youth, adherence to merit, eradicating feudal and tribal system, subscribing to proper work ethics and pursuing a professional approach. Is the leadership of Pakistan capable of dealing with the challenges of development particularly those related to CPEC projects? As long as corruption, nepotism, compromise on merit, culture patronisation and laziness looms large, one cannot expect Pakistan to get even closer to developed societies. As rightly said by the founder of communist China Mao Tse Tung that, “a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” Pakistan must first take the first step to achieve the goals of development, modernisation and progress by having a leadership which is selfless, honest and a doer like in case of China and other successful countries. The writer is Meritorious Professor of International Relations at the University of Karachi. E. Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, September 29th 2017.