The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has been the subject of speculation. Its proponents, which are in huge numbers, consider it a game changer for Pakistan’s economy, while its critics think it is a debt trap for us, and that China will accrue far more benefits than Pakistan ever will. It is only a matter of opinion. It is our dilemma that many politicians keep their personal interests above the national interests. For instance, it was the PML-N leadership that negotiated the terms of the CPEC and how its various projects were to proceed. But when the PTI government took over, it wanted to renegotiate terms and conditions of some of the projects, including realignment of some routes. CPEC looks like a massive project ever undertaken in the country. But in the overall context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative proposed to run through 60 countries of Asia, Europe and Africa, it is relatively a small part of the gigantic plan. China, under CPEC, plans to set up industrial zones, power plants to boost energy supply and expand rail and road networks. The energy projects developed under CPEC have not only improved the power supply, but also created about 28,000 jobs. According to stats, development of infrastructure of various projects have absorbed more than 55,000 working hands. Although there is a long history of policy mess-ups, let’s allow the CPEC to proceed according to the laid-out plans. While creating jobs is Pakistan’s compulsion being the world’s fifth most populous country with the population of over 220 million, developing land routes is China’s compulsion as well. China is the world’s largest importer of oil. Presently, it procures its oil supply from the Middle East and routes it through the Strait of Malacca. This narrow stretch could be blockaded by aggressive designs of the US and India – both opposed to China’s developing as the global economic power. Besides importing oil through Strait of Malacca, 80 percent of Chinese exports pass through the same route. When CPEC promises to be the harbinger of prosperity for Pakistan, it provides a land route from our sea port Gwadar to the Xinjiang port of China. For China’s imports and exports, the land route will reduce the distance by thousands of kilometres compared with the sea route through Malacca Strait. It will save both the time and distance. At the same time, Chinese cargo transported by the land route laid out by the CPEC will provide us a regular source of income by way of toll taxes. Along the 3,000 km long Gwadar-Kashgar corridor, roadside hotels and motels will most likely spring up, creating job opportunities and promoting economic growth for the local populace. The economic activities generated because of the CPEC are unimaginable. Consider exploration of untapped mineral resources of Baluchistan undertaken by the Chinese companies. Both the countries will benefit, further strengthening the Sino-Pakistani relationship. So far, we had to cough up millions of dollars in fines for abrogating the Reko Diq contract with an Australian-Chile joint venture. A former chief justice, in his convoluted sense of justice, cancelled the contract, pushing the country into litigation in the international courts. Another bombshell has recently fallen on this poor nation when the UK High Court asked NAB to pay $1.2 million to settle Broadsheet’s claim. Company’s chief, the Moussavi guy and his coming generations won’t have to work again for a living, thanks to Pakistan. Surprisingly, the huge sum has to be paid by 4.30 p.m. on August 13, just a day before our Independence Day. Pakistan already paid $28million to the company in January this year. Although there is a long history of policy mess-ups, let’s allow the CPEC to proceed according to the laid-out plans. If China benefits more out of the CPEC projects, let it be. After all, China is pouring huge investment and bringing in technical know-how to develop our country. It deserves to benefit from it. If we had the required technology and will to develop our land, we could have done it by now. Instead, we have had to pay fines to foreign firms for failing to honour our commitments. Recall how Saudi Arabia was developed. In the late 30s and 40s, people lived in shacks and rode on camels before the oil was discovered. The oil wealth was buried deep underneath, but Saudis neither had the capacity nor the technology to capitalise on the hidden wealth. Saudi Arabia could not have been developed into what it is today had foreign technology not been allowed to explore the oil resource. Now people head for the Saudi land to seek employment. Who knows the CPEC might turn our country into a land of opportunities! The writer is a Lahore-based columnist.