Having what it takes
Accolades have exploded in the media, like fireworks in the night sky after a long-awaited victory, over President Xi’s signing of the $ 46 billion investment package in what has been dubbed as the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC).
But prudence demands that visions of economic boom and ubiquitous prosperity in our country, a la Western European and Japanese style, miraculous rising from the ashes of WW II in the wake of America’s Marshall Plan impetus, must be tampered with a dose of reality check.
Though the huge US aid indeed propelled the rebuilding and prosperity of those countries, the underlying factors such as the unbroken will, hard work , skill and dedication of those people, and the then prevailing safety and social environment no less contributed to their economic re-birth.
Consequently we must address the threshold question: Do the people of Pakistan and the country itself actually possesses such essential, nation building qualities to be able to optimally capitalise on the investment bonanza provided by China?
Perhaps, there are four basic factors or pre-requisites that will determine, on the bubble, the success or failure of the Economic Corridor endeavour.
Rightly or wrongly, the Balochis view these mega projects as an existential threat to their nationalistic aspirations and sovereign rights
First and foremost is the absolute imperative of security, domestic peace and tranquillity pre-existing in all parts of the country especially where the footprints of the Corridor activities would be the heaviest.
Of course when discussing nationwide security, the decades-long uprising and insurgency in Balochistan immediately comes to one’s mind. We have no option but to arrive at a settlement with the Baloch people, whatever that entails, so that the development work of CPEC is carried out in an atmosphere of peace and without any hindrance or threat of violence.
We mustn’t forget that one of the main reasons for Europe and Japan’s post WW II amazing growth was the existence of a peaceful, safe environment. Absent this enabling security and safety climate in the country any talk of the economic success of the Corridor would be a non-starter.
Rightly or wrongly, the Balochis view these mega projects as an existential threat to their nationalistic aspirations and sovereign rights. To bring about a meeting of minds, to pacify them, would indeed be a tough nut to crack by the central government — given the long blood history of their struggle and the atrocities inflicted upon them.
Secondly, if we want the Corridor to trigger China-like rate of progress then it behooves that we borrow from key Chinese experience and practices in governance, especially relating to project implementations. That would entail drastic changes in our bureaucracy and governmental regulations so that they together coalesce, like in China, as smoothening catalysts rather than stifling chains for optimum implementation and completion of these projects in record time.
The recent Qatar LNG disaster starkly depicts the kind of bureaucratic and regulatory mess we are in and Pakistan government’s utter incapacity and inability to handle and execute any one of the mega projects envisaged by the Pak-Chinese Corridor agreement.
To bring about the necessary reform in governance we must adequately empower the condign elements of the governmental machinery.
Thirdly, in a similar vein, our social environment, including our lazy, languorous, sedentary lifestyle wrapped in religious obsession have to change in a big way.
Swallowing our false pride we should adopt some of the practical, productive, progressive Chinese ways of living and work ethics, ways that have catapulted China to the top of the world in economic achievement and human attainment.
If we are really serious and sincere in achieving economic progress and prosperity and the wellbeing for our people, then we must unconditionally embrace modernity and pragmatism as long-lost, true friends rather than shunning them away with suspicion as enemies.
Like the people of China, we must demonstrate an indomitable will to succeed, a steely determination to work hard and an unshakeable belief in our ourselves, and in our capabilities to achieve our goal of economic independence and prosperity.
For in the final analysis it’s not the quantum of foreign aid but what we as recipients do with that aid that matters. And what we actually do would be instrumental in realising the breakthrough economic boom that we so ardently seek
Finally, the success of the PCEC would require a proactive, dynamic, heroic role on the part of our own domestic businessmen and entrepreneurs to fully exploit the advantages offered by this once-in-a lifetime Chinese investment in Pakistan.
Why? Because the investment or loans by Chinese entities would mostly deal with the building of our infrastructure which in of itself do not create national wealth per se but it does help or facilitate the creation of wealth and prosperity for the people.
Pakistani businessman, investors should be called upon to not only risk their capital but apply their skills and sweat to establish business start-ups in various domains of the private sector and spinoffs to the Corridor projects.
Such corroborative actions by our businessmen will take full advantage of the various commercial opportunities opened up by the China’s investment, spawning job opportunities and the ensuing prosperity for the masses.
For in the final analysis it’s not the quantum of foreign aid but what we as recipients do with that aid that matters. And what we actually do would be instrumental in realising the breakthrough economic boom that we so ardently seek.
Unless and until we diligently and effectively employ the above measures, a thousand flowers will not bloom, rivers of milk and honey will not flow in the Economic Corridor region.
Without these proactive steps, the dream of a prosperous Pakistan would just remain just that, an elusive dream receding further and further away from the contours of the national horizon.
A great article on CPEC…A must read for the govt and people of all shades….Thanks Kamal Sb
What an expression of opinion, linguistically and substantively. Great indeed this excellent, meritorious analysis. We just hope that our government, our atmy, our bureaucrats, our businessman, our professionals, our decision makers and our people are listening. Hope the Chinese are also listening and learning from this objective and learned article. Well done Sir
Very well written article indeed and completely correct. NS y Mr Kamal Govt must adhere to this advice . inese aid. All steps above are mandatory. Everyone should follow this. Thanks
Superb analysis….Govt take heed please
Agree with these extremely valuable suggestions. Thats our only hope for any success of the Pak China Corridor. Otherwise as the learned author says it would be a big failure for Pakistan.
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