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HomeBusinessExperts stress need for opening up CPEC | The Express Tribune

Experts stress need for opening up CPEC | The Express Tribune






KARACHI:

Pakistan is required to make a paradigm shift from geopolitics to geo-economics and open up the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for its neighbours to achieve economic wellbeing and strengthen its position in the region and beyond.

Speaking at a two-day conference on “South Asia and Regional Connectivity in the 21st Century”, organised by the Department of International Relations, University of Karachi, Dr Rabia Akhtar, Dean Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lahore, said that in order to address the country’s geopolitical challenges, the national security policy stressed the importance of the geo-economics paradigm.

She said Pakistan’s pursuit of geo-economics objectives would serve as a means of strengthening the economic muscle while also supplementing efforts to address security concerns. “The policy recognises that a secure and prosperous Pakistan can play a more active and positive role in regional and global affairs, augmenting the country’s voice and influence in the process.”

CPEC is vital for Pakistan, therefore hurdles in phase-II must be overcome. “Instead of outlining CPEC as BRI’s litmus test, we should highlight that its infrastructure is open for investment in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and other areas,” she said.

Extending CPEC to Afghanistan would benefit all three countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, she stressed.

Quaid-e-Azam University Associate Professor School of Politics and International Relations Dr Farhan Hanif Siddiqui said Pakistan and India could improve trade and economic ties despite having political differences.

“There are wars, conflicts and animosities around the world but dialogue is held to overcome them. Countries without achieving complete conflict resolutions have moved forward. For instance, the US and China remain rivals historically. At the same time, they remain big trading partners with trade worth $700 billion last year,” he said.

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‘CPEC transformative for socio-economic landscape’

Similarly, China and India exchanged goods and services worth $125 billion last year despite having high tensions over their borders.

Pakistan and India could no longer live without cooperation and collaboration. “India has to speak to Pakistan. Pakistan has to open up for India,” he stressed.

University of Karachi Department of International Relations Chairman Dr Naeem Ahmed said CPEC was the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). “This has increased Pakistan’s prospects of regional connectivity and economic cooperation.” However, major regional stakeholders including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are still locked in old border disputes.

He underlined the need for increased dialogue and trust building between countries in the region as well as greater willingness to prioritise economic development and regional connectivity over traditional security concerns.

BRI covers around 70 countries while targeting 65% of the world’s population and covers 40% of the global GDP, he said. Renowned author and foreign policy expert Ahmed Rashid raised questions “can we have connectivity when you consider all your neighbours as threat and danger? Can you take advantage of connectivity when you do not pursue…trade?”

He replied “what we really need is a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy…and support genuine policy of trade and improved relationship.”

 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2023.

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