Karachi: The much publicised China – Pakistan Economic Corridor ( CPEC ) is meant to enrich only the rich and the powerful in Pakistan according to high level MQM sources who added that China is aware of this and is using CPEC as a payoff to the Pakistani politicians for permitting a massive Chinese footprint inside Pakistan.
According to Muttahida Qami Movement (MQM) sources, the handing over of the Gwadar Port to China for development in the early part of 2013, has led to other trade corridors being developed, and in turn, is allowing Pakistan’s powerful politicians to plunder the economy in a willful and rapacious manner.
The MQM sources, who were speaking on condition of anonymity, have further revealed that the Chinese are aware of this uncontrolled exploitation of projects and deals related to the proposed Gwadar-Kashgar Trade Corridor, but they have conveniently turned a blind eye, as they feel an opportunity exists for Beijing to establish a strong hold in Pakistan.
A recent report has shown that a major portion of the capital allocated for power projects, for instance, has nothing to do with the proposed trade corridors in the Gwadar-Kashgar region, and is instead being utilized for projects in the Sharif stronghold of Punjab (province).
According to MQM sources, only a meagre amount of 1153 million dollars has been allocated for a few projects in Gwadar, which are yet to start or take off, and therefore, Pakistan’s Planning Commission needs to be taken to task for not taking steps to operationalise the port first by commencing transhipment to attract a good volume of business and emerge as a viable alternative to the Dubai Port, the ninth busiest port of the world, which attracts 13 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent (shipping container) Units) annually.
A Reuter’s news agency report recently quoted Ashraf Mahmood Wathra, the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, as saying, “CPEC needs to be made more transparent. I don’t know out of the 46 billion dollars, how much is debt, how much is equity and how much is kind.”
This indirect critique of the CPEC from a government-run bank that has repeatedly referred to the CPEC projects as the best hope for reviving economic growth in Pakistan, is startling, and almost categorically exposes the monopolistic shenanigans of the country’s powerful elite.
MQM sources are of the view that at least eight to nine years have already been wasted to operationalise the Gwadar Port because of what they call “ill-conceived planning” of the CPEC by the Planning Commission of Pakistan, and have warned that there is a risk of many more years going to waste if a forum is not created to ensure concrete development-related integration.
They further claim that this wilful economic aggrandizement of the proposed CPEC has the tacit and sinister approval of the Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N leadership.
The sources are categorical in demanding the immediate creation of an authorised council/board/body that will take full responsibility of the CPEC-related deals from the inception stage to the conclusive stage, and insist that the work must be done on a war footing to gain maximum inputs and derive maximal gains.
They say that the main objectives of the council should be as follows:
. Explore the potential of the Gwadar Project/CPEC to make it viable for all stakeholders and create a win-win situation.
. To formulate strategic concepts of business and implement it in a fashion that reaps more advantages and serves the country rather than just being a beneficiary.
. Ensure speedy implementation to attract more business and investment, and guard against existing vulnerabilities
. The council should be in a position to address all ills and grievances
. The council should work with China on viable conceptual policy formulation and implementation phases as this ensure both continuity of the thought process as well as implementation at all levels.
. The working of the Gwadar project/CPEC should not be altered or affected due to a change of government or individual authority
. The council must ensure that funds allocated for the project are utilized properly and do not fall into the hands of vested interests or parochial parties.
. Insofar as the Western Corridor i.e. all trade corridors (China and CARs) are concerned, it must be ensured that they save both time and money, pass through underdeveloped areas and have elements of national integration to attract the next generation to take part in the development process.
The overall contention is that the CPEC should shore up Pakistan’s crumbling infrastructure and reduce its electricity shortages. From China’s perspective, the CPEC provides a free trade zone to the Gwadar Port and the all important access to the Indian Ocean and the Middle East. (ANI)