‘NEW GEOPOLITICS AND THE REGION’
China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) Director Hu Shisheng has said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is very important for China and it would never like it to fail as some countries may wish so.
Hu Shisheng was speaking at a joint roundtable briefing here on ‘New geopolitics and the region’ organised by CICIR and Centre for Research and Security Studies.
Hu said that CPEC was not only a mega project but the pilot-project of China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) initiative. Given the massive nature of the project, Pakistan and China should expect that challenges will also be enormous, he said adding that one basic goal of China is to help its all-weather friend Pakistan stand economically on its own footing. The pre-CPEC relations between the two countries had been military and political in nature, Shisheng observed, as China was suffering economic overcapacity. He said it was compelled to export part of industrial capacities to countries like Pakistan. Industrial zones under CPEC are supposed to play crucial role in the respect.
He stressed that as the guiding principle of China’s OBOR initiative was inclusiveness, CPEC can be connected to Iran’s Chabahar port. This policy of China stands in contrast to the India’s approach of excluding and isolating Pakistan from regional initiatives and platforms, he said.
About the Trump’s policy towards the region, Shisheng said that the new US president will scale back American engagement in Afghanistan and consequently the responsibility to deal with Afghan issue will fall on the regional countries like China, Pakistan etc.
Former ambassador Mian Sanaullah said that Donald Trump had neither talked much about the Pak-Afghan region nor met any of their top leaders so far. He pointed out that three views prevail regarding Trump’s South Asia policy. First, he might follow Obama type equation wherein he will adopt case-to-case approach. The second view says that he is more of a businessman and wherever he finds opportunity for his country’s interests, he can strike a deal. The third view assumes that he might not be that good for Pakistan. The reason is his obsession with China that might bring the US closer to India so that China can be balanced and countered.
Engineer Arshad Abbasi said that the issue of disproportionately expensive financial conditions is connected to the CPEC projects. He said that if we compared the terms and conditions of CPEC projects with more or less the same development projects that China had signed with Myanmar and other countries, the costs were very high in the case of former. Therefore, he suggested that Pakistan and China should revise the pricing mechanism for all the projects of CPEC so that it is win-win situation for the both parties.
Ex-Ambassador Qazi Hamayun said that the Kabul government and the US were pressurising Pakistan to help break the prevailing stalemate between the Taliban and Kabul in favour of the latter. But, he said, it was not possible as Pakistan knew the government in Kabul was predominantly controlled by the Tajiks to the disadvantage of Pakhtuns who were the major ethnic group of the country (around 40%). To find a lasting solution to Afghan problem would, therefore, he said, required proper representation of other ethnic groups in any settlement deal.
Former federal finance secretary Waqar Masood said that Trump will increase the military spending and employ tax cuts which at the end of the day will lead to a huge financial deficit.