Muhammad Zahid Rifat
The visit of President Xi Jinping of the Peoples Republic of China was rather short in terms of its two days duration only but it turned out to be quite productive, historical and time-tested friendly relations between the two neighbouring countries were reiterated on every occasion. The distinguished guest from the great neighbouring even went on to describe Pakistan as an iron friend of China. The Chinese President’s visit was very keenly awaited though it was delayed by some months due to internal situation in Pakistan but took place with marked enthusiasm, warmness and reiteration of commitment to stand together in any difficult time as it has been witnessed over the past many decades.
Among other the most important highlight of the Chinese President’s visit was signing of accords and memorandum of understanding (MOUs) regarding 45 billion dollars Chinese investment to boost and develop infrastructure sector through implementation of a number of much-needed mega projects which on completion in due course of time will go a long way in ushering in an era of progress, development and prosperity of Pakistan and its people and further strengthen and cement already many times tested most warm, sincere and enthusiastic friendly neighbourly relations between China and Pakistan. Needless to say no two other countries can boost of such deeper than Arabian Sea and higher than Himalayas friendly relations that those of China and Pakistan.
Broadly speaking the mega projects sector-wise forming important part of China Pakistan Economic Corridor include along with projected investment Energy sector $ 33.79 billion, Road $ 5.90 billion, Rail $ 3.69 billion, Mass transit train in Lahore $ 1.60 billion , Gwadar Port $ 0.66 billion and China-Pakistan fiber optics $ 0.04 billion.
During the visit of the Chinese President, details about huge Chinese investment of $ 62 billion on the construction of new Karakoram Highway or Silk Route also surfaced both in the national and international media which would help China not only in developing infrastructure facilities but also have access to international markets for boosting its trade relations as demanded by its fast developing economy.
The onus for proper, transparent , timely and fair implementation of these mega projects squarely lies on all Federal and Provincial Governments and the people of Pakistan though large number of Chinese engineers, technicians and other s will be coming to Pakistan for implementation and completion of these mega projects. In short, the Chinese Government and the people have thrown the ball in the court of the Federal and Provincial Governments as well as the people of Pakistan and it is now up to them how they shoulder these heavy responsibilities to boost the national economy as well as improve the image for more and more foreign investment in different sectors in the country which badly needs to develop infrastructure facilities.
No doubt, mechanism was being developed on top priority basis for implementation of the mega projects with Chinese investment and no less a person than Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif himself will be supervising and monitoring the progress and pace of implementation ensuring transparency at all levels and satisfaction of the Chinese experts .
But still all from top to bottom will have to move rather very cautiously and remain alert and awake in order to ensure complete satisfaction of the Chinese investors and more importantly to ward off all threats to harm the China Pakistan Economic Corridor mega projects for which countries inimical to the rapid progress, development of Pakistan and prosperity of its people have already become active.
Furthermore, all those directly and indirectly concerned and associated with the mega projects to be implemented with Chinese investment in next five years will have to ensure , in the greater national interests and in furtherance of time-tested all weather China-Pakistan friendship, that no controversy whatsoever arises at any level during implementation of the mega projects. It was merely matter of coincidence that huge Chinese investment was coming to Pakistan when PML(N) led coalition was in power at the federal level and also in the country’s biggest province Punjab. But ultimately if the mega projects were completed then the people of Pakistan would be benefitting from these for years to come. National interests should be kept supreme rather than petty political and other petty interests by all concerned as for as implementation of the mega projects were concerned.
It would also be proper to emphasize that in all fairness priorities should be set right insofar as the launching and implementation of all Chinese assisted mega projects in different sectors were concerned instead of launching all mega projects simultaneously all over and then, God-forbid, failing and faulting here and there for varying reasons. These priorities should be determined by taking all stake holders on board and in close cooperation and coordination with the Chinese Government’s quarters concerned. This would help in avoiding any controversy or difference of opinion or criticism from any stake-holder which would help those forces hostile to further strengthening of Pakistan and China friendship and economic relations in the years to come.
Though details of the Chinese-assisted mega projects were not all that available or made public somehow officially but according to information available from well-informed sources in this regard, as much as $ 37 billion , directly and indirectly, were meant for Energy sector out of $ 45 billion while the amounts meant for more than 35 per cent agreements would be on the basis of international commercial banks with mark up of 4.5 per cent besides LIBOR rate which would raise the mark up in the range of 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent. However, ifs and buts, if any, regarding forthcoming Chinese investment and the implementation and funding of various projects should be address and resolved amicably at the appropriate highest level instead of letting these to be debated and discussed in public quite un-necessarily .
Needless to say, China also has its own business and trade interests in view while investing in Pakistan or any other country around the world as business was business and despite strategic relationship, the country’s business interests have to be kept in mind and ensured. Every country like USA and others lending money to other countries keeps this important vital factor in view while doling out funds to Pakistan or any other country.
In all fairness, Chinese investment and assistance in infrastructure and other sectors in Pakistan was most welcome and assuring as compared to the assistance provided by Pakistan’s old ally USA .While China was providing huge assistance of $ 45 billion with almost one stroke in next five years, according to facts and figures available, US civilian aid programme in Pakistan since 2009 was not more than $ 4 billion for energy, border area rehabilitation, education, health and other sectors.
Even if $ 10 to $ 20 billion of Chinese assistance materializes in next couple of years, it will still be much more than what USA has been doling out to Pakistan and dictating its harshest possible terms in the process also.
Just set the priorities right by taking all stake holders on board, remain alert and awake and ensure transparent, timely, fair and honest implementation of all the mega projects in due course of time to gain maximum possible benefits from the Chinese investment. The rulers, the federal and provincial governments as well as the people of Pakistan should please remember that the huge Chinese investment was a golden opportunity , in fact God-gifted opportunity, which should not be missed at all and availed by overcoming all impending obstacles, criticism and hostile propaganda.
Sep 28, 2016 0
Special coverage on China's Two Party Sessions by The Daily Mail - People's Daily