Xiís mega visit
S M Hali
The panacea of all Pakistan's ills is the development of its infrastructure in communication, trade, commerce, health, education and energy
much-awaited visit to Pakistan came at a significant moment in the history of both nations. Sino-Pak relations are multidimensional and have stood the test of time but, in the global as well as regional perspectives, the currents of change necessitated a personal visit to Pakistan by the Chinese leadership to exchange views and examine options. ?The raging conflicts in the Arab world, the drawdown of Occidental forces from Afghanistan amidst President Ashraf Ghaniís overtures of support to both China and Pakistan and the menace of terrorism, which plagues all three neighbours makes it obligatory for the Sino-Pakistan leadership to seek joint solutions. Many Pakistanis would perceive President Xi Jinpingís visit only through the prism of Chinaís proposed development projects in Pakistan, significant among them being the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of the broader Ďone belt, one roadí vision of President Xi. This project was provided impetus by the presidential visit but it would have progressed anyway owing to fast tracking through the joint strategic teams designated to execute the venture smoothly and expeditiously, notwithstanding the myopic views of some political detractors. Yet other politicians with their dogmatic visualisation will only ask what dollar value the Chinese investment will bring to Pakistan.
It is time we shed our blinkered vision of quantifying relationships in the balance of fiscal gains. Sino-Pakistan ties have already evolved from the political to strategic level and Xiís mega visit has put a stamp of authority on transforming it into an all-weather strategic, cooperative partnership. Besides economic development projects, this elevation of ties encompasses dimensions of military and defence technology cooperation, which are vital for safeguarding Pakistanís national security in a challenging milieu. Both President Xi and his Pakistani counterpart have reiterated that the strategic Sino-Pak partnership is not directed against any other country but is aimed at the preservation of peace, stability and security in a strife-torn region, enshrouded in an environment where various protagonists are realigning alliances to serving their own agendas.
If one were to impassionedly evaluate the core value of Xiís mega visit to Pakistan, then sifting through the emotional impact one would conclude that it was to boost the economic aspect of the bilateral relationship to arrive at par with political and strategic characteristics. ?President Xi made it abundantly clear that there is unity of thought not just in the governments of both states but also among the people seeking a common destiny. While President Xi has highlighted the broad parameters of the ďChinese dreamĒ, it has been reaffirmed that the Pakistani dream coincides with the same. The development of the strategic port of Gwadar, the CPEC and the maritime silk routes are but milestones on the road to the visualisation of the common dreams and aspirations of the two nations.
Pakistan is passing through one of the most turbulent moments of its history. The scourge of terrorism, economic crunch, acute energy shortage, lack of employment opportunities and lawlessness have all driven the country deeper into the morass of hopelessness. The panacea of all Pakistanís ills is the development of its infrastructure in communication, trade, commerce, health, education and energy, not in the same order of priority. It is to Pakistanís benefit that an iron brother like China is at hand not to dole out alms and aid in our begging bowl but, being cognisant of Pakistanís sovereignty, helping it to stand on its own feet. The generation of energy through hydro, coal, solar, wind and nuclear sources will make Pakistan self-sufficient in this vital sector. Education, health and communication infrastructure development will guarantee a better future for coming generations of Pakistani students, entrepreneurs and traders. The advent of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) hold great promise for developing nations like Pakistan, which need to emerge from the clutches of stringent conditions imposed by the IMF and World Bank, and benefit from the user friendly statutes of the AIIB.?We need to stop parroting the $ 46 billion value of Chinese projects likely to be injected into Pakistan during the early harvest and beyond, and instead seriously endeavour to efficiently execute the various projects for their timely completion and optimum utilisation of our resources.
One of the irritants that may hamper the Sino-Pak relationship is the potential of controversies regarding some projects. Whereas the relationship stands on the bedrock of trust and faith, let us not take it for granted and sully the waters through unnecessary criticism and nitpicking regarding the wherewithal of these development projects. While we look at the broader picture, the Pakistani government must also be more transparent in the implementation of these ventures.?Xiís visit to Pakistan has lifted the morale and spirits of the Pakistanis immersed in despondency. Let us endeavour to achieve our cherished dreams jointly.