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Highway to economic development

Highway to economic development

When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif signed deals worth $43 billion with Chinese leadership in Beijing this year, it was feared that the fate of agreements will not be different from dozens of earlier agreements which had been signed between the two countries but never reached the implementation stage. However, this time, the Chinese government and the banks, including China Development Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank, pledged to finance $45.6 billion to build energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan over the next six years. At least $33.8 billion will go to the energy sector while $11.8 billion will be spent on infrastructure projects.

According to newspaper reports, the Chinese investment will further enhance economic and political cooperation between the two countries as the companies involved will build and operate China-Pak Economic Corridor and other projects as commercial ventures.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan has already expressed the apprehensions that the deals will throw the country into an ocean of debt, but the government claims that this is the biggest investment opportunity for Pakistan and it will ensure progress and prosperity of the nation.

During his visit to China earlier this month, the prime minister had also signed a $622 million agreement to develop Gwadar Port. The ambitious deep-sea project is being launched to open up an energy and trade corridor in the region spreading from the Persian Gulf across Pakistan and further up to Uyghur region.

Pakistan is facing severe energy crisis for the last many decades and the Chinese investments has the potential not only to overcome power shortage but also start a new era of economic development in the country. The agreements with the Chinese government also cover $15.5 billion coal, wind, solar and hydro energy projects to add 10,400 megawatts to the national grid by 2017 while another 6,120 megawatts, costing $18.2 billion, will be added to the national grid by 2021.

Despite all the positive signs of Chinese investment, the danger of a ‘great game’ is not yet over. It is unfortunate that even some friendly countries are bent upon bulldozing the development of Gwadar Port which they see as a threat to their economy. India also sees Gwadar Port as a threat to its security and the government will have to carefully move forward and should not let any hurdle to come in the way of Pakistan’s development.