Pakistan’s all weather friend further strengthened the bond of friendship in the shape of CPEC, announced in 2015. This project is the important leg of China OBOR (One Belt One Road) initiative to revive the ancient silk route to further the Chinese interests in the region and beyond. CPEC is warmly welcomed by the people of Pakistan, but it is the area-wise biggest province of Balochistan which will take the larger benefit. Despite having enormous natural wealth, this province has been long neglected, but now it is in the headlines because of the significance of Gwadar Port.
As mentioned earlier, Balochistan has been neglected unfortunately since the inception of Pakistan in 1947. This long neglect over the years has proved to be detrimental for the security of Pakistan because Pakistan’s immediate neighbors capitalized the grievances of the people of Balochistan to destabilize Pakistan. Because of this, it (Balochistan) can play a crucial role in the success of CPEC as many anti-state elements are still working to dismantle all the benefits which CPEC will bring in the future. Despite all these attempts, CPEC is taking large strides towards success which will consequently bring development to Balochistan.
Gwadar port along with energy, transportation, industry, and infrastructural cooperation makes a great combo of 1 + 4. To materialize the benefits of CPEC, it is important to develop the areas adjoining Gwadar too. This is why a large chunk of CPEC projects is related to Balochistan. In all, Balochistan secures 16 projects against the tally of total 22 projects of CPEC as reported by Chinese officials. USB 2 bln energy project at Hub is one of them. Besides energy and infrastructure projects, some educational ventures are also included in CPEC. One of such projects is Faqeer Primary School.
Khusro Bakhtiar, Federal Minister for Planning and Development in Pakistan, emphasized the importance of the Western route of CPEC by highlighting various projects which are under-development along the route. Construction of a state of the art health facility, an international airport and technical institute in Gwadar are in pipeline.
But there are a few problems, the mistrust among Baloch people because of continuous betrayal is the topmost. Most of the people in Balochistan are viewing CPEC with skepticism. It is high time that the doubts in the minds of people be removed by delivering to eradicate the poverty and educating the masses via CPEC. Another major issue is the scarcity of drinking water in Gwadar. Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal assured that this issue will be resolved once the water projects, under the umbrella of CPEC, are completed.
Despite the aforementioned challenges, CPEC is the bedrock to lift Pakistan’s crippling economy. Once fully materialized, it will lessen many of the economic woes of Pakistan. Subsequently, it will make Pakistan a central economic player in the region. The Government of Pakistan ought to harness the full potential of CPEC by making the people of Balochistan inclusive in making decisions regarding the future of the province.