Major political parties on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

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In the run-up to the 2018 elections, all parties unveiled their manifestoes. This time, interestingly, major parties have also mentioned “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” as of one the item of discussion.

When it comes to mainstream national-level parties, all three of them, namely the PML-N, PTI, and PPP, underscore the importance of CPEC for Pakistan’s future. The PML-N has even enlisted the projects it undertook under the corridor project, whereas PPP claimed the credit for launching it in the first project.

Interestingly, PTI’s manifesto has called for including local population in what is being decided about CPEC. Gwadar and Gilgit-Baltistan are in specific mentioned.

Here are some key points of the three parties:

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)

Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI) in its manifesto has underlined that it will ensure the involvement of local population in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the development of Gwadar. In particular, party will offer opportunities to the marginalized population of GilgitBaltistan (GB) and ensure their participation in CPEC.

The party acknowledges that CPEC can boost economic development of Pakistan. But this mega project has not been fully explored due to increased imports for China, meager cooperation with local investors, and lack of “transfer of knowledge and capabilities.”

The party’s manifesto will create “two way linkages” with China. It will utilize domestic resources to take advantage of CPEC and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It will entail collaboration and cooperation to ensure completion of CPEC. To expedite agricultural income, it will invite Chinese expert to add to domestic manufacturing capabilities. It will ensure local entrepreneur’s participation while implementing CPEC.  It will further support local investor’s involvement in global value chains.

Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N)

PML-N claimed the launch of CPEC in 2013 and ensured its commitment towards execution of this mega project. The party believe that CPEC will make Pakistan has become center of regional connectivity.

The party has started CPEC to take full advantage of Pakistan’s geostrategic location. CPEC has brought remarkable Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan. Party’s manifesto says that it will bring Pakistan on the trajectory of fastest developing states with the development of export oriented industries and make Pakistan the 20th largest economic power of the world by 2030. Under CPEC, early harvest projects of worth $30 billion have been initiated as joint venture with China.

The party is keen to enhanced access to domestic and international markets under CPEC. It seeks to pursue implementation of ML-1 to improve the significance of Pakistan railway in CPEC.

In 2013, due to bleak security and energy situation in Pakistan, foreign investors were not confident to invest in Pakistan. A huge amount of investment was required for infrastructure development and improved economy. In this milieu, the launch of “One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR)” has provided great opportunity for economic development of Pakistan. Party’s efforts made it possible for Pakistan to be a part of OBOR via launch of CPEC that further brought a dramatic shift in Pak-China bilateral geostrategic relations.

CPEC has primarily focused on cooperation in Gwadar Port, energy and transport infrastructure projects. With the help of Chinese government, the party has started early harvest projects of worth $30 billion. The party has enlisted various development schemes and initiatives it took from 2013-2018 under the CPEC. These include creation of employment opportunities under CPEC related energy and infrastructure projects, besides other key projects.

Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP)

Pakistan’s People’s Party (PPP) has greatly emphasized on strengthening Pakistan-China bilateral strategic relations while keeping intact its national autonomy and national interests. PPP has claimed the credit of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The party aims to appreciate the inflow of Chinese investment in the form of CPEC, upholding greater transparency and provincial consensus.

The party is interested in promoting regional connectivity under CPEC. It is ambitious to hold dialogues with China and Russia and pursue them to recognize new avenues of convergence that further may support the idea of bringing CPEC activities in line with Russia’s initiative i.e. Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

The party believed that ensuring CPEC security is imperative and implementation of CPEC entail enhanced public capacity, power sector, and tax reforms. Party has promised to comply with all reforms and developments essential for CPEC to promote regional stability.

(This note is prepared by Anam Fatima, Deputy Director, CPEC Watch)