By Zumra Nawaz Cheema
At the end of cold war, with the emergence of multi-polar system at international arena, process of globalization got impetus. Resultantly, interdependence among states increased and now states have begun to develop their diplomatic relations with each other on the basis of their geostrategic and geopolitical interests. Likewise, Pakistan and China, who are considered as two “all weathered” strategic and diplomatic partners in South Asia, decided to enlarge their relationship in broader spectrum. In the past, generally they did cooperate with each other in political and military affairs but over the time, they felt the need to develop economic ties with each other to gain compatibility in the changing dynamics of the international milieu. Therefore, they started cooperating with each other in commerce and trade. The bilateral cooperation in almost every field of life strengthened the relations to get deeper with the passage of time and both countries celebrated year 2011 as “Pak-China friendship year”.
Recently, Pakistan and China signed a mega project called as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as an endorsement and continuation to the enhancing bilateral friendly ties between the two countries. The CPEC project is being viewed as very beneficial not only for the states involved but also for the region as well. Regional connectivity and economic development are two major aspects of the project. Furthermore, the land-locked Central Asian countries and Afghanistan will get short and easy access towards the warm-watered Indian maritime under the implementation of CPEC .The project will prove helpful to tackle the menace of terrorism from the region as well, which is a major risk for the security and stability of the region. Moreover, through the economic uplift of Pakistan under CPEC, there are chances for the betterment of India-Pakistan relations. Likewise, there is probability of stability in Afghanistan, because China would easily access and invest in Afghanistan through the stability and improved infrastructure of Pakistan. Therefore, Pakistan’s President Nawaz Sharif called CPEC as a “Game-Changer” and “Corridor to Peace” for the region.
The project has tremendous importance for a weaker country like Pakistan. Pakistan and China signed 51 agreements worth of $46 billion under CPEC, The four main areas of collaboration between the two countries are; infrastructure, transportation, energy, and industrial cooperation. The route of the CPEC has not yet been confirmed, and all that is certain for the moment is its reach from Kashgar to Gwadar.
The CPEC also has immense importance for China. China considers CPEC as “flagship project” because through this project China will get easy and short routed reach towards the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Additionally, China’s market will further boost up, and it will become economically stronger.
China can also counter the US dominance in the region through the accomplishment of CPEC. China can play a significant role in the Asian region in terms of economic uplift and regional stability being emerging as an economic giant and future super power. China will also get the chance to develop its North-western province Xinjiang, which is an under developed area. In Xinjiang separatist movement has started by Uyghur’s Muslims. Thus, China wants to develop the socio-economic framework of that region. Only in this way, China can curtail aggressive sentiments against its central government.
China sees US “pivot to Asia” strategy against its fundamental interests. China has view that US wants to hamper its progress and development by improving cooperation and making alliance with rising powers (India, Singapore, Malaysia, North Korea and other East-Asian countries) so that it can keep its supremacy and hegemony in the South-Pacific region. Another Chinese concern over CPEC is to find an alternative to Strait of Malacca. The South-China Sea, which is a rich source of resources and a way towards Strait of Malacca is being disputed among China and other Southeast Asian countries. China imports largest part of its oil supply through the Strait of Malacca, so it has some reservations that, if other East Asian countries make alliance against China, then they can impose naval blockade on narrow Strait of Malacca and can choke China economically.
Along keeping in view the importance of CPEC, both the countries should keep various challenges and constraints under consideration. Administrative issues, political instability, militancy problems and resentment in the domestic labor force in Pakistan are some of the major challenges, which could impede the proper execution of CPEC. All of these issues need to be address for smooth implementation of the project. In the past, Pakistan and China have achieved various difficult plans, which were appeared unattainable due to the involved challenges and risks. The Karakorum Highway is an exemplary to the fact. Currently, there is a need to have better understanding between both participant countries to achieve expected results. Both countries would have to join hands to assure security situation at the workplace of the project. Moreover, there is a need to achieve proper public support, therefore, both countries should make clear to their people that the project has huge importance for both countries. This will further catalyze the speedy and timely completion of the CPEC.
Tags: AfghanistanCentral AsiaChinaChina-Pakistan Economic CorridorIndiaIndia-Pakistan relationsPakistanPakistan-China relations
Geo strategic means the importance of a country or a region as by virtue of its geographical location. Geo political is defined as, stressing the influence of geographic factors on the state power, international conduct and advantages it derives from its location. Stephen Cohn describes this importance “While history has been unkind to Pakistan, its geography has been its greatest benefit. It has resource rich area in the north-west, people rich in the north-east.” Pakistan is a route for transportation, and a front line state against terrorism.
Importance of Pakistan Location
Location of Pakistan
Pakistan is located between 23 degrees.30 North to 37 degrees North Latitude and 61 degrees East to 77 degrees East Longitude. China lies in the north of Pakistan while Afghanistan and Iran are in the West of it. India lies in the East and in the South is Arabian Sea.
The Importance of Location
The location of Pakistan is not only unique in the world but of special importance in South Asia. Pakistan links the east with the west. Some important neighbouring countries of Pakistan are as under.
There is 600 km long territory of Pakistan along the border of China. Both countries have political, cultural and trade relations with each other. There is a close cooperation between the two countries in heavy machine industry and many other departments. Silk, cloth, machines etc. are imported from China.
India is a Hindu country in the East of Pakistan. There is a common border of 1600 kilometre in between these countries. Both countries are trying to solve their problems including Kashmir. Due to this enmity, wars of 1948, 1965 and 1971 have been fought between the two countries. In the last war, our one wing East Pakistan got separated from us due to this enmity. India is always busy in conspiracy by the cooperation of a super power despite of knowing that it is better for the welfare of both countries to develop pleasant terms .Fifteen crore Muslims live in India. Their protection is also a big problem.
Central Asian Islamic Countries
Pakistan has religious, cultural and economic relation with the Central Asian Islamic Countries. Pakistan is the only country that provides them the nearest sea route and transport facilities. These countries lie in the North West of the Pakistan.
Afghanistan is situated to the West of Pakistan. When the English got the control of sub-continent, according to a pact with Afghanistan in 1893, the permanent border between the two countries was marked which is called Durand Line. This line is about 2240 kilometers long with the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Both countries have old religious, cultural and trade terms.
To the West of Pakistan is the border of Iran along province of Balochistan. It is our Islamic brother country. Iran was the first country which recognized the existence of Pakistan in 1947. Iran has made political and trade pacts known as R.C.D. Its name is E.C.O which means Discipline for Economic Cooperation. Iran openly helped Pakistan during the wars of 1965 and 1971. Pakistan proves its friendship with Iran in every hour of need. Islamic revolution has come in Iran by the end of kingship. It has also better relations with Pakistan.
Trade through Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea is in Indian Ocean. Most of the trade between east and west is done through Indian Ocean. Pakistan through Arabian Sea is linked with the Muslims Countries of Persian Gulf. All of them are rich in oil. In Karachi Bin Qasim and Gwader are important seaports of Pakistan. In this respect South-East Asian Muslim countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Burunai, Darussalam) and South Asian Muslim countries (Bangladesh, Maldives and SriLanka) are important.
Strategic Importance of Pakistan
Proximity of great powers:
Pakistan is located at the junction of great powers. In its neighbor’s one world power Russia and the other emerging power china lies. Any alliance among world powers enhances its significance. This factor has been utilized by Pakistan after 9/11. Security and business are two main US interests in the region while Pakistan is playing a front line role in the war against terrorism. Apart from this US interest in the region to contain the growing china, nuclear Iran, terrorist Afghanistan and to benefit from the market of India.
Today the political scenario of the region is tinged with preemption policy and US invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Iran’s nuclear program, India’s geopolitical muscles (new strategic deal with US) to gain hegemony and to counter the rise of China. Which has earned all the qualities to change unipolar world into bipolar world. In all these issues, Pakistan is directly or indirectly involved especially after al-Qaeda operations. The American think tank has repeatedly accepted that war against terrorism could never be won without the help of Pakistan.
Gateway to Central Asia-(oil and energy game):
Central Asia is the center stage of new Great games. Western quest for resources- oil and energy resources in the central Asia. After USSR decline, new quest started which is as manifested by politics of oil. Pakistan is located very close to the oil rich Middle Eastern countries. The belt started from Iran and extended to Saudi Arabia. Thus, Pakistan can influence shipment of oil. Iran is struggling to export its surplus gas and oil to eastern countries, Qatar, Pakistan and Turkmenistan pipeline projects highlight the position. In the energy scarce world, Pakistan is located in the hub of energy rich countries i-e Iran and Afghanistan: both are energy abundant while India and china are lacking.
China finds way to Indian Ocean and Arabian sea through Karakoram highway, Significance as a Transit economy:
Pakistan has the potential to develop transit economy on account is its strategic location, land locked Afghanistan now at the phase of reconstruction finds its ways through Pakistan. China with its fastest economy growth rate of 9% us developing southern provinces because its own part is 4500 km away from Sinkiang but Gwader is 2500 km away. Moreover, Pakistan offers central Asian regions the shortest route of 2600 km as compared to Iran 4500 km or turkey 5000 km. gwader port with its deep waters attracts the trade ships of china, CAR and south east Asian countries., also the coastal belt of Balochistan can provide outlet to china’s western provinces to have access to middles eastern markets with the development of coastal highways and motorways.
Important link in the chain of Muslim countries:
If we look at the map of Muslim countries, Pakistan occupies a central location. Towards west of Iran, china extends to North Africa. Thus it can actively participate in the activities of Muslim world-economic development, transport of resources and above all combat terrorism. Only Muslim country with nuclear capability:
In the region Pakistan is the only Muslim country having nuclear capability which has great influence on the political, socio-economic activities in the region and the maintenance of status quo in the region.
China’s link to the Middle East:
Pakistan is the only direct and shortest link between China and the Middle East. Imagine the impact of China on the Middle East, if this link is fully functional. Gwadar Port located in proximity of Arabian Gulf and Central Asian Republics provide it unique opportunity to serve both. Pakistan needs to capitalize on them through better diplomatic ties with Arab states and CARs. It is therefore anticipated that oil reserves and other resources of CARs would gradually become the focus of world attention in coming years.
However, in case of “exports to and from CARs” a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is must. The port will also help in promoting trade with Gulf States possessing 63% of world’s oil reserves and will prove instrumental in promoting trans-shipment essentially of containerized cargo besides unlocking the development potential for hinterland. The most important factor that makes Gawadar Port strategically unique is the location with respect to other major ports in the region, which are all located on the other side of the sea. Gwadar port being towards north can easily provide services and facilities to CARs, Afghanistan and China.
Reduce Indian hegemony in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean:
India has a shared interests with the U.S. and NATO in the subjection of Pakistan. Pakistan would cease to be a client state of the U.S. or a manageable state, because of a likely revolution that would occur in the scenario of a broader war in the Middle East against Iran or a far larger Eurasian war involving China and Russia. Nuclear weapons in the hands of such a revolutionary government in Islamabad would be a threat to Indian national security, NATO operations in Afghanistan, and Israel. It is in the shared interests of the U.S., NATO, Israel, and India to neutralize such a strategic and tactical threat from emerging in Pakistan.
This is why NATO has underpinned the objective of balkanizing Pakistan and why the U.S. has talked about taking over Pakistani nuclear facilities via the U.S. military. The subjection of Pakistan is also territorially and militarily to the advantage of New Delhi, because it would eliminate a rival and allow India to gain territory that in the view of many Indians was lost with the partition of India in 1947.
Economic Significance of Gwadar Port
Gwadar Port is Pakistan’s largest infrastructural project since independence. Gwadar Deep Seaport is located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, close to the important Straits of Hormuz, through which more than 13 million barrels of oil passes daily. Ever since the construction of Gwadar deep seaport has been undertaken, it is an opportunity for the people of Balochistan to improve the living conditions in their province. Neighbouring countries are very much interested in investing in Gwadar especially China and has already spent $248 million in its construction. The geographical and strategic location makes the Gwadar Deep Seaport at a much advantageous position than other competing ports, like Rashid and Jebel Ali ports of Dubai, Salalah Port of Oman, Bandar Abbas and Chahbahar ports of Iran. 95% trade takes place through sea in Pakistan. Karachi port is handling 68% whereas Port Qasim takes care of 32% of the sea borne trade.
The projected rise in total trade by the year 2015 is 91 million tons. This will increase shipping activity phenomenally at the existing port. Gwadar will help Pakistan to monitor the Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs) originating from the Persian Gulf and bottle neck at Strait of Hormuz. Both military and economic power now depends upon oil. It is expected that Gwadar city in future would turn into an international hub of industrial and commercial activity, which would not only play a key role in the economic development of Balochistan, but also the entire country. To facilitate rapid commercial and economic development, Gwadar will be declared a special economic zone for a certain period.
The length of this period has not yet been determined. The SEZ is likely to cover the city of Gwadar and the industrial areas currently planned and foreseen. The specific incentives-regime is likely to include general tax-holidays, no VAT and generous incentives pertaining to business ownership and employment of foreigners. The main purpose of this concept is to accelerate economic development and investments, both foreign and local, in general. This in turn will spur industrial development and port traffic throughput demand. It would also contribute more rapidly to employment creation and uplifting of the Gwadar district and of Balochistan.
Trade Significance of Pakistan with Land Locked Countries
Pakistann is located in the heart of three vital regions: South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia and thus provides the shortest access to the sea for all landlocked countries of Central Asia besides Western China. It is a fast emerging junction for multiple corridors of cooperation between Afghan, China and CAR involving energy, trade and transportation. Communication and trade correlation between South, Central and West Asia passing through Pakistan has transformed our country into an economic center, giving a boost to inter-regional economic activity. Geographically bordered by Iran on the west, Afghanistan on the northwest, China on the northeast, and Arabian Sea lying in the south has promoted the multi-lateral trade with neighboring countries effectively from the last decades.
Pakistan is blessed with three major seaports, i.e., Karachi port, Qasim Port and Gwadar port, along with Arabian Sea, which are the main passageway for the transportation via sea to Pakistan also it borders with Afghanistan and China. Geographically lack of a common border with any Central Asian state is one of the primary impediments to accessing the region. Tajikistan, which has borders with Afghanistan and China, is the most strategically located country from Pakistan’s standpoint. Wakhan Corridor, an area in far northeastern Afghanistan that connects Afghanistan and China, could be the most convenient land link between Pakistan and Tajikistan.
Influence of U.S.A Invasion in Afghanistan on Trade of Pakistan The conflict and instability in Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks and their regional implications had very negative repercussions for the years following the US invasion of Afghanistan not only saw a huge influx of Afghan refugees across the border into Pakistan but also witnessed a sudden spike in the frequency and scale of terrorist attacks in Pakistan. The cumulative impact of these developments adversely impacted the overall growth rate in all major sectors of the economy.
Pakistan continues to pay a heavy price both in the economic and security terms due to this situation and a substantial portion of precious national resources both men and material, have been diverted to address the emerging security challenges for the last several years. This situation disrupted Pakistan’s trading activities which not only resulted in higher costs of business but also created disruptions in the production cycles, resulting in significant delays in meeting the export orders around the globe. As a result, Pakistani products have gradually lost their market share to their competitors. Consequently, economic growth slowed down, demand for imports reduced with declined tax collection and inflows of foreign investment.
From a general strategic point of view, Pakistan location is very important. Pakistan is a junction of south Asia, west Asia and central Asia; a way from resource efficient countries to resource deficient countries. The world is facing energy crises and terrorism. Pakistan is a route for transportation and a front line state against terrorism. Moreover Pakistan has been traditionally ally of emerging economic giant; china. So in the vague of any change in world politics, Pakistans geo-strategic significance would further be enhanced.
Pakistan geography has been its greates benefit. It has resource rich areas, and today Pakistanis are a spirited, modern and forward looking nation and it is undoubtedly no overstatement that educated and passionate and zealous people possesses the most lush mind in the world. What is needed is to just channelize energies of people and provide them opportunities to outshine themselves and proper use of resources thereby bringing a incredible change to the fortune of Pakistan.
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