CPEC: Game Changer for Pakistan
"Old Habits Die Hard" phrase explains Pakistan behaviour towards its economic policies and decision making. No government in Pakistan since its emergence used economic legitimacy for its rule, rather they relied on alternate sources of legitimatization which were counterproductive to an extent that Pakistan's economic went to ICU several time in its short history. The problem originates from its rent seeking behaviour from regional and global powers which have their geopolitical aspirations in the South Asian region and rely on Pakistan because of its geo strategic position. The position itself have become geostrategic curse for Pakistan as it impinges Pakistan economic development and export oriented economy due to internal and external factors.
Pakistan Economy outlook took a nose dive since nuclear experiments. It is an established fact that Pakistan is now in a lower league of economy as compared to India. There is a chain effect of this condition on Pakistan overall foreign and strategic policies. It is suffice to say that Pakistan have jeopardized its core and vital interests because of the criminal negligence in economic policies. But, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the prospects of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) extension is like 'Miracle of the house of Brandenburg' for Pakistan's economy. The question arise how to use this unique opportunity to fulfil Pakistan's economic ambitions without making it another chapter of Geo Strategic curse?
CPEC and BRI provide a rare opportunity to Pakistan to divert its energies from ‘traditional economic course to ‘development through connectivity’. The Chinese loans, which to some scholars are "debt traps", can be used as catalysts to give oxygen to Pakistan’s economy. The extension of BRI opens new avenues of opportunities on which Pakistan can capitalize to diversify its economic base. From transit state to an industrial hub, Pakistan's economy can take an upward flight if Pakistani leadership implement ‘connectivity vision’ with its true essence.
Secondly, Pakistan needs to end its fluctuating policies vis-a-vis CPEC because of its Habitual rent seeking behaviour from America. The uniform behaviour is needed from all the institutions to fulfil the potential of CPEC. There is a need to develop understanding about potential threats for CPEC from the elements which deem it as a threat to their geopolitical aspirations. Pakistan have a history of failing to develop frameworks and if developed failing to implement them is a habit.
CPEC offers an opportunity to Pakistan to counter centrifugal forces in the society with economic incentives. Development have a chain effect on all the elements of state, peace and prosperity are it’s by product. Pakistan structural issues mostly originating from economic disparity between the different segments of the society can be addressed by connecting people to the global economy. It also offer an opportunity to the government of Pakistan to give economic legitimization to their rules which is long overdue since the inception of Pakistan.
Pakistan rulers relied on the ideological and religious legitimatization for their governments which resulted into creation of centrifugal forces in the states. Pakistani nation desire to become welfare state can only be achieve when leaders seek economic legitimation to their rule. The CPEC provides an opportunity to Pakistan to move its national resources to integrate its economy with global markets to reap the benefits of globalization. The future of Pakistan lies in the adoption of wider security paradigm in which economy is on driving seat.
Pakistan economic condition is deteriorating with every tick of the clock and Covid-19 has further exacerbated the situation. The path to rejuvenate and revitalize lifeless economy need unprecedented economic emergency from all the institutions of the state. There is a dire need of collective effort with a commitment to go beyond their normal self. The notion of Strategic Parity in terms of military must accommodate the objective of economic parity with rival neighbours. The new framework in align with vision of BRI must be adopted to bear the fruits of peace and prosperity through development. The regional balance of power must also be seen through the lens of economic development, Human development index and fulfilment of Sustainable Development goals. In this regard, framework of BRI provides a real opportunity to Pakistan to achieve an economic parity with its neighbour which will help achieving twin goals of State and Human Security.