Belt and Road initiative and Pakistan

By Sajjad Malik
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 15, 2016
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When President Xi Jinping announced the ambitious Belt and Road initiative, several analysts and experts may have thought that it might take years and perhaps decades before the grand idea is put into practice. But evidence shows that it is becoming a reality much faster than imagined. The first cargo vessel laden with Chinese and Pakistani goods embarked on its journey from Pakistan's deep seaport of Gwadar on November 13 to deliver around 250 containers to the Middle East and Africa. About 150 of the containers with Chinese goods were transported overland from Kashgar in Xinjiang autonomous region to Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.

The route used in Pakistan for their transportation is being upgraded and developed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of the Belt and Road initiative.

The CPEC was unveiled when President Xi visited Pakistan in early 2015. It is a 46-billion dollar mega-scheme to build a network of roads, railways, energy projects, trading parks and related infrastructure to link up western China to Gwadar. Several projects are being implemented already.

The operational control of Gwadar port is with China, who is also building a modern airport there and other developmental schemes for facilitation of trade under the CPEC.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accompanied by China's ambassador Sun Weidong and several high ranking officials as well as trade representatives, completed the opening ceremony at the Gwadar port on Sunday to operationalize the trade activities.

Sharif said on the occasion that operationalization of Gwadar port showed Pakistan's commitment to the Belt and Road initiative. "We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the CPEC and all the projects under its umbrella are materialized within the given time," he said.

Ambassador Sun Weidong commented on the occasion, "This is the first time that a trade convoy has successfully passed through the western part of Pakistan from the north to the south…this is the first time that the Gwadar port is exporting containers to overseas destinations…this is also the first time that Pakistan and China have co-organized a trade convoy through Pakistan to Gwadar port."

According to Pakistani officials the Belt and Road project integrates with Pakistan's Vision 2025, which seeks to transform Pakistan into a hub of trade and commerce, harnessing its geo-strategic location into a geo-economic advantage. Pakistan is also trying to expand the CPEC to include countries like Iran so that it helps to integrate South Asia, China and Central Asia for greater economic opportunities.

Belt and Road is termed as a platform for win-win cooperation. It has proved so by the close cooperation between Pakistan and China.

For example, the Chinese trade convoy commenced on October 29, from Kashgar and transported the goods to China's border with Pakistan. The next day the cargo of 150 containers was shifted to Pakistani trucks. They transported the goods to Gwadar port on November 12, where two ships - Al Hussain Zanzibar and Cosco Wellington - were already berthed to receive the cargoes.

The CPEC provides the shortest route for China to export its finished goods to the Middle East, Africa and Europe. It can also import oil and other materials through the route. It also provides a reliable alternative trading avenue for China in addition to existing ones. Full operationalization of CPEC would help China to save a lot of time and resources in its trade with the world.

Pakistan is the real beneficiary of the CPEC, as it brings Chinese investment, expertise and trained manpower to undertake several projects of development. Chinese support is provided at a time when only a few nations would be ready to invest or support economic activities in Pakistan due to the law and order situation.

Thus, we have a classic example of cooperation which enhances connectivity, trade, economic development and material welfare. It is happening fast. This is what the world needs; quick developmental projects that can change the economic outlook and bring visible changes to the lives of the people.

Pakistan is poised to reap the benefits of the Belt and Road initiative in the short span of two years. Other countries can also follow.

Sajjad Malik is a columnist with For more information please visit:

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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