While launching the report titled as ‘Returning to the Shadows: China, Pakistan and the Fate of CPEC’ on September 24, 2020, Dr. Rabia Akhtar (Director, Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research) dispelled the impression that CPEC has become a failure. The report was released by the German Marshall Fund.
Citing the efforts of the new govt. in making CPEC projects more beneficial for Pakistan, Dr. Akhtar said “both China and Pakistan have recalibrated, reassessed, and reassured that the project becomes a success”. She argued that resetting targets based on ground realities is a better thing to do, rather than wasting resources and efforts on achieving impractical goals.
Calling CPEC a transformation in motion, Dr.Akhtar said that looking at the project through an age-old civil-military lens is not only wrong and outdated, but an approach that fails to fully understand what the project means for Pakistan. “The Government of Pakistan is committed to removing all hindrances in the completion of the project and this factor pushed the govt. to appoint a retired army officer to head the CPEC Authority”, she added.
Responding to the report’s concerns about the strategic implications of the project, she asserted that Pakistan has committed itself to balancing its ties with Washington and Beijing, and will be more than happy if countries other than China invest in Pakistan. She iterated that Washington needs to understand that Islamabad is not wading into a zero-sum game, and should look at the potential that this project offers with regard to economic connectivity.
Dr. Akhtar reminded the audience that the incumbent govt. in Pakistan has not looked to score brownie points and instead prioritized efficacy over speed. “The government has started a process of reforming its economic and business landscape, a step that will greatly help the country take full advantage of this gargantuan project”, she further added.