Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has a lot of potential in various sectors to earn revenue and attract national / international investment. KP is part of northern route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Various projects are currently in progress/ planned in KP under CPEC umbrella.
The ambitious CPEC project has entered the second phase, under which Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are being built in Pakistan. These SEZs will attract foreign investment and boost country’s economy, thus in turn contributing positively to improve locals’ life standard. The establishing of Rashakai Economic Zone also called Technology City in Nowshera adjacent to motorway will not only create job opportunities but will also help province in technical and industrial advancement. China has also planned to invest in building vocational and training centers as well as research in agriculture and livestock sectors. This investment will impact a larger portion of KP society and help in poverty alleviation.
Another important facet of CPEC is improvement in trade and commerce activities within both countries. This will enable KP locals to export domestic products to China and other international markets thus contribute in shrinking Balance of Payment. With the development of roads and railway network in the said project, transporting goods and local products have become more easier enabling local industries better, smoother and quicker access to local and international markets including Chinese market.
Under the bilateral cultural exchange schemes, the local KP students are benefitting from Chinese experience in various fields. This will be helpful in developing various agricultural and industrial sectors of KP.
Various energy projects under the shadow of CPEC will help energy-starved Pakistan to provide uninterrupted supply to industrial sectors and domestic users. Availability of cheap and uninterrupted power supply will help local industries in boosting their output at a lower cost. This in turn will help local companies to compete more easily in international market.
There is no doubt that CPEC will bring various economic opportunities but there are associated challenges that need to be addressed timely and effectively. On the Eastern front, the intentions of India to sabotage the project has always been iterated by their leaders as it is considered a threat to Chabahar Port. The project is also facing criticism and opposition from United States due to its vested interests. Therefore, various projects under CPEC faces enhanced security challenges specially in KP. The same needs to be addressed in order to foil any aggressive attempt from our adversaries.
Governance issues pertaining to the implementation of projects is also a major challenge. Rising above the personal gains for a larger interest and wellbeing should be the goal of leaders. Interprovincial disharmony has also surfaced few time due to allocation of resources on both routes which should be dealt timely and a consensus-based approach should be adopted to avoid any future complications.
To conclude, CPEC is a huge economic initiative that will not only bring prosperity to Pakistan but to the whole region, only if it is implemented in true letter and spirit. Nationally, there should be focus on the internal matters and affairs but the much-needed focus on the international angle of CPEC should never be ignored.