Fresh stimulus for Gwadar Port
Editor's note: The writer is Director of Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Pakistan. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
The joint statement of the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan shed light on the Gwadar port of Pakistan, the crown jewel of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Both sides acknowledged that the Gwadar port is the central pillar of CPEC and a significant node in regional connectivity during the meeting. This port connects China and Pakistan to the international maritime routes and offers the same luxury to the Central Asian states and Russia through Afghanistan. The possible extension of CPEC to Afghanistan would further capitalize on the role of Gwadar Port in regional connectivity and escalation of business activity.
The Gwadar port is not developing in isolation. Instead, a whole urban setting is underway in the entire district to facilitate the development of local people. The socio-economic development of residents is given priority by providing clean water, academic institutes, and Special Economic Zone and health care centers.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has interacted with private companies which intend to set up a $3.5 billion paper and metal reprocessing plant in Gwadar. Chinese companies further committed to providing technological and financial support to realize projects in specific sectors such as dairy, corn, and soybean in Gwadar, given their export potential.
China and Pakistan agreed to put forward a 1+4 layout, a plan to direct the development of Gwadar Port and the surrounding city. Both sides further noticed the impact on the environment in the region and agreed to build a low carbon circular industrial zone to reduce the carbon footprint for green development. This critical action would create enabling effects for the local population living around the industrial zones and the hustle of large seaports.
Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed his commitment to the security of CPEC, including Gwadar port and Chinese workers. The joint statement expressed sheer determination to safeguard CPEC and fight negative propaganda as China acknowledged the efforts of Pakistan and sacrifices against terrorism, a significant threat to CPEC in Baluchistan.
China is cognizant that Pakistan has committed the resources for the security of Gwadar, including a Special Maritime Force deployed in the Indian Ocean. Gwadar Port is solely a win-win enterprise and a pivot of regional connectivity where China and Pakistan invite third parties to invest in the region and materialize the dream of economic interdependence in South Asia.
The comprehensive joint statement of the meeting reflects the strategic significance of bilateral relationships given the polarization of global politics. Gwadar port is already seen as a competitive seaport making Pakistan at par at the regional level. The communication on Gwadar port naturally pushes Pakistan close to China, driven by its socio-economic and strategic potential.
Despite challenges at the global level, China and Pakistan are committed to pursuing influential agenda of developing the Gwadar port. With the initial operationalization of CPEC, both sides noted the record increase in bilateral trade volume and agreed to boost the trade in the next financial year.
It is worth mentioning here that Gwadar port will not only see its eternal success through bilateral trade, but China and Pakistan are committed to enabling the port as an international stopover for international trade connecting Asia, Europe, and the Americas. In this regard, the sides discuss extending CPEC to Afghanistan to link Central Asia to the Gwadar port. It would increase the global profile of the port through growing transit by connecting distant regions to the international maritime routes.
CPEC is helping eradicate poverty and boost Pakistan's profile in the development index. To the benefit of Pakistan, the development of Gwadar is helping in creating employment opportunities and safe working conditions for the Pakistani workforce employed in multiple development projects.
Muhammad Asif Noor, the writer is Founder Director- Center for BRI and China Studies and Founder Friends of BRI Forum- Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies.