CPEC: China & Iran strategic partnership | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

CHINA Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has now become hot topic in the South East Asia and Central Asia regions because of its “trans-regional” importance in terms of a real “pushing force” to achieve immense “socio-economic” prosperity, “regional integration”, food and energy cooperation, poverty eradication, green revolution and last but not the least, “connecting hub”.

The CPEC has become a “magnetic force” to promote ties of mutual respect, equal rights of prosperity, community development and positive & productive political consultations in the region and beyond.

The “preachers” of disinformation, disintegration, destruction, disharmony and powers of “disorder” have been projecting the CPEC as a franchise of Chinese so-called regional dominance which is absolutely false.

The forces of “evil” are once again drawing unnecessary comparison between the CPEC and the most recently signed China-Iran Strategic Partnership (CISP) and terming it anti-Pakistan & CPEC.

Thus it started another hot debate in the country and region about its probable socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic spill-over repercussions to Pakistan and the CPEC alike.

Unfortunately, paid agents of imperialistic forces, the so-called pseudo intellectuals, fake economists and so-called esteemed regional experts have written articles against the just signed CISP and, therefore, deliberately label the CPEC conflicting and contradicting. It is absolutely untrue and baseless in all respects.

On the other hand, Pakistan will gain unlimited benefits from the CISP worth USD 400 billion.

According to it, China will invest billions in different Iranian sectors, including gas and oil, while Iran is due to ensure regular energy supplies to Beijing for the next 25 years at a discounted rate.

It seems that the CISP will mark a geopolitical shift in the Middle East and Asia and will benefit Pakistan and, of course, the CPEC.

It is indeed a lifeline that would ensure the West Asian country’s long-term stability against the ongoing US socio-economic sanctions and increased US-led regional military presence and pressure.

It predicts that the CISP will facilitate Pakistan’s interests in terms of regional stability, peace and harmony but also to further increase its regional connectivity with all interested countries via the CPEC in the days to come.

CPEC is the flagship project of the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) thus it is only natural that this mega project may expand west-ward into Iran as a result of the recently signed CISP.

The CISP would further enhance the chances of greater regional integration vision i.e. CPEC’s western expansion (W-CPEC+).

It may open a window of opportunity for bringing together the Eastern Pakistan and the Western (Azerbaijan, Turkey) in the days to come. It hopes that Pakistan would gain the most from the CISP.

It is in Pakistan’s own interests to see it positive and productive which would further enhance its regional connectivity with all interested countries through its paradigm shift from geopolitics to geo-economy or economic diplomacy.

It seems that the CISP will continue to be dominated by the energy sector; their inevitable diversification into other domains will lead to more bilateral trade being conducted across CPEC.

Pakistani entrepreneurs can now easily take advantage of the CISP to enhance their own trade ties with both countries.

It hopes that W-CPEC+ would be the best opportunity for bringing all the interested regional countries closer to establish a border regional integration network.

It may also accelerate the formation of a new economic bloc comprising Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Azerbaijan (TIPA).

The Chinese-facilitated rise of TIPA via W-CPEC+ could profoundly impact trans-regional geopolitics/economics by creating a belt of powerful and economically stable states situated at the frontier of West and Central Asia.

The CISP would be a game changer in which CPEC, W-CPEC+, the recently improved trilateral coordination between Azerbaijan-Pakistan-Turkey would also play a decisive role in the days to come.

On its part, Iran has cordial relations with all the TIPA countries which is a good omen for creating the TIPA regional integration network.

Thus the role of Pakistan and, of course, the CPEC would be immense in the near future which would change the socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic orientations of Asia and the Euro-Asia in the future.

Most recently, Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Industries and Production Muhammad Hammad Azhar, stressed the need for the early completion of the CPEC projects.

The Minister highlighted the importance of CPEC and termed it beneficial for the country’s industrial production, upgrading energy and communication infrastructure and improving connectivity with the region.

On his part, speaking on the occasion, the Chinese Ambassador outlined and projected CPEC as of immense importance for the Chinese companies and will expand and strengthen economic cooperation for achieving common objectives and guarantee a prosperous future for both the nations.

The Chairman CPEC Authority Lt Gen (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, assured full support and assistance to the Chinese Ambassador for expediting progress in the communication and transportation sectors on the occasion.

Being a prominent regional expert of CPEC & BRI, I totally negate all assumptions, fake news and ongoing dissemination of propaganda against the CPEC and somehow its declining importance, scope and utility because of the CISP.

Rather it would be mutually beneficial not only for the participatory countries but also all the interested regional countries mainly, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and even Turkmenistan.

BBC termed the CISP as “CPEC-PLUS” which would be beneficial to CPEC. It would definitely enhance stability in Balochistan and increase mutual trade between Pakistan and Iran in the days to come.

Moreover, it would further enhance regional connectivity with Afghanistan and beyond with all the Central Asian countries being part and parcel of the BRI.

In this connection, emerging Pakistan & Iran Economic Corridor (PIEC) would be beneficial for all the Central Asian States (CIS).

Interestingly, commonality of main investor i.e. “CHINA” in the ongoing various projects of the CPEC and the CISP and having blessings of the BRI (US$8 Trillion investments) would be “binding” force among the three countries – China, Pakistan and Iran.

Furthermore, it is estimated that now Iranian oil may reach China easily by passing through the soil of Pakistan (1500 KM) instead of 13000 KM previously.

Thus the ideal combination of the CPEC & CISP would provide geographical “comparative advantage” in the days to come.

It would further flourish bilateral & trilateral trade among China, Pakistan and Iran in the near future.

To conclude, similarities of aims, objectives and strategic orientations between the CPEC & CISP have consolidated CPEC & CISP in a win-win situation and befitting propositions.

Energy generation, supplies and immense infrastructural development in the CPEC & CISP would be common deterrence against all conspiracies.

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