Ever since its conception, Pakistan has seen twenty-six governments, four of which and that too the longest ones, being dictatorial regimes. It is rather refreshing when, the executive of Pakistan is known for something besides imposing a martial law.
In 2013, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took oath as Pakistan’s 20th Premiere. PML-N’s fourth term formulating the country’s governmental structure, is primarily known for its work in enhancing bilateral relations with China predominantly through the colossally magnanimous venture i.e. the CPEC.
The initial long term plan, presented to both the publics of China and Pakistan consisted of four categories within which development was to commence namely, Gwadar Port, Power projects, Infrastructural projects and Industrial collaboration. Under the PML-N government, the progress was underway, and the endeavour was continuing at a steady speed.
However, in the May of 2018, with the turn of governments after a staggering annual election, Imran Khan’s PTI held reigns of Pakistan’s governmental system. Of recent, the Khan Administration has completed a 100 days out of its 5 year tenure. So what does that mean for the coveted projects under CPEC? While some clear progress can be seen, a few hurdles have earned mass criticism for the PTI government.
The 100 day manifesto of Prime Minister Khan was fairly an all-encompassing set of strategies. Where it spoke about several different points of concern, one of the many was Pakistan’s foreign policy and the new governments approach towards it. The Premiere made it a point to depict no hostility or reluctance towards the progression and completion of CPEC; primarily wishful of showing that they bore no ill-will towards any initiations made by the preceding government. The prime focus was consistently placed on the anticipated increase in the Foreign Direct Investment as well as in the foreign reserves of Pakistan.
Ever since coming in to power, the PTI government has been vocal about both the progress as well as any impediments regarding the CPEC projects. While, Minister For Planning And Development and the Minister For Broadcasting And Information have held multiple press conferences together for public awareness upon the matter, recently, Chief Minister Punjab, Usman Buzdar has met with the a Chinese ambassador, discussing future plans and prospects for CPEC.
Although, it is obvious that the existing government means no harm to the mammoth venture, neither does it wish to stir any controversies, it has still been made subject to criticism, naturally, by opposing political parties. From the beginning of the endeavour, problems have intermittently risen in Baluchistan creating concerns for the ruling party. Other than that, concerns regarding the designated routes, and the transparency of the projects have been raised which the Khan Administration attempts to address.
On a similar note, there may be no ill-intentions on part of the PTI government, however there is an obvious lack of organisation. In the recent JCC meeting, no substantial progress was made due to ‘missing paperwork’. The JCC, (Joint Cooperation Committee, is the apex decision making body on matter relating to CPEC). Islamabad’s inability to complete the file work on time ultimately translated in to absolute failure in changing the status quo. Currently, the plan remains stagnant on $8.2 billion mainline (ML-1) project of Pakistan Railways, $2 billion Karachi Circular Railways, mass transit schemes of Quetta and Peshawar and five small road projects, according to signed minutes of the 8th JCC meeting.
It is no hidden fact that the Pak-China friendship was advertised, promoted and encouraged like never before under the PML-N leadership. However, with the rather interesting turn of events in the Pakistani Politics, the duty to proceed with dignity, rather than malice lies with Imran Khan’s government. It is absolutely imperative for them to prove that the Chinese friendship lies with the government and not the party personnel.