The Ancient Silk Route
From a melange of trades, an array of ideas, philosophies, and cultures, to The Black Plague; the ancient Silk Route has been traversed by all. During the 2nd century BC, the Silk Roads were the most popular and excessively travelled means for trade, (predominantly silk), transportation, and business in general.
However, with the end of the 14th century the sun set on the industrious paths of the silk roads. The interconnected nations closed their gates to everything, whether tangible or intangible, finding its way in from the Silk Routes, thus silencing the clamour in the trade paths of Asia and Europe.
Revival of the Silk Route
Pakistan’s purchase of Gwadar from the Sultanate of Oman piqued Chinese interest and in 1959 construction of the Karakorum Highway began in an attempt to revive the ancient Silk Route.
Of late the Chinese President, Xi Jingping expressed serious interest in the complete restoration of the silk route. In 2014, while introducing the one belt one road initiative, the Chinese president voiced his plans for the new Silk Road connecting Kashgar to Baluchistan in general and Gwadar in specific.
Spirit Of ‘OBOR’: The Silk Route
The ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative by President Xi Jingping is coined as one of the most ambitious plans to have ever been introduced in the world. The belt in this acronym denotes the Silk Road economic belt and the road is actually the maritime Silk Road.
In the One Belt One Road forum held in 2014, President Jinping voicing his eagerness and highlighting the significance of his enterprise said,
“The Silk Road spirit, embodies the spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.”
The Tale Of Silk Route: As Told By China
The Chinese vision behind the revival of the ancient Silk Route revolves around the concept of globalization. However, the Chinese take upon the matter indicates towards a more inclusive form of globalization which will assist nations to partake in the global economy and facilitate it to the best of their abilities.
The plan is to restructure the ancient Silk Road in to a modern-day trade system aided by bridges, railroads, highways, and naval routes extends across nations.
Similarly, the Karakorum highway linking the Gwadar port to the city of Kashgar in China, holds the potential to open two colossal supply and consumer markets. This will serve towards the development of both Baluchistan as well the province of Xinjiang in China.
“A Bridge Has No Allegiance Towards Either Side”-Les Coleman
Well, China seems to disagree with the late Professor Coleman. According to Xinhua, a Chinese media agency, China contrives to build bridges, both literal and metaphorical. However, it stands firm on the notion of mutual growth and inclusive economic development, asserting that the bridges they build will serve to facilitate either side.
The emerging superpower, claims to offer global connectivity especially to remote, under-developed and developing nations.
Benefits Accrued By Pakistan
- Economic Gains and Employment Opportunities: Naturally, Pakistan is one of the beneficiary countries in the Central Asia-China-Pakistan trade route. Being on the receiving end of the direct foreign investment by China, and through revenues generated by transits leading to substantial economic and infrastructural development Pakistan is set to become the regional trade hub and energy transit corridor while also creating thousands of employment opportunities for local inhabitants.
- Restoration Of Pakistan’s Global Image: In order to facilitate bilateral trade opportunities, a railway link between Gwadar and Kashgar is also proposed by both countries. In light of this connectivity, Pakistan will also become a medium for regional integration between South Asia and Central Asia.
Moreover, Gwadar’s ideal location serves to be a way out for landlocked central Asian countries, like Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan via Afghanistan; thus refining Pakistan’s international position.
The Sceptics’ Soliloquy
- The Hegemony Masquerade: Critics around the globe have brought forward downsides to the Sino-Pak attempt of revival of the Silk Route. Some claim that it is nothing more than Chinese hegemony and Pakistan’s silent acquiescence in disguise. While a few even aver that infrastructural development and commercialization actually come second to china’s political agenda of dominance.
- Revival Of Neo-Colonialism In Lieu Of The Silk Road
China was also accused of bringing back neo-colonialism in the disguise of Silk Route. However, through their “invest not invade” attitude china has been successful in proving its critics wrong.
Both Pakistan and china have taken a lot upon their shoulders in order to practically manifest the vision of the New Silk Road.
President Xi once claimed that,
“Globalization is a big ocean that you cannot escape from”
Hence, with the unparalleled efforts of both governments, it is safe to believe that Silk Route will be a life jacket for both China and Pakistan in the ocean of globalization.