The Illusion of CPEC Participation

The Illusion of CPEC Participation

Mehbooba Mufti, at a seminar, stated that “Jammu and Kashmir could become a corridor of economic activity in the region and the country could take huge benefits of the economic activities going on across the Line of Control(LoC). She then posed the question, “why can’t we be partners in economic growth and share the benefits of projects like the CPEC?”. “Let us move beyond skirmishes”, she added. Assuming that Mehbooba’s heart is in the right place and , for a moment , giving her the benefit of doubt, it stands to reason that her assertions and statements regarding CPEC be examined. CPEC- an abbreviated form for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor- is, in essence, a geo- economic enterprise that aims to transform the political economy and economics of Pakistan with China at its heart or epicenter. Geopolitically, if the CPEC does crystallize and become real, then Pakistan would stand to benefit economically and politically, in significant terms. At one fell swoop, Pakistan’s dependence on American aid and hence America’s leverage on the country would dissipate, if not disappear. The consequence would be Chinese primacy in the region with Pakistan as a robust and a strong ally for the country. This would undercut America’s potential or even putative attempts to isolate or even contain China by instrumentalizing India. The focus would, to some extent , also shift from the Indian Ocean Region(IOR) where India seeks primacy along with the United States and Australia. Moreover, an economically strong Pakistan, with China as a staunch ally, and bound to Pakistan within the broad rubric of functionalism, would be able to stand up to India perhaps even in conventional military terms. A strong economy would allow Pakistan to undergo military modernization and attain parity of sorts with India. The name of the game then is balance of power in the region favoring China and Pakistan. The idea of taking advantage complementarities of the respective economies of India and Pakistan is given short shrift by the “fact” that India and Pakistan are no longer “ natural” trading partners. This owes itself to India as an “early” globalizer and Pakistan a “late” globalizer. All this cuts into and gives short shrift to Mehbooba’s assertions about being part of the CPEC among other things. Her statements then are either unreal or fall into the domain of political rhetoric that may or may not cut ice with her audiences. In the final analysis, if Kashmir is indeed to become a corridor of economic activity in the region, then the first and cardinal step would be to resolve the conflict in and over Kashmir. This would constitute a good beginning towards which Mehbooba could and should devote her energies to. But the question is: would she or can she? The answer, given her and her party’s predilections – especially over the past couple of years or so- looks increasingly bleak.

2 Responses to "The Illusion of CPEC Participation"

  1. Numan   March 19, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    For G Din. “nothing makes sense” because his master India is in trouble.

    CPEC is part of the OBOR which is a long term straregic game China is playing which will at the very least have global consequences. Chinese investment in Pakistan under CPEC is a strategic ploy which will impact China’s own future. Comparing it with pacts of the cold war is a big mistake.

  2. G. Din   March 19, 2017 at 1:07 am

    “…an abbreviated form for …”
    The word to use is “acronym”.
    For the rest, nothing makes sense. If Pakistan and China are married to each other, it would be futile to believe that India would just stand there and clap the “jodi”. When Pakistan and US were married under CENTO, Baghdad Pact and SEATO, India routed Pakistan in all the wars Pakistan initiated. China can never replace US, let apart exceed it in making resources available to Pakistan, even if we assume it would want to, which incidentally it doesn’t. China is a loan-shark, nothing more.