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The world population is growing, putting added pressure on scarce life-supporting resources of the Earth. Individuals and societies look for a better quality of services which implies compatible economic growth. Sustainable economic growth for the better financial health of communities is possible through the judicious employment of factors of production. Means of communication provide a platform for mutual business and trade where all benefit from each other’s expertise. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) wrapped in it fundamentally provides connectivity to facilitate interaction among communities and countries. Resource-scarce states can benefit from it according to their capacities for improving economic growth and social development compatible with international standards. Like every strategic initiative, there are misperceptions, misgivings and apprehensions about BRI as well; however, most pertain to what the other side is going to achieve. In the business world of competition and rivalry, customarily, any achievement by the other side (a competitor) is taken at the cost of oneself, thereby finding a reason to oppose it. Since the start of this initiative, there has been an abundance of write-ups from different stakeholders apprehending what China in BRI and Pakistan in CPEC are going to achieve. If the notion is reversed, so that instead of looking at it for the benefit it provides to the other side, looking at what it provides to you and others on merit, the issue can be resolved.
Despite all the straightforward answers to different questions pertaining to the apprehensions and misgivings, there is definitely a need to put in place some tangible measures. This is particularly so in the case of Pakistan, which is facing a non-responding sizeable portion of its population. The narratives of misgivings are well grounded at the moment in the absence of a tangible response from the state mechanism. The reversal of these narratives is possible with some visibility of CPEC projects materializing and sharing benefits with deprived segments of society. The stakes are not very high, just a matter of providing basic needs for social uplift through jobs on merit. The communication means that are appearing are sufficient to facilitate movement of people for jobs, business and trade. The provision of seed-money to kick-start smaller businesses would go a long way in reducing pressure on the job market. In dealing with the Chinese, the friendship slogan should only be employed for mutual businesses on a level playing field. It should not be expected for favour giving or receiving; businesses should instead maintain professionalism. Pakistan, at the same time, would need to keep neutral on the religious side. Non-interference in one another’s internal affairs would help develop professionalism in business and economic growth. Pakistan and China’s rivals in geoeconomic and geostrategic dimensions would feel comfortable in creating disturbance through religious sensitivities; both would therefore need to exercise the utmost care in dealing with such matters. The economic corridor should objectively be used for business only without any discrimination, not even with India. This would build confidence for mutual trade and peace for mutual benefits and coexistence.
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- Belt and Road Initiative: Misgivings and Resolve
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