China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a 3,218-kilometer long route, to be built over next several years, consisting of highways, railways, and pipelines. The actual estimated cost of the project is expected to be US$75 billion, out of which US$45 billion plus will ensure that the corridor becomes operational by 2020. The remaining investment will be spent on energy generation and infrastructure development. The corridor aims to boost cooperation in different sectors between the two countries, including trade, energy, industry and finance. It will deepen the economic connection between Pakistan and China.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has been regarded as a project of mutual benefit for both countries. In China’s perspective, security and economic development are interconnected and improvement in one field can lead to the improvement in the other. The economic development taking place in Pakistan as a result of CPEC, will strengthen the security situation in the country and in the region. It will contribute, in economic development, political stability and strengthen security in the region. For China, CPEC is a result of strategic interest in expanding its influence in the region, as Pakistan serves as a crucial bridge between China and Central Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. Security and stability in Pakistan will make it possible for China to reach the markets of these regions and have an expanded influence in the region.
One of the major challenges faced by CPEC is terrorism, which has long affected Pakistan’s internal security and stability. Although Pakistan has worked hard to combat terrorism in the last few years but because of the strategic importance of the corridor, the project activities and the sites can be targeted by internal and external extremist and terrorist groups. Besides terrorism, the local politics can also influence the project’s smooth implementation as there have been disagreements in including different areas in the project.
China and Pakistan have taken positive measures to help set up the CPEC for success. To address the different challenges faced by CPEC, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has been founded in 2015. The council has opened offices in Beijing and Islamabad respectively, and its purpose is to assist with the implementation of the project activities. Increase in cultural ties through culture exchange programs among the people of both countries can also help in the smooth implementation of the project. Despite the challenges faced by CPEC, the governments of both the countries as well as the people of both the countries are very optimistic and excited about the expected fruitful impact of the corridor on both the countries and on the whole region.