“Our object in the construction of State is the greatest happiness of the whole and not that of any one class.” (Plato)
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is considered to be a major breakthrough for the Pakistani economy. But, very few are acquainted with the real forces behind actualising this idea and ensuring the project process for successful completion. Many soldiers have lost their lives for the safe execution of this safe haven for Pakistan.
So what is the real happening behind the scenes? Is the Pakistani army actually playing a major role in the actualisation of CPEC? To address these questions I have divided my opinion under three domains which includes managing civilians, ensuring security and project execution.
It is evident from a series of historic events that the Pakistani army has always played a major role in managing the squabbling civilians. Moreover, army chiefs are in regular contact with all the stakeholders of CPEC related projects to monitor project statuses and progress.
Likewise, there are many militant groups including India’s proxies who are always engaged in interrupting the affairs of CPEC and making schemes to disrupt the ongoing projects. Although some attacks were successful but if we see deeply the major attacks have been won by Pakistan army which in return guarded the CPEC projects. Indeed upon closer inspection there is a profound history attached with the signing of CPEC project between the two countries.
Even before CPEC, Pakistan and have maintained long friendly relations for about six decades. But the major concern expressed by China before the signing of this project was links between Pakistani militants and the ethnic Uyghur Islamic militants which have traces from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The Chinese authorities were very much concerned about the presence of ETIM in the Pakistan territory. Moreover, China was of the belief that these militants group and fighters get training from Pakistan before they cross into Xinjiang to carry out attacks.
After taking into account the reservations of the Chinese authorities for project initiation the Pakistani army launched a strong military operation against Al-Qaeda associated militant groups which includes ETIM as well in Pakistan’s North Waziristan area. Moreover, the Pakistani army launched Zarb-e-Azab operation in North Waziristan and successfully eradicated almost of all the militant groups involved in creating problems for Sino-Pak relationships. The successful operation by Pakistan Army resulted in the signing of CPEC, which will be a monumental boost in their economy.
Besides this, there are thousands of soldiers and hundreds of intelligence officers that are appointed to work and manage the prevailing security situation along the western route and in Gwadar. In addition, the Pakistani army has also played an imperative role in the successful pilot run with truck convoys reaching Gwadar unharmed.
Apart from this, our military constitutes of thousands of civil, mechanical, electrical and software engineers with decades of expertise in the domain of building large infrastructural projects. According to an analyst at the Financial Times, the Pakistani military is well placed to monitor, control and supervise the corridor. Indeed Pakistan Army’s Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) is involved in building challenging roads which will serve as significant parts of the CPEC. Apart from the CPEC route in the mid-sixties this organisation also placed and executed the idea of constructing a strategic road link between China and Pakistan which connects China through Khunjrab Pass.
In addition, FWO is quite active in building extensive road networks in Balochistan approximately 900 kilometres long, which aims at bringing peace and prosperity in the region. Furthermore, FWO has built approximately 502 kilometres in length on the western alignment of CPEC which links Gwadar with other parts of the country. Likewise, this organisation has further taken up the challenge to extend the perks of Gwadar port to the rest of the country by constructing roads in rugged mountainous terrain, highly remote and inaccessible areas.
It is imperative to recognise that the Pakistan army is playing a significant role at different fronts not only safeguarding the borders and providing protection to our society. Indeed, they are also ensuring the progress and its completion of major projects such as CPEC. Moreover, they are trying to encapsulate all economic growth drivers with aid of their leadership skills and also using its power and influence to bring all stakeholders, politicians and civil servants under one umbrella to give birth to developed and better Pakistan.