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Gwadar Port crucial for economic connectivity

The deep-water port of Gwadar, nestled on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, has emerged as a pivotal juncture in the intertwining economic pursuits of China and Pakistan.

The idea of developing Gwadar as a deep-water port dates back to the 1950s, with discussions between Pakistan and various international partners. However, it was in 2002 that China’s interest in Gwadar truly catalyzed its transformation.

Today, the port is the cornerstone of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, a flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Gwadar with China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region through a network of infrastructure projects, including highways, railways and pipelines.

Gwadar Port holds immense significance for both China and Pakistan, shaping their economic, geopolitical and strategic interests. Its journey from a quaint fishing village to a bustling port city embodies the two nations’ shared aspirations.

The port’s role in the CPEC bolsters connectivity, trade diversification and energy security for China, while also promising economic growth and development for Pakistan. Its pivotal role in CPEC underscores the deep economic and geopolitical interdependence between the two nations in favor of economic prospects for the region.

It is a vital passage for global energy supplies that has drawn the attention of China and Pakistan. The port provides a shorter and more secure route for China’s energy imports, bypassing the longer and riskier voyage through the Strait of Malacca. As China is the world’s largest energy consumer, its energy security is of paramount importance. Gwadar contributes to China’s efforts to ensure a stable energy supply for its rapidly growing economy.

Gwadar Port’s development and trade activities facilitate exchanges among China, Pakistan and the Middle East, allowing China to diversify its trade routes and deliver goods in shorter periods of time than via maritime passages. Moreover, Gwadar’s strategic location presents opportunities for transshipment, boosting regional trade volume.

The recently built Gawadar Airport presents the vision behind this. The $230 million airport, the second-largest in Pakistan, is a flagship project of a new phase of the CPEC. The construction of the airport shows the seriousness and geo-strategic importance of Gawadar, which both sides acknowledge.

Gwadar Port has the potential to transform Pakistan’s economy by creating jobs, attracting foreign investment and promoting trade. The development of associated infrastructure, such as roads and railways, improves Pakistan’s connectivity internally and with neighboring countries. This could lead to economic growth and development, particularly in less-developed regions of the country.

Enhancement of Pakistan’s maritime influence in the region is high on the agenda and is a primary focus.

Despite its potential benefits, the Gwadar Port project faces challenges such as security concerns due to its proximity to conflict-prone areas, questions about the equitable distribution of economic benefits, and outside involvement in Balochistan province to destabilize Pakistan and make sure that the CPEC is hindered.

The recent attack on Chinese engineers is a prime example of this, as it was part of a campaign to destroy the brotherly bond between Pakistan and China and ultimately sabotage the CPEC.

One thing was commendable, though: the response by the people of Pakistan. Every aspect of life condemned the attack and questioned the authorities on the incident. The Pakistani people want Chinese working here to be safe and enjoy the hospitality of Pakistan. The Chinese have achieved support from the masses. This is the victory of China and a true example of a strong friendship that is deeper than the oceans and higher than the Himalayas.

Ensuring that local communities benefit from the project’s development is crucial for its long-term success. Gwadar’s development has the potential to uplift the livelihood of the local population by creating jobs, improving infrastructure and stimulating economic growth. However, careful planning is required to ensure that the benefits are distributed equitably among local communities, avoiding marginalization and dislocation.

As Gwadar continues to develop, careful navigation of challenges and concerns will be essential to unlock its full potential while ensuring that the benefits are shared by all stakeholders.

Gwadar serves as testament to how strategic partnerships can shape the course of regional and global dynamics. As Gwadar continues to evolve, it remains a focal point of regional and global dynamics, with the potential to reshape trade routes and regional connections for common prosperity in the broader region.
Source: China Daily Global

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