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Peace in Afghanistan means prosperity for CPEC

By Zamir Ahmed Awan | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-12-24 10:11

A container is loaded on to the first Chinese container ship to depart after the inauguration of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor port in Gwadar, Pakistan, on Nov 13, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), huge investments have been made in infrastructure development. Most of the major projects are completed or near completion, while projects in the pipeline will be done within the next couple of years. After finishing these projects, Pakistan will emerge as one of the most developed countries in the region in terms of infrastructure.

Infrastructure projects are investment intensive in nature and the return on investment period is rather long, but they are vital for other sectors to develop rapidly. The true potential of Pakistan’s infrastructure can be realized if Central Asia and Russia also utilize Pakistan for trade through Gwadar. However, the biggest hurdle has been the instability of Afghanistan.

Fortunately, the world has realized that Afghanistan cannot be conquered, and now they are moving toward a restoration of peace. The US has announced a withdrawal of its 7,000 troops in the coming months. Hopes for peace and stability are very bright.

Four decades of war, waged by superpowers, have ravaged the entire country of Afghanistan, which has a nominal GDP of $22 billion and per capita income of $600, despite being rich in minerals and natural resources.

Its geopolitical location is vital for the whole region, as it connects Central Asia, Iran, China and Russia, with Pakistan leading toward warm waters – the Arabian Sea or Indian Ocean. All countries, suffering due to the precarious situation, desire a long-lasting peace in Afghanistan.

China launched the Belt and Road Initiative, one of the largest development initiatives in the world. Under the BRI, one of the the flagship projects is CPEC, which cannot utilize its full potential without a secure Afghanistan. There exists a strong will from Pakistan and China to extend CPEC to Afghanistan, which also has interest in joining this project to change its fate after four decades of war.

There is a need for a regional initiative which aims to find an indigenous solution, acceptable to all stakeholders. The objective is to end the hardships of the common people in Afghanistan. Pakistan can play a very important role for peace and stability in Afghanistan, while China can guarantee the implementation of any accord reached by two neighboring nations.

Today, China has emerged as the world’s second-largest economy. China understands its international responsibilities and has the potential to play an important role in Afghanistan. China is already contributing its share by more than 30 percent in the global economy and keeping the balance in geopolitics, promoting peace, stability and development globally.

We wish for an early end to the suffering of the average citizens of Afghanistan, who are deprived of the basic necessities of life, like food, shelter, health, education, electricity, fuel and medicine. The international community may focus on the reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan and alleviate the misery in Afghanistan.

Peace in Afghanistan means peace for the whole region. Prosperity in Afghanistan is prosperity for the whole region. All the regional countries will benefit from a stable Afghanistan, which will also help the BRI and CPEC to prosper, allowing the recently developed infrastructure in Pakistan to best be utilized and deliver a faster return on investment. It will be a win-win situation for not only Afghanistan but for the whole region.

Zamir Ahmed Awan is a Sinologist and nonresident fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

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