In a recent revelation, Pakistan’s Planning Minister, Ahsan Iqbal, claimed that China had cautioned the Pakistani establishment against pursuing any “new experiment” prior to the 2018 general elections. Iqbal made these remarks during a television program on Geo News called ‘Jirga,’ where he criticized the previous government led by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for undermining the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a project valued at USD 60 billion.
According to Iqbal, China had diplomatically conveyed its concerns to the Pakistani authorities, urging them to avoid any actions that could disrupt the progress of CPEC. The project, which forms a crucial component of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aims to establish economic connectivity between the two countries by developing infrastructure and energy projects.
Iqbal, a prominent leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), revealed that China had expressed apprehensions that engaging in a “new experiment” could potentially derail the CPEC initiative. Although he did not elaborate on the nature of this experiment, it can be inferred that China was cautioning against any significant political or policy changes that could disrupt the momentum of CPEC projects.
The assertion made by the Planning Minister sheds light on the delicate balance Pakistan had to maintain while navigating its domestic political landscape and its deepening ties with China. Pakistan has long been considered a close ally of China, and the CPEC is regarded as a vital partnership that promises economic growth and development for the country.
The 2018 general elections in Pakistan marked a significant political transition, with the PTI, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, coming to power. Iqbal’s comments suggest that China had reservations about potential policy shifts or changes in government that could impact the smooth implementation of the CPEC. However, it is important to note that Iqbal’s claims have not been independently verified, and the Chinese government has not officially commented on this matter.
The CPEC has faced its fair share of challenges and controversies since its inception. Critics argue that the initiative heavily favors China and raises concerns about Pakistan’s increasing debt burden. Nevertheless, the project has also been lauded for its potential to boost Pakistan’s economy, create job opportunities, and enhance infrastructure development.
China’s involvement in the CPEC has been a subject of strategic importance for both countries. For China, it serves as a gateway to the Arabian Sea, providing access to vital trade routes and reducing its dependence on the Strait of Malacca. Meanwhile, Pakistan views the CPEC as an opportunity to address its infrastructure deficit and promote economic growth.
The claims made by Ahsan Iqbal, if true, highlight the importance China attaches to the successful implementation of the CPEC. It suggests that China was actively monitoring the political developments in Pakistan and expressed concerns to ensure the continuity and stability of the project. The Chinese government has not yet responded to these claims, leaving room for speculation and further inquiry.
As Pakistan continues to navigate its political landscape, it must carefully balance its domestic priorities with its commitments to its strategic partners. The CPEC remains a critical project for Pakistan’s economic development, and any potential disruptions or deviations from its course could have far-reaching consequences for the country’s growth prospects.
The Pakistani government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, has reiterated its commitment to the CPEC and has taken steps to address concerns and streamline the project’s implementation. The success of the CPEC relies not only on the collaboration between Pakistan and China but also on the political stability and effective governance within Pakistan.
Ahsan Iqbal’s recent claims regarding China’s warning to Pakistan against any “new experiment” prior to the 2018 elections highlight the delicate nature of the China-Pakistan relationship and the significance of the CPEC project. While these claims require further verification, they underscore the need for Pakistan to maintain a careful balance between its domestic politics and its commitments to strategic partnerships like China. The CPEC’s successful implementation remains crucial for Pakistan’s economic growth and development in the years to come.