Pakistan Army's Behind-the-Scenes Role in CPEC Success
"Frustrated with the slow progress on a sprawling, $46bn infrastructure project stretching from China to south Asia, Beijing is seeking to give Pakistan’s army a lead role.... progress has stalled as the two sides work out how to turn the proposals into concrete projects, said Victor Gao, a former Chinese foreign ministry official, with some blaming Pakistan’s competing ministries"..... “Pakistani politicians have squabbled over the route for the CPEC and this may have made people nervous in Beijing,” said a Pakistan government official. “Pakistan is a noisy place politically while the Chinese are not used to harsh disagreements, especially over such a vital project.”
|Chinese Container Ship "Cosco Wellington" at Gwadar Port|
Gwadar Port Operational:
In the first week of November 2016, hundreds of containers arrived at Pakistan's Gwadar Port from Western China via CPEC's western land route. These containers were loaded onto "Cosco Wellington", a large Chinese vessel, and the ship departed Gwadar Port on November 13, 2016, for various destinations in Africa, Middle East and Europe.
So what is happening behind the scenes? Is the Pakistani military playing a big role in making CPEC a reality? What is the extent of Pakistan Army's participation in executing CPEC-related projects? Let's examine answers to these questions in three parts: Managing squabbling civilians, providing security and projects execution.
Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif is playing a very active behind-the-scenes role in managing the infighting among politicians, ministers and the civil servants. It has been reported that Gen Sharif has been talking to all of the stakeholders regularly to ensure progress on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.
Various militant groups, including Indian government proxies, are engaged in sabotaging CPEC. While some attacks have been successful, it is believed that the Pakistani military has been able to prevent many more. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of intelligence officers are believed to be working to manage the security situation all along the western route and in Gwadar. This is what made the recent pilot run with the trucks convoy reaching Gwadar and operationalizing the port recently.
The Pakistan military has thousands of civil, mechanical and electrical engineers with decades of experience in building large infrastructure projects and analysts say the army is well placed to supervise the corridor, according to the Financial Times.
In fact, Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization (FWO) is building significant parts of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). A July 2015 announcement is an illustration of what Frontier Works Organization is doing to advance CPEC:
Army's Strong Commitment:
Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has made his institution's commitment loud and clear by frequent statements on the subject. He has said “We will do everything to make it a success". He is also record as warning that “terrorism is a global issue and warrants global response. The funding of all terrorist organizations has to be checked by all. We are against use of proxies and won’t allow it on our soil".
Pakistan Army is playing a crucial role in ensuring progress and completion of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) related projects. The army leadership is using all its power and influence with all stakeholders, including politicians and civil servants, as part of this campaign to bring about development of infrastructure and energy to make Pakistan economically successful.
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