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All roads lead to Gwadar

Published on 28th Nov, Edition 48, 2016

 

On 10th April 2016, talking to the Washington Post, Zhang Baozhong, Chairman of China Overseas Port Holding Company said that his company could spend a total of $4.5 billion on roads, power, hotels and other infrastructure for the industrial zone, which he said would be open to non-Chinese companies. The company also plans to build an international airport and power plant for Gwadar. This would be the first time where a country deliberately and unequivocally has given a direct incentive for growth to the manufacturing and production sectors in another country. This is just one of the features that are coming to light with the development of Gwadar.

Economists and analysts around the world are of the view, that if Gwadar develops as per plans between the Chinese and Pakistan government, it will be one of the most booming port cities in Asia. It is the apex point of the $50 billion plus investment by China in Pakistan under the umbrella of CPEC, One Belt One Road Initiative and Maritime Silk Projects. It seems that the strategic position of Pakistan, which has been a curse from a historical perspective is finally transforming into a promising treasure holding immense rewards for the nation.

The Gwadar port is among the initial construction works to be completed. The port is being built in two phases after being inaugurated in 2007. Now, that the Gwadar port management and completion on time has been sublet to the Government of China. Gwadar port is all set to have more trade volume capacity than Karachi and Port Qasim combined.

Gwadar is without a doubt a unique entity in its own. It is a city in the southwestern coast of Balochistan, just 600 kms away from Karachi. Included in the overseas possessions of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman since 1783, it was purchased by the Government of Pakistan in 1958. This was, not a coincidence of any sort but rather a deliberated strategy that came after the authentic Deep Water Report issued by the United States Geological Survey in 1954. The head of the survey team was Worth Condrick who said that “Gwadar is a sea port made by nature”. Little did anyone realize that the young nation of Pakistan had found treasure buried under a rock. Gwadar formally became a part of the Balochistan province in 1977.

In order to fathom the massive investments coming from China, one must consider the plus points, which will be offered to the Chinese people in undertaking all these ventures in Pakistan and Gwadar. Considering the bilateral and reciprocal endeavor, the Chinese government has decided to bring a lot to the table. First and foremost, Pakistan has been offered a total of 27,000 megawatts of additional energy that would eliminate the power shortage in the country and reduce the cost of industrial and domestic consumption. To put that figure into perspective we are currently producing less than 14,000 megawatts effectively. In lay man’s terms that is huge. It is a target, which would be simply impossible to achieve without the financial and political intervention of a great power such as China.

Further, CPEC entails setting up state-of-the-art industrial parks, construction projects and economic zones that will raise the standard of living of the labor class while urbanizing populations in their wake. In transportation, the Chinese government has promised to upgrade railway, road and transportation networks through massive investments in public and private sector. Last, but not the least, the human capital in Pakistan has been kept as a focus area as CPEC includes agreements on setting up technical and educational institutions to counter unemployment and promote lower class prosperity on the same lines as being done in China. The question is, would these be part of the negotiating table without Gwadar?

 

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will undoubtedly be counted among the most magnificent and historic projects of the current century. Gwadar is set to become the chief centre for import and export for Central Asian countries, Afghanistan and China and with it, a paradise for foreign direct investment.

The GDP growth is expected to double for Pakistan by virtue of the massive economic activity in the country. The first phase has been completed while work is taking place on the infrastructure to complete the rest at breakneck speed. A 653 km long modern and spacious Makran Coastal Highway along the coast of Gwadar has been completed and a railway line of 910 km is to be laid from Mastung to Gwadar.

Owing to the political, geographical and business importance, the government is giving practical shape to its development projects on the residential side as well. A state-of-the-art network of highways has been laid out to meet the requirement of settling populace. The Makran Coastal Highway is a fantastic example of a main road constructed with growth and trade in mind. One can see that the planners left ample setbacks to increase the capacity of the highway as commercial activity starts bustling.

At this point, Gwadar should be the ultimate focus for the people and Government of Pakistan. It is the shining star of the future of prosperity and development. China, an emerging superpower has aligned its concern and interest with Pakistan and it is high time that we take advantage of this tide and ensure our rise along with the rise of the Chinese Dragon. As to be expected when dealing with a state building activity on this grand a scale petty political disagreements and provincial disputes will occur time to time, however, they will not be a hurdle in the fulfillment of Gwadar as a prime focus for Pakistan.

Keeping in mind the future prospects of Gwadar, I’ve put my money where my mouth is and invested heavily in Gwadar. Being a real estate developer I see it as my patriotic duty to support this great national endeavor and my company Rafi Group is soon to launch Green Palms Gwadar. Green Palms offers an array of plot sizes and investment options tailored to various categories of investors. Mosques, community club, lawns, educational institutes, corporate towers and infrastructure as per modern standards are just the few of the facilities being developed in Green Palms. We hope that the Green Palms Housing Project is going to be a flagship project of Gwadar city. I urge all my friends in the private sector to come to Gwadar and start their operations, help yourself while helping to build the future of Pakistan.

If Pakistan is to rise above this state of poverty and truly join the league of booming economies, it must communicate to every nook and corner of the country that all roads lead to Gwadar.

The writer is a Chairman, Rafi Group

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