The Rise of Balochistan: How is CPEC empowering the Region and its People?

Coastal Highway Balochistan, Pakistan

Baluchistan, which could not develop satisfactorily for various reasons, now sees China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a ray of hope. CPEC and the recent development of Baluchistan ensure the best economic base for future generations; of course, the people of Baluchistan are part of this project and, stakeholders. Establishing free zones in Gwadar’s South and North Zones is a significant milestone in Pakistan’s export sector. It will start with Gold, Copper, and Reko Diqq, a welcome development for the agricultural economy.

The e-Custom System’s installation is expected to transform the Gwadar Port’s technical aspect of commerce completely. With the Web-based Once Custom (WeBOC) implementation, commercial activity at the port is expected to increase, leading to a rise in industrialization and logistic services. In addition, technical expertise in precision mechanics, instrument technology, and die and mold methods will be developed and generated through vocational training in various engineering disciplines. Given its status as an international metropolis, Gwadar will be home to multiple cultures. It is essential to observe that the political rights of locals will need to be codified to prevent their marginalization. The cumulative effect of these developments will be to transform Gwadar Port into a technically advanced port that will provide numerous benefits to the surrounding community and economy.

Reko Diq has the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold deposits, and the Gwadar Port will handle their export. The Barrick Gold Company has invested $7 billion in the mine, with another $3 billion expected to be invested over the following six years. This investment will make Gwadar more appealing as a destination for businesses. The Gwadar Free Zones were established to increase Pakistan’s exports and boost its competitiveness in international trade. The proximity of these zones to the port of Gwadar facilitates the export of goods by local businesses. The Free Zones enable exports and provide various products to the local market. This serves two purposes: helping to meet the requirements of the domestic market and creating employment opportunities for the community as a whole. The Gwadar Free Zones are an enormous asset to Pakistan’s economic development.

The federal government is taking action to empower Baluchistan’s youth, especially those in Gwadar, by giving them access to modern educational and technical education through the CPEC. Gwadar emphasizes its Technical Training centers for Precision Mechanics and Instrument Technology to achieve this. These centers have been constructed for Rs.1200 million and are furnished with the latest technology to provide kids with sophisticated training. Three technical and vocational training facilities are also operating in Gwadar for the education and skill development of the Baluch people. These include the Gwadar Institute of Technology and the Pak-China Technical and Vocational Training Institute. Gwadar is ensuring a better future for its people while fostering economic growth by putting capital into the education and skill-building of its young people.

The port will have 100 berths and can hold boats weighing up to 400,000 DWT. In addition to an expressway connecting to the Makran Coastal Highway, the port will have a free trade zone, a commercial complex, a technical and vocational institution, and a total land area of 2,292 acres. The port will be connected by rail and road to the CPEC, enhancing trade and transportation between China, Pakistan, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

China, Pakistan’s largest trading partner, would benefit from the port. Products from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan will be shipped through this port. The port will facilitate the importation of hydrocarbons and gas from the Persian Gulf and Iran. The Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline will utilize a floating LNG facility at the port.

The port’s Special Economic Zones (SEZ) will provide investors and businesses with incentives and facilities. The SEZ comprises the southern initial/pilot zone, the northern central location, and sub-zones. Fisheries, petrochemicals, minerals, automobiles, textiles, and logistics will dominate the SEZ. China and other nations will invest in the SEZ, creating jobs and fostering economic growth.

The port would improve Gwadar and Baluchistan’s roads, water, energy, telecommunications, health, education, and safety. The port will generate revenue for the local government and provide port-related activities for residents. Additionally, the facility will increase tourism and cultural interaction.

Terrorist groups, political instability, environmental issues, social unrest, legal disputes, and regional port competition threaten the harbor’s security. For these issues to be resolved and for the port to continue its development and operation without interruption, it requires increased funding, coordination, and stakeholder collaboration. Through the port, Pakistan and the surrounding region may enhance economic integration, trade diversification, energy security, regional stability, and geopolitical influence. The port will strengthen Pakistan-China relations and foster multilateral collaboration among Built Road Initiative (BRI) and MSR states. The facility will also aid the development of South Asia and beyond.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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