FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
What’s the plan, Pakistan?
Posted:May 17, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
Pakistan’s Minister for Planning, Development and Reform says that the news report claiming to have ‘revealed’ the CPEC ‘master plan’ was half-cooked and an attempt to defame the initiative. He’s right on both counts. The report presented a seminal working document prepared by the Chinese side as the actual Long-Term Plan and it was laced with negative commentary. So, will the minister be kind enough to tell us what our response to the Chinese proposals entailed and what was finally decided in Beijing over the last weekend? Will he tell us what the real deal is?
 
Actually, more worrisome than this recent attempt to drag CPEC into dirt is the non-transparent way in which the minister and his government have gone about the business of managing CPEC, whether it is the long-term planning or the implementation of projects initiated under it. The minister says that the news report was based on a document that had become redundant and it sought to distort the ‘final draft’ discussed on the side-lines of the OBOR summit in Beijing. So, will he be kind enough to share the ‘final draft’ with the nation? That would nip all the distortions and speculations in the bud.
 
After all, don’t these distortions and speculations signify a failure of his ministry? Why is there such a dearth of information on what is being planned under the umbrella of CPEC? Why should a half-cooked news report be our only source of information about how this national game-changer will develop? Shouldn’t the Ministry of Planning be more forthcoming with information about what it is doing in this regard and what it is proposing?
 
In fact, shouldn’t it engage the citizens of Pakistan, the most important stake-holders of the initiative, in defining the future contours of our cooperation with China? That’s clearly too much to ask of a ministry that didn’t even bother to share with us what our Chinese partners had proposed for the long-term. That document had to be ‘revealed’ to us through a misleading news report, which was as exclusive as it was half-cooked.
 
It presented the Long-Term Plan proposed for the CPEC by the Chinese Development Bank (CBD) and the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC) as if it were an ultimatum from the IMF and not recommendations put on the table for discussion between two partners. It mentions right in the beginning that the finalisation of the Long-Term Plan figured on the top of the agenda of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Beijing, but it is clueless about the ‘abridged version’ and the ‘final draft’ prepared by the Planning ministry for discussion with our Chinese partners. The news report is oblivious of the role our Planning ministry was supposed to play in amending and augmenting the proposals to suit our national interest.
 
 
The Planning Minister now tells us that his ministry worked with the CDB and the NDRC to develop an ‘abridged version’ of the Long-Term Plan proposed by them and, after incorporating inputs from provincial governments and concerned ministries and departments, a ‘final draft’ was prepared which was approved by the prime minister and his cabinet. Interestingly, this is the plan that Pakistan would like China to agree to but the minister doesn’t want to tell us what it is. Why should it be such a secret?
 
 
The minister’s stance that he cannot reveal the ‘final draft’ of the proposed Long-Term Plan before it is approved by our Chinese partners is hard to digest. The Long-Term Plan is, as he says, a live document that the two sides have agreed to modify when needed and review periodically. Why should the Nawaz government keep it so close to its chest? What is it that it doesn’t want us to know until it is done?
 
Even the exhaustive consultative process that, according to the minister, took place to finalise the draft, seem to have taken place behind the back of not only the public but also the special committee of the parliament constituted to oversee CPEC whose members are as ignorant about it as the rest of us. The provincial governments of PTI in KP and PPP in Sindh and opposition parties have complained of being left out of the loop and they accuse the Nawaz government of hijacking the CPEC to serve its petty partisan ends. How else does one explain the lack of transparency around CPEC?
 
What, after all, has been proposed in the ‘final draft’ by the Nawaz government? Does our government have ideas of its own for Pakistan’s development and have they been incorporated in the ‘final draft’ to be discussed with our Chinese partners? Or, given the proclivity of our leaders to follow orders of donors without asking too many questions, is the ‘final draft’ just a rehash of Chinese proposals, tampered here and there to advance petty political and corrupt objectives? Can we trust the government to act in our national interest and plan for public welfare? Does it have the will and the capacity to do such things? We must appreciate the difference between our promising engagement with China and the slavery of the empire.
 
In the case of China, we have a say in which way we’d like our cooperation to go.
The possibilities are endless and how we decide to proceed depends as much on us as it depends on China. We could turn it into a cooperative partnership or foster another relationship of dependence. At the end of the day, it depends on our leadership and its vision.
 
Instead of blaming our Chinese partners for proposing a plan that fits in with their vision of national development, perhaps we need to focus more on the response of our government and whether it has made any effort to protect and promote our national interest while formulating the ‘final draft’ for the Long Term Plan of CPEC.
Some of the concerns expressed about the proposals are valid. But who is supposed to address them and ensure that our cooperation with China is truly a win-win scenario?
 
Nation, May 18, 2017
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has confirmed his presence for the occasion. In an exclusive interview with INDIA REVIEW & ANALYSIS, Indonesia’s Ambassador to India, Sidharto R.Suryodipuro, reminded Nilova Roy Chaudhury that the first Chief Guest for India’s Republic Day celebrations, in 1950, w
 
read-more
The words of Ho Chi Minh  “Nothing is more precious than independence and liberty” rang true for the people of the erstwhile East Pakistan when, with increasing brutality, the West Pakistani oppression spread across the land, writes Anwar A Khan from Dhaka
 
read-more
In a significant boost to New Delhi's Act East Policy, India and Japan set up the Act East Forum on Tuesday as agreed during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India this year for the annual bilateral meeting that would help to focus and catalyse development in India's Northeast.
 
read-more
  United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reiterated on Friday Washington's warning that “all options are on the table” to meet North Korea's nuclear threat while offering to keep the lines of communication with Pyongyang open.
 
read-more
The 15th trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China concluded in New Delhi on Monday with many nuanced takeaways embedded in the joint statement of 46 paragraphs. Reiterating that the forum “is not directed against any other country”, the statement underlined the importance of the establishment o
 
read-more
The first thing that one sees when a flight approaches New Delhi is thick smog that envelopes the city and its lack of greenery.  In almost all other major cities of India lack of greenery is the most obvious sight that one sees when approaching it by air.
 
read-more

Pakistan has agreed to allow the rupee to depreciate after holding talks with the International Mone­tary Fund (IMF) on the country's economy.

 
read-more

Two major global changes in the past year; the ‘Brexit’ referendum and the advent of Donald Trump, writes Sandeep Kaur Bhatia

 
read-more

It is also imperative for India to explore other regions for markets. Its trade deficit with Latin America has been narrowing. Also, its trade with Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala has increased, ...

 
read-more
Column-image

Over the last 25 years, India's explosive economic growth has vaulted it into the ranks of the world's emerging major powers. Long plagued by endemic poverty, until the 1990s the Indian economy was also hamstrung by a burdensome regulat...

 
Column-image

Title: A Ticket to Syria; Author: Shirish Thorat; Publisher: Bloomsbury India: Pages: 254; Price: Rs 399

 
Column-image

Gorichen, a majestic peak in the Eastern Himalayas at an altitude of 22,500 feet, is the highest in Arunachal Pradesh. Beautiful to look at and providing a fantastic view from the top, it is extremely tough climb for mountaineers.

 
Column-image

It is often conjectured if the reason for long-standing conflicts and insurgencies, in the developing world, especially South Asia, is not only other powers fishing in troubled waters but also the keenness of arms industries, mostly Western, to...

 
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699