Control over the sea for protecting the nations interest have played a significant role throughout the history. The great navy was the symbol of nations prosperity through different ways and means. A country with strategically important geographical location, its access to the ocean through ports, lakes, rivers and attitude towards making a state prosperous through trade and commerce plays an important role in its existence . Few of the countries which comes under the region of South Asia are naturally blessed with an access to the warm waters. Pakistan has the most favorable geostrategic location in the region. Gwadar is strategically important port cities of Pakistan. It is located on the southwestern coast in the province of Baluchistan. Lying on the mouth of Persian Gulf and on north of Arabian sea, Gwadar is significantly important city of Pakistan. With reference to past, Gwadar was the possession of Oman during the time from 1783 to 1958. The actual strategic value of the location was recognized in 1954 as a deep sea port with warm water. Moreover, it has connected Pakistan with Indian Ocean and has raised the geostrategic importance of the country in the eyes of the world. Though the potential of this region was untapped till the time of 2001, but the importance has been increased due to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project which will make Gwadar the golden goose for Pakistan in all social, political and economic means.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an economic project of regional connectivity officially signed by China and Pakistan for the purpose of enhancing the regional connectivity and geographical linkages with the benefit of providing better road, air and other transportation facilities along with the trade related activities between all the boarder connecting regions. CPEC is the journey of cooperation and economic regionalization between China and Pakistan. A future of hope, peace and development is all linked up with CPEC. The goal of this initiative is to transform and bring prosperity to Pakistan’s economy with modern road, rail and energy facilities for the upcoming future alongside to connect the deep sea port of Gwadar with China’s Xinjiang province by using the land route.
From the very beginning, Pakistan and China have the mutual economic ties and interests. The relation between both the countries is symbolized as Mountaineers where both the countries together are striving for gaining the economic opportunities for the people of their country. Since they believe that the long term economic objectives would definitely lead to the prosperous future along with the regional development in all the social, political and economic aspects. The idea of CPEC was started under the umbrella of OBOR between China and Pakistan for becoming stronger trade partners. For the purpose of trade and investments, Gwadar plays a significant role in achieving the actual goals of CPEC. Gwadar, whose potential was undermined 50 years back has now been transformed into one of the biggest potential areas of South Asia for fulfilling the trade and investments interest in many different dimensions. CPEC was officially signed in 2015 during Nawaz Sharif’s government in Pakistan. The project was started with the design of China One Belt One Road initiative. The project of CPEC has been taken forward with the same roots whose seeds were sown before in the form of Karakorum Highway between both the countries. OBOR consists of CPEC along with other five corridors with the main objective of developing the infrastructure in much broader manner. The strategic partnership between both the countries would bring the economic prosperity and peace in the region with the stronger friendship relation between China and Pakistan starting from Karakorum Highway to Gwadar. CPEC has two alignments in Pakistan from eastern and western side. The eastern alignment basically originates from Gwadar, passing through interior Sindh and reaching Islamabad from southern, central and northern regions of Pakistan and ultimately reaching to Khunjerab pass through Gilgit and Diamer in North of Pakistan.
Moreover, the success of CPEC has been linked with the development of Gwadar from the very beginning of this initiative. As Gwadar forms the crux of the CPEC project and will play a role of bridge for connecting regions through trade so such a scenario was kept in mind right from the planning of this initiative. The use of Gwadar in CPEC was to manifold the economy of Pakistan along side connecting all the regions near by for trade regulating purposes. Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan was the main agenda for China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s actual success.
In the development of the human society, geographical factor always plays a significant role in terms of bringing social, political and economic success in the region. Gwadar is considered to be a key player and is playing an important role in China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor in many different dimensions. Gwadar being the hub of Central Asia and a gateway to the Persian Gulf has naturally the endless importance. Gwadar which is located on the shores of the Arabian Sea has the connections with 3 different strategic areas of the world such as oil-rich Western Asia, the densely populated South Asia and Central Asia which is rich in natural resources. The sea has the potential of building up the imperative link between different regional countries for fulfilling the economic and trade interests according to the country wise interests and goals . Pakistan which is blessed with a sea frontage of almost 1100 kms stretching from the West and Southeast axis has now become a center of attention for rest of the world. Gwadar port because of its strategic position has created the sense of eagerness among different countries of the world who were looking forward to have an easy access to the warm waters. The deep sea port situated in Arabian Sea plays an important role in CPEC because through Gwadar different future connections of Maritime routes are linked.
Since the regional integration has now become an important aspect in the globalized world so in this connection, Gwadar has the vivid prospects for becoming the economic hub and is playing an important role in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The increase in the trade volume between the regionally connected areas like Central Asia, South Asia, West Asia and Western China is only possible through the strategic development of Gwadar due to which it has been considered as a game changer for the entire region and has the pivotal importance in CPEC.
The major goal of connecting the Western China with Northern Pakistan is only possible through the actual development of Gwadar port. The roots for the landlocked and under developed Xinjiang province for the purpose of opening up smooth trade is only possible through Gwadar port of Pakistan which lies at the mouth of Arabian Sea ultimately providing China with a free trade zone along with potentially giving China’s navy an easy access to the Indian Ocean. Since this massive project is more than a simple trade from developing of Pakistan’s economy to strengthening relations with regional countries, Gwadar is playing a significant role for both the countries to achieve their goals through CPEC . The province of Xinjiang is highly underdeveloped because of the poor infrastructure but with the help of connecting this region from Khunjerab pass to Gwadar which would be a source of bringing the better infrastructural development to the province of China. The actual linkage between Gwadar Port and Kashgar City of Xinjiang province of China would be a source of economic prosperity because these areas would become huge supplier and consumer markets due to the regulation of trade in the region and economic activity in the near future.
Being a city of trade hub and economic advantages, Gwadar is considered as the center of all activities of CPEC initiatives. As giant boom in the economic activities, Gwadar has played a significant role for serving as a center of CPEC activities. The locational advantage has also played a key role for CPEC investors because the port is considered as 17-18 meters deep. Being a stakeholder and player in this giant economic project, Gwadar is playing a remarkable role in seeking the attention of regional countries of the world. It has been analyzed that there is no CPEC without Gwadar in all the ways and means. Moreover, Gwadar has been considered as the potential holding area which has attracted number of foreign and domestic investors to invest in the region through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The strategies related to the blue economy in context of Gwadar will be fulfilled through CPEC due to which the region lies of great importance.
The goal of 21st Century Maritime Silk Route is becoming a reality through Gwadar. The trade through shipping networks and connectivity between different countries would be easier through the actual development of Maritime Silk Route which would link ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), the Pacific Islands, Indian Ocean region alongside African countries through this pivotal importance holding area Gwadar . Most importantly, Gwadar port would prove to be a shortest route for trade in many different dimensions such as (1) the reserves and productions of any exporting country is mostly in form of dry cargo so deep sea port of Gwadar would be a way forward for exporting the large number of dry cargo through large ships.(2) Gwadar would also prove to be a shortest warm water route especially for the Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan simply shows the importance of the region in CPEC. (3)Russia is considered as the highest investor in CPEC because of its search for warm waters which is only possible through the development of Gwadar port.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is considered as the gateway to the Central Asian countries but the only source through which the connectivity would be ease is through Gwadar Port. Since Central Asia is full of natural resources like oil, natural gas, petrol, coal but being landlocked region, the extraction of these resources is limited so therefore Gwadar would be a way forward for increasing the flow of natural resources from one particular area to another. The possibilities of regional cooperation and achieving the goals of CPEC, Gwadar plays a key role in this regard.
Above all, China and Pakistan shares common interest, border, strategic imperatives and convergence of ideas which simply shows the mutual relationship between them. CPEC has the mutual advantage and potential for both the countries in order to convert South Asia into regional economic hub through diverse ways. The development of Gwadar within China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would be a game changer for the whole region. The deep sea port of Gwadar is of huge importance within CPEC because it would play a role of center for the means of exports and imports through sea route. The potential holding port has the significance for all the investors who have invested in CPEC along with Pakistan whose geostrategic location is being utilized for the economic prosperity in the near future. For the purpose of facilitating trade with the landlocked states of Central Asia along with the underdeveloped province of China, Gwadar would serve as a source of regulating the regional trade and transportation in productive means. Though the severe competition between the regional countries India, China and Pakistan might be a challenge for CPEC completion whose success depends on the peace if maintained in the region.
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