China has confirmed that the forced resignation of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will not negatively impact cooperation on building the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Many in the Pakistani and global media were concerned that after the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that Sharif could no longer hold political office due to his Panamanian tax shelter, the project could be under threat.
The most important development of Sharif’s last term in power and undoubtedly the most important achievement for Pakistan as a whole in that time was the creation of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The CPEC is a project integral to China’s One Belt–One Road project which seeks to modernise Pakistan’s trade and logistics infrastructure in order to make the movement of goods across the China/Pakistan border more efficient as well as expanding the capacity of goods which will flow across the border. Furthermore, Pakistan continues to develop ever closer military ties with China.
However, in spite of the political change, China has assured Pakistan and the wider world that the CPEC will continue as planned.
Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Spokesperson Lu Kang has stated the following on the matter,
“As a friendly neighbour, China hopes that all parties and sections in Pakistan can prioritise state and national interests, properly deal with their domestic affairs, maintain unity, stability, and keep focusing on the economic and social development.
We believe that the China-Pakistan strategic cooperative partnership will not be affected by the change of the situation inside Pakistan. China stands ready to work with Pakistan to continue jointly building the One Belt and One Road”.
This statement clearly underscores China’s confidence in the political stability of Pakistan and the non-partisan reality that Pakistan’s future depends on friendly cooperation with China, its long-time partner dating back to the Cold War era when both China and Pakistan’s economy were a fraction of their current respective strengths.
While the political situation in India becomes increasingly entrenched due to the repeated provocations of China by the government of Narendra Modi, Pakistan must and looks to be in fact rising above the politics of personality in order to maintain a multi-polar foreign/economic policy that will see Pakistan becoming a crucial junction on China’s One Belt–One Road initiative.
China is for all intents and purposes, Pakistan’s most important ally as it is China’s trading initiative that will help Pakistan to realise the monumental potential of her economy that has yet to be fully tapped. Furthermore, with India taking a position of conflict rather than cooperation with China, irrespective of India’s place in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), along with Russia and Pakistan, the door is wide open for Pakistan to pick up India’s lost opportunity in addition to capitalising on Pakistan’s natural friendship with China.
China’s statement should be seen as an endorsement of Pakistan’s stability and all Pakistani voters and politicians ought to take heed and not allow the pangs of the internal political process to distract attention from the clear goal of Pakistan’s position in the economically dynamic multi-polar world whose destiny is increasingly authored by Beijing.