The Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research is holding an international conference in collaboration with the National Defence University on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The purpose of this conference is to discuss various aspects of this economic partnership specifically highlighting key points like the benefits to Balochistan and the various challenges and opportunities the corridor offers. The conference will be joined by Deputy Chief of Mission Embassy of People’s Republic of China (Islamabad), Mr. Zhao Li Jian, Senator Anwaar-ul- Haq, Senator Khuda Babar, DG ISSRA Maj. Gen. Muhammad Samrez Salik, Maj. Gen (R) Raza Muhammad and Brig. Dr. Hassan Jalil.
This event will be a closed seminar open only to the students and faculty members of NDU.
Mr. Li Jian has been nominated by the Chinese Embassy as Deputy Head of Mission for the on-going power projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Anwaar ul Haq Kakar is a Pakistani politician who has been a Member of the Senate of Pakistan, since March 2018. He was elected to the Senate of Pakistan as an independent candidate on general seat from Balochistan in Pakistani Senate election, 2018. He took oath as Senator on 12 March 2018.
Khuda Babar is a Pakistani politician who has been a Member of the Senate of Pakistan, since March 2018. Babar was elected to the Senate of Pakistan as an independent candidate on general seat from Balochistan in Pakistani Senate election, 2018. He took oath as Senator on 12 March 2018.
Major General Muhammad Samrez Salik, HI(M) was commissioned in 10 Medium Regiment Artillery in March 1985. Mr. Samrez is a graduate of Command and Staff College and National Defence University Islamabad. He is Masters in Warfare, Defence and Strategic Studies. During his 29 years of service, the General has served on number of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments which includes Platoon Commander Pakistan Military Academy Kakul, Brigade Major of Infantry Brigade, United Nation Military Observer, Deputy Assistant Military Secretary at Military Secretary Branch, Assistant Private Secretary to Chief of Army Staff, General Staff Officer Grade-1 Military Operation Directorate, Directing Staff at Armed Forces War College and Chief of Staff HQ 4 Corps. Mr. Samrez commanded his parent unit, Artillery 7 Division, 102 Infantry Brigade, 33 Division & his previous appointment was Vice Chief of General Staff at General Headquarters, Rawalpindi. He is presently serving as Director General Institute of Strategic Studies & Research Analysis, National Defence University Islamabad.
Major General Raza Muhammad is a retired two-star general of the Pakistan Army who served as the High Commissioner for Pakistan to Mauritius. He was concurrently accredited to Republic of Seychelles, Republic of Madagascar and Union of the Comoros. Raza Muhammad has also been awarded Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military) for his meritorious services to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He is currently serving in Army Welfare Trust, as Executive Director Services. He has also served at the Inter-Services Intelligence before he was deputed to the Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP), Rawalpindi as Additional Secretary. Raza Muhammad is also a PhD scholar at the IR Department of National Defence University.
The Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research held a one day international conference on 9th April 2018, in collaboration with the International Relations Department of the National Defense University. The seminar, themed on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, was a closed event focusing on student participation with policy makers and academicians, and featured a prominent panel of speakers.
The inaugural session, entitled ‘CPEC and the Pak-China Strategic Partnership’, was chaired by the Dean of the Faculty of Contemporary Studies, Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema. The first speaker, Deputy President of NDU Air Vice Marshal Faheem, spoke on the CPEC’s potential to enhance regional connectivity once fully developed. The Deputy Chief of Mission of the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Zhao Li Jian, spoke on the further strengthening bond between Pakistan and China in the evolving strategic milieu. He stated that the CPEC is a partnership between the two countries in economy, trade, people to people relations, agriculture, as well as science and technology; adding that with 8 of the 43 CPEC projects already completed and 14 undergoing construction, the Corridor represented a a long-term commitment, the progress of which would remain unaffected by changes of government on either side.
The following session, entitled ‘CPEC and Benefits to the Province of Balochistan’, began with a Welcome Address by President CSCR Anas Abdullah. He touched upon the increased connectivity facilitated by the US $62 billion OBOR initiative and its potential for connecting the European and African markets. Senator Anwaar ul Haq Kakar, who is also a member of the CSCR Board of Advisors, spoke on the impact of CPEC in terms of enhancing domestic connectivity, within Balochistan as well as in connecting Balochistan with the other provinces. He stated that Balochistan is central to the socio-economic development and prosperity of Pakistan. Senator Kahuda Babar Baloch gave a presentation on the impact of CPEC on the province of Balochistan. Beginning with the role of Gwadar in the CPEC project, he detailed the master plan envisioned for Gwadar city and its strategic significance for the Corridor. The Senator also discussed the six Special Economic Zones planned for Balochistan, namely Gwadar, Qilla Saifullah, Dasht, Khuzdar, Turbat and Bostan, and their significance for the province’s socio-economic uplift.
The second session, entitled ‘CPEC and Regional Connectivity’, was chaired by Brig (R) Dr. Hassan Jalil. The first panelist, Director General ISSRA Maj. Gen Muhammad Samrez Salik, spoke on the impact of CPEC on regional stability. The crux of his presentation was a focus on Gwadar port being ‘sine qua non for CPEC’, and CPEC in turn being ‘sine-qua-non for the Belt and Road Initiative’ of the Chinese government. He pointed out that the BRI could not be functional without the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, given that it connected the two components of the BRI, i.e. the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Route. He opined that the BRI was a master stroke of policy by the Chinese leadership and would serve to redefine global international relations.
Maj. Gen (R) Raza Mohammad, spoke on CPEC as a factor for regional connectivity, with reference to Afghanistan. He stated that while the inclusion of Afghanistan in the CPEC appeared to be a daunting undertaking at this juncture, it was not impossible; he explained this in the context of linking Afghanistan to Chahbahar, pointing out that several of the former’s key cities were located closer to Gwadar than to Chahbahar. Dr. Rizwana Abbasi discussed CPEC against the backdrop of global economic trends shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific region. She spoke on how China has the ability to challenge American economic interests in the region, as CPEC had the capacity to strengthen regional connectivity, despite forces attempting to obstruct it.
The third and final session, on ‘CPEC Challenges and Opportunities’ featured two talks. Dr. Shaheen Akhtar, Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations, discussed the internal and external challenges associated with the CPEC. She stated that CPEC, being a vital component of the BRI, is seen more through the lens of geopolitics rather than geo-economics, a fact which made it increasingly becoming vulnerable to geo-strategic competition between China and the United States, as well as with the latter’s strategic allies. She discussed how Gwadar Port, seen in Pakistan and China as a commercial undertaking, was purported by the West to be part of a ‘String of Pearls’ strategy. Dr. Waseem Ishaque spoke on CPEC from the lens of a grand strategic level, and highlighted how China had taken practical steps to create a win-win situation for Pakistan and China with CPEC.
The seminar ended with a vote of thanks by Vice President CSCR, Ms. Aiza Azam.