Economic corridor project with Beijing assured despite Pakistan leadership change

By Aftab Hussain Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/30 20:08:39

The supreme court of Pakistan disqualified prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Friday, and he ceased to be the prime minister of the country.

Nawaz Sharif has named his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif as successor, but it will take some time before a new prime minister is in place.

Nonetheless this will not impact Pakistan's political stability in any way. All the political parties favor the continuation of the democratic process.

Some supporters of Nawaz Sharif have expressed concerns that his removal will have a negative impact on the ongoing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. They speculate that the new prime minister may not be as vigorous as Nawaz Sharif in support for the CPEC. Such concerns are only political in nature and are aimed at distracting the public from the issue of disqualification as well as staking out positions ahead of the next election in 2018. It is nothing but pure politics at play.

The disqualification of Nawaz Sharif should be seen as a legal matter, although with political consequences, as he failed to prove himself qualified for the post of prime minister. There is a procedure to maintain political stability in the country. In a democratic setup, personalities change and institutions ensure the security, stability, progress and development of the country. The institutions of Pakistan are becoming more and more powerful, as is evident from the current judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

There is a system in place for the construction of the CPEC, monitoring and participating in the development of the project. Therefore, the CPEC as well as bilateral relations with China will not be impacted by the change of leadership in Pakistan. Since 1962 there have been changes of personalities on both sides but bilateral cooperation still continues. The Chinese have dubbed the two countries "iron brothers." China is considered an all-weather friend by all the political parties of Pakistan and the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif cannot change that.

China has also assured its support for the project despite the political change in Pakistan. Responding to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang in a statement said, "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 Belt and Road."

The spokesperson also hoped for the unity of political parties for the economic development of Pakistan. The timely statement ensures that bilateral ties are not only between the leaders of two nations but more importantly between the people of the two nations. China will keep supporting Pakistan no matter who is in the power.

Both countries have supported each other through thick and thin. Not only politicians but also the common people on both sides of the border cherish Pakistan-China relations. Recently China provided several scholarship opportunities to Pakistan students for learning Chinese in China. This effort will further strengthen the relations between two countries. The final barrier of language between two nations will soon be overcome. The enhanced people-to-people contact will bridge the gap between the people of two countries.

Nonetheless, the next prime minister, which will likely be Shahbaz Sharif, also holds the responsibility to make sure that work on the CPEC project continues as scheduled and all the projects are completed in time.

The CPEC is considered to have great importance by the people of Pakistan. Discussions have been held on how the people of Pakistan will benefit from this project. As the chief minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif himself is quite keen and personally interested in the proposed special economic zones and infrastructure and power projects inside Punjab. It is hoped that once he assumes power as prime minister of Pakistan, he will work with the same spirit toward the development of the CPEC as well as toward the progress and economic prosperity of Pakistan as a whole.

The author is a Pakistani research scholar of international relations based in Shanghai. aftabhussein@hotmail.com Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion



Posted in: ASIAN REVIEW

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