A leading Pakistani newspaper on Friday called for a wider debate on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) amid persistent questions about the benefits it would bring to the country.
“It is astonishing how little is known about the details (of the project) outside of a small coterie of individuals,” the Dawn said in an editorial.
“Without wider debate, the potential benefits of CPEC will not be felt by the common citizenry, at least not in the shape that we are being told.”
Welcoming the Army chief’s call for an “open debate on all aspects of CPEC”, the daily pointed to the irritants before any such debate can happen.
The Dawn accused the government of not disclosing many crucial details regarding the CPEC, including financing, Special Economic Zones and concessions being given to Chinese enterprises.
The Dawn said when it ran details from the long-term plan developed by Beijing for CPEC, “people were genuinely surprised to learn that the scope of what is planned under the corridor projects goes far beyond power sector investments and transit trade.
“An open debate is necessary, indeed vital, given the project’s depth and scope, to help build confidence that it is being pursued with the best interests of the country and its citizens in mind. Thus far that confidence is lacking.”
The editorial demanded to know the beneficial impact of the project and whether job creation will actually filter down to the Pakistani people and how far it will be syphoned off by their Chinese counterparts.
“The larger macroeconomic impact of the project is also in question given the heavy debt oriented nature of the inflows associated with it.”
The daily described as “a childish attitude” the Pakistan government’s stand that “an enemy of CPEC is an enemy of Pakistan”.
“If an open debate is to take place on all aspects of CPEC, then defensive reactions of this sort will have to be dispensed with.”