Everywhere in the world, a country when looking for economic prospects across its physical borders, always prefer its immediate and regional neighbors respectively. Pakistan is a sad exception to this norm. As SAARC has been rendered ineffective due to state policy of India, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has turned his attention toward Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation to accelerate cooperation in various fields, including aviation, capital markets and capacity development. According to the minister, Pakistan wants to enhance cooperation with central Asian states in business, trade and investment. There is a need to lay down oil and gas pipelines, develop infrastructure, and establish electricity transmission networks to spur economic growth within the countries in the region. Pakistan is committed to cooperate in projects aimed at enhancing regional connectivity among various countries in the region.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a milestone in regional connectivity, which will benefit not only Pakistan and China, but the entire region. The development of rail and road links will be right step in the right direction to enhance cooperation in the regional countries and achieve the cherished goals of economic development and prosperity of the people. There is a need to engage businessmen in the development projects and Pakistan offers cheap labour to foreign investors. The Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation program involves 11 countries and six multilateral development partners for promotion and development of regional economies.
One third of the world population lives in South Asia, China and central Asian states and all the countries need to enhance cooperation to accelerated economic growth and reduce poverty. However, India is stumbling block in every economic policy and activity and is not willing to activate South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation. Pakistan can allow transit trade facilities to India to market its products in central Asian states and China through land routes, but it is not willing to establish cordial relations with Islamabad.
The hostile government in India is doing everything possible to bulldoze economy of Pakistan and isolate it in the comity of nations. However, the Central Asian forum has immense potential to promote regional cooperation and facilitate trade, business and economy within the countries in the region. The program, aided by the Asian Development Bank, has mobilised around $30 billion in transport, trade, and energy infrastructure investments since 2001. Pakistan has also attracted part of the investment to improve railway system which has lost a major chunk of business to road transport companies. The next few years are very important for the economy of Pakistan and it is hoped the CPEC will play a vital role in the development of the national economy.