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CPEC

CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES

Poised to become the Prime Minister (PM). Imran Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will lead a new Coalition govt. Among the acute challenges will be severe distress in the economy. Foreign exchange reserves have depleted due to widening of current account deficit and repayment of previous loans. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) may be approached for a US$10 to 15 billion bailout package to stabilise the external sector. Rather difficult given that the US has a say in IMF affairs and US-Pakistan relations are at their lowest ebb. Out of the blue came a warning shot, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warning Pakistan, “There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars, and associated with that American dollars that are part of the IMF funding, for those to go to bail out Chinese bondholders or China itself”. While the coupling of one with the other is mystifying, for the foreseeable future the IMF option therefore appears closed. With the talk of a bailout by China not confirmed, the PTI govt needs engage the US govt with pragmatism, apprising them of the new dynamics emerging in the region and the need for both the countries to have a more constructive relationship.

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THE CPEC STORY

With the Pacific Ocean dominated by the US and Japan while the Indian Ocean by the US (conceivably along with its new ally India), China has to turn to its centuries old land routes. As far back as the 11th century, Genghis Khan was exhorting his generals not to depend upon the seas but upon merchants and land routes for trade. In 1941 Japan went to war being denied sea access to sources of raw material in South and Southwest Asia. An efficient network of land, sea and air passages in Asia, Europe and Africa, that would not be prone to intervention by hostile powers during times of crisis, the “One Belt one Road” (OBOR) strategic initiative was thus launched by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.

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LETTING A 100 DAMS BLOOM

For a country blessed with many rivers, the perennial scarcity of water in Pakistan is because of the shortage of storage capacity. While problematic presently, a full blown crisis is not so far in the distant future. While all provinces face shortages of water, Balochistan stands out as the most affected. This looming disaster can […]

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CHINESE HIGHWAY TO ENERGY HEAVEN

Flanked by his Minister of State Abid Sher Ali and the Federal Secretary, Ms Nargis Sethi, Khawaja Asif, the Federal Minister for Water and Power, and of Defence, claimed that load-shedding was necessitated because of the rapid accumulation of circular debt to Rs280 – Rs300 billion. Some private power plants had shut down, reducing the power supply by 1500 MW and taking the overall shortfall to 7,000 MW. Forced into unannounced power outages to “save the system”, he said that the govt had framed short, medium and long-term plans to end load-shedding in the country. Strangely enough he contradicted himself at the same time by admitting his govt’s inability to remove deficiencies in the system.

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