With the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) being one of the most important components of the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing Review and The Daily Mail based in Islamabad jointly surveyed public sentiment on the infrastructure project. Edited excerpts of the respondents' views follow:
Jamal Guchki, a fishing trawler owner who has a family fishing business in Gwadar City, Balochistan Province
We have come to know that the CPEC is going to be heavily beneficial for us and that Chinese companies are not coming here for fishing. They have other mega projects and will help us to upgrade our fishing network and infrastructure with both technical and financial assistance.
We have also learnt that some Chinese companies plan to open vocational training institutes and our children, after being trained, will get good jobs with the Chinese companies in the area. We have realized that there is no conflict between our business and the businesses the Chinese companies are going to run here. Some Chinese have also told us that their companies are planning to open small schools and hospitals in the remote areas of Gwadar and other areas of Balochistan.
After [learning all this], the fishermen in the area are happy. We are supporting the CPEC and rebutting rumors. The CPEC has given us new hope for a brighter and more comfortable life for the generations to come.
Umer Adil, a filmmaker based in Karachi City, Sindh Province
I commend the efforts under the CPEC by both countries for the promotion of relations. I am also impressed by Chinese showbiz and glamor. China has such a rich history and culture that I wish more Pakistanis get to see that side of China too, for I believe in order to strengthen the bond between the Chinese and Pakistanis, they must both be familiar with each other's culture. My recent film Chalay Thay Saath (We Went Together) has a China-Pakistan background.
I hope the Chinese Government will initiate projects including bilateral exchange of TV programs. Production houses could make films casting actors from across the border. I look forward to working with the Chinese modeling and showbiz industry in the future, watching Chinese TV shows on Pakistani TV and learning more about their culture and values.
Usman Haider, a banker in Islamabad City
I am very excited to see that the CPEC, despite the controversies in the beginning, is finally sailing smoothly. As a banker, I can see its importance in Pakistan's financial sector. Stock indexes across Pakistan started to rise sharply after foreign direct investment started pouring in as work began on the CPEC. Chinese initiatives like the BRICS' New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank have proved that China means serious business in the global financial sector and economy.
My message to China is that they should initiate steps for renminbi clearing bank transactions in Pakistan and push the Chinese financial sector to float joint ventures with Pakistani banks for joint development in the financial sector. The Chinese Government should arrange exchange of delegations from the financial sectors of both countries so that bankers could have a clearer picture of the financial atmosphere and operational style in each other's country, which is the backbone for the swift growth of Pakistan-China economic ties in future.
With the Bank of China opening a branch in Islamabad and Pakistani banks like Habib Bank and the National Bank opening offices in different cities of China, I can foresee that the CPEC will also reshape the outlook of Pakistan's financial and banking sector.
Sobia, a private school teacher in Sargodha City, Punjab Province
Chinese leaders have proved to be sincere friends of Pakistan. I think for the utmost benefit of the CPEC, the Chinese leadership must take the initiative to have authenticated Chinese language centers in remote cities of Pakistan like Sargodha. A lot of Pakistani boys and girls wish to learn Chinese, but there are no facilities. We are ready to arrange the accommodation and security, at citizens' level, for Chinese language teachers.
Efforts in this sector by the Chinese leadership will immensely benefit both the Chinese and Pakistanis as communication between the two nations will become easier, which will demolish the language barrier. In my opinion, this would be the key to the success of the CPEC.
Barkat Gull, a cab driver in Peshawar City, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province
Since my childhood, I know that China is the most dependable and most trusted friend of Pakistan. During the earthquakes and floods when I grew up, I personally experienced the dedicated efforts by the Chinese Government and rescue workers and the generous aid sent by the people of China. We are prime witnesses to the depth of these exemplary [Sino-Pakistani] relations not only at the government-to-government level but also at the people-to-people level.
The cab I drive is a hired one and I have to pay a hefty rent to the owner of the car every day. To the Chinese government officials, my humble message is that they motivate Chinese cab-hailing apps like Didi and Kuaidi to operate in Pakistan under the CPEC. These taxi service apps will bring a healthy competition to Pakistan, which will benefit not only the cab drivers and passengers but also the Chinese visiting Pakistan, since they will be able to use apps familiar to them here in Pakistan as well.
Mustafa Khan, a former general of Pakistan Army
The dimensions of the CPEC clearly indicate that proper and specialized implementation of projects under it is clearly set not only to change the economic outlook of Pakistan but also to reshape the financial state of individuals. But one has to be very careful in the implementation, and there should be no politicization. Security and safety was a big challenge for the CPEC's success, but the Pakistan Army and its security and other law-enforcing mechanisms have proved that they are capable of handling this task. Not only has the Pakistan Army created a special security division for the dedicated security of the CPEC, the recent and ongoing anti-terror operations by the army and joint anti-terror drills by the Pakistani and Chinese armies are a very solid factor to discourage threat perceptions.
Aslam Shaikh, a policeman in Islamabad
I had served security duties during the visits of many foreign dignitaries and delegations over many years. As for my views on the CPEC, I must share with you that after activities under the CPEC started and many delegations from China started visiting Pakistan, our seniors devised new and more specialized security courses for us. I guess I am just an ordinary policeman and too low on the rung to give my views on the future of the CPEC. Yet, as a Pakistani, my views are that since a lot of Pakistan-China joint military exercises take place every year, the Chinese leadership should also try initiating similar joint drills amongst both countries' police forces. Such a move can enable Pakistani cops to learn a lot from their Chinese counterparts especially in terms of countering terrorism in the most advanced technological manner. I suggest such drills should also be made part of the CPEC. [The Chinese side] should focus more on increasing our capacity, provide us with the latest weapons and train us through joint drills to be at par with our Chinese counterparts. This would be, in my opinion, a tremendous gift by China to Pakistan under the CPEC.
Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar
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