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Pak China Economic Corridor Essay Writing

China–Pakistan Economic Corridor(Chinese: 中国-巴基斯坦经济走廊; Urdu: پاكستان-چین اقتصادی راہداری‬‎; also known by the acronymCPEC) is a collection of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan.[2] Originally valued at $46 billion, the value of CPEC projects is now worth $62 billion.[3][4][5] CPEC is intended to rapidly modernize Pakistani infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones.[6][7][4][5] On 13 November 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia,[8] while some major power projects were commissioned by late 2017.[9][10][11]

A vast network of highways and railways are to be built under the aegis of CPEC that will span the length and breadth of Pakistan. Inefficiencies stemming from Pakistan's mostly dilapidated transportation network are estimated by the government to cause a loss of 3.55% of the country's annual GDP.[12] Modern transportation networks built under CPEC will link seaports in Gwadar and Karachi with northern Pakistan, as well as points further north in western China and Central Asia.[13] A 1,100 kilometre long motorway will be built between the cities of Karachi and Lahore as part of CPEC,[14] while the Karakoram Highway between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely reconstructed and overhauled.[15] The Karachi–Peshawar main railway line will also be upgraded to allow for train travel at up to 160 km per hour by December 2019.[16] Pakistan's railway network will also be extended to eventually connect to China's Southern Xinjiang Railway in Kashgar.[18] The estimated $11 billion required to modernise transportation networks will be financed by subsidized concessionary loans.[19]

Over $33 billion worth of energy infrastructure are to be constructed by private consortia to help alleviate Pakistan's chronic energy shortages,[20] which regularly amount to over 4,500MW,[21] and have shed an estimated 2–2.5% off Pakistan's annual gross domestic product.[22] Over 10,400MW of energy generating capacity is to be brought online by the end of 2018, with the majority developed as part of CPEC's fast-tracked "Early Harvest" projects.[23] A network of pipelines to transport liquefied natural gas and oil will also be laid as part of the project, including a $2.5 billion pipeline between Gwadar and Nawabshah to eventually transport gas from Iran.[24] Electricity from these projects will primarily be generated from fossil fuels, though hydroelectric and wind-power projects are also included, as is the construction of one of the world's largest solar farms.[25]

CPEC's potential impact on Pakistan has been likened to that of the Marshall Plan undertaken by the United States in post-war Europe.[26][27][28][29] Pakistani officials predict that CPEC will result in the creation of upwards of 2.3 million jobs between 2015–2030, and add 2 to 2.5 percentage points to the country's annual economic growth.[30]

Were the initial $46 billion worth of projects to be implemented, the value of those projects would be roughly equivalent to all foreign direct investment in Pakistan since 1970,[15] and would be equal to 17% of Pakistan's 2015 gross domestic product.[31] CPEC is seen as the main plank of Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative.[32]



Plans for a corridor stretching from the Chinese border to Pakistan's deep water ports on the Arabian Sea date back to the 1950s, and motivated construction of the Karakoram Highway beginning in 1959.[33] Chinese interest in Pakistan's deep-water harbour at Gwadar had been rekindled by 1998 and in 2002 China began construction at Gwadar port which was completed in 2006. Expansion of Gwadar Port then ceased thereafter owing to political instability in Pakistan following the fall of General Pervez Musharraf and subsequent conflict between the Pakistani state and Taliban militants.[34]

The current form of the project was first proposed by Pakistan Muslim Leauge Mr Nawaz Sharif invited heads of all the political parties to a Luncheon in honour of the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on 22 May 2013.[35] A memorandum of understanding on cooperation for long-term plan on China–Pakistan Economic Corridor between the two governments was inked by Xu Shao Shi and Shahid Amjad Chaudhry. [36]

In February 2014, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain visited China to discuss the plans for an economic corridor in Pakistan.[37] Two months later, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with Premier Li Kequiang in China to discuss further plans,[38] resulting in the full scope of the project to be devised under Sharif's tenure.[39] In November 2014, Chinese government announced its intention to finance Chinese companies as part of its $45.6 billion energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of CPEC.

Announcement of CPEC[edit]

CPEC will be a strategic gamechanger in the region, which would go a long way in making Pakistan a richer and stronger entity than ever before.
— Firstpost (India) April 22, 2015[40]

During the state visit of Xi Jinping to Pakistan in April 2015, he wrote in an open editorial stating: "This will be my first trip to Pakistan, but I feel as if I am going to visit the home of my own brother." On 20 April 2015, Pakistan and China signed an agreement to commence work on the $46 billion agreement, which is roughly 20% of Pakistan's annual GDP,[41] with approximately $28 billion worth of fast-tracked "Early Harvest" projects to be developed by the end of 2018.[42]

Subsequent developments[edit]

On 12 August 2015 in the city of Karamay, China and Pakistan signed 20 more agreements worth $1.6 billion to further augment the scale and scope of CPEC.[43] Details of the plan are opaque,[44] but are said to mainly focus on increasing energy generation capacity.[45] As part of the agreement, Pakistan and China have agreed to co-operate in the field of space research.[46]

In September and October 2015, the government of the United Kingdom announced two separate grants to the Government of Pakistan for construction of roadways that are complementary to CPEC.[47][48] In November 2015, China included the CPEC into its 13th five-year development plan,[49] while in December 2015, China and Pakistan agreed on a further $1.5 billion investment to set up an information and technology park as part of the CPEC project.[50] On 8 April 2016, during the visit of Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Zhang Chunxian companies from Xinjiang with their Pakistan counterparts signed $2 billion of additional agreements covering infrastructure, solar power and logistics.[51]

The first convoy from China arrived in Gwadar on November 13, 2016, thereby formalizing operation of CPEC.[52] On December 2, 2016, the first cargo train, launching the direct rail route and sea freight service between China and Pakistan, departed from Yunnan. A cargo train loaded with 500 tonnes of commodities left Kunming for the port city of Guangzhou from where the cargo will be loaded on ships and transported to Karachi, marking the opening of the new route.[53] The new rail, sea freight will cut logistics cost, including that of transport, by 50 per cent.[54]

In November 2016, China announced an additional $8.5 billion investment in Pakistan with $4.5 billion allocated to upgrade Pakistan's main railway line from Karachi to Peshawar including tracks, speed and signalling, and $4 billion toward an LNG terminal and transmission lines to help alleviate energy shortages.[55] In February 2017, the Egyptian Ambassador to Pakistan expressed interested in CPEC cooperation.[56] In January 2017, the Chief Minister Pervez Khattak of Khyber Pakthunkhwha stated that he had received assurances from Chinese investment companies that they would invest up to $20 billion for projects.[57] In March 2017, an agreement was signed for the projects which include: a $1.5 bn oil refinery, irrigation projects worth $2 billion, a $2 billion motorway between Chitral and DI Khan, and $7 billion worth of hydro-electric projects.[58]

As of September 2017, more than $14 billion worth of project were under construction.[32] In March 2018, Pakistan announced that following the completion of under-construction energy projects, future CPEC energy projects would be geared towards hydropower projects.[59]

Projects in Gwadar Port and City[edit]

Gwadar forms the crux of the CPEC project, as it is envisaged to be the link between China's ambitious One Belt, One Road project, and its Maritime Silk Road project.[60] In total, more than $1 billion worth of projects are to be developed around the port of Gwadar by December 2017.

Gwadar Port Complex[edit]

Main article: Gwadar Port

Initial infrastructure works at Gwadar Port commenced in 2002 and were completed in 2007,[34] however plans to upgrade and expand Gwadar's port stalled. Under CPEC agreement, Gwadar Port will initially be expanded and upgraded to allow for docking of larger ships with deadweight tonnage of up to 70,000.[61] Improvement plans also include construction of a $130 million breakwater around the port,[62] as well as the construction of a floating liquefied natural gas facility that will have a capacity of 500 million cubic feet of liquefied natural gas per day and will be connected to the Gwadar-Nawabshah segment of the Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline.[63]

The expanded port is located near a 2,282-acre free trade area in Gwadar which is being modelled on the lines of the Special Economic Zones of China.[64] The swathe of land was handed to the China Overseas Port Holding Company in November 2015 as part of a 43-year lease.[65] The site will include manufacturing zones, logistics hubs, warehouses, and display centres.[66] Businesses located in the zone would be exempt from customs authorities as well as many provincial and federal taxes.[61] Business established in the special economic zone will be exempt from Pakistani income, sales, and federal excise taxes for 23 years.[67] Contractors and subcontractors associated with China Overseas Port Holding Company will be exempted from such taxes for 20 years,[68] while a 40-year tax holiday will be granted for imports of equipment, materials, plant/machinery, appliances and accessories that are to be for construction of Gwadar Port and special economic zone.[69]

The special economic zone will be completed in three phases. By 2025, it is envisaged that manufacturing and processing industries will be developed, while further expansion of the zone is intended to be complete by 2030.[34] On 10 April 2016, Zhang Baozhong, chairman of China Overseas Port Holding Company said in a conversation with The Washington Post that his company planned to spend $4.5 billion on roads, power, hotels and other infrastructure for the industrial zone as well as other projects in Gwadar city.[30]

Projects in Gwadar city[edit]

China will grant Pakistan $230 million to construct a new international airport in Gwadar which is to be operational by December 2017.[70] The provincial government of Balochistan has set aside 4000 acres for the construction of the new $230 million Gwadar International Airport which will require an estimated 30 months for construction,[71] the costs of which are to be fully funded by grants from the Chinese government which Pakistan will not be obliged to repay.[72]

The city of Gwadar is further being developed by the construction of a 300MW coal power plant, a desalinisation plant, and a new 300 bed hospital.[73] Plans for Gwadar city also include construction of the East Bay Expressway – a 19 kilometre controlled-access road that will connect Gwadar Port to the Makran Coastal Highway.[74] These additional projects are estimated to cost $800 million, and are to be financed by 0% interest loans extended by the Exim Bank of China to Pakistan.[73]

In addition to the aforementioned infrastructure works, the Pakistani government announced in September 2015 its intention to establish a training institute named Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute at Gwadar,[34] which is to be developed by the Gwadar Port Authority.[75] The institute is to be completed by March 2016 at the cost of 943 million rupees,[34] and is designed to impart to local residents the skills required to operate and work at the expanded Gwadar Port.[34]

Roadway projects[edit]

The CPEC project envisages major upgrades and overhauls to Pakistan's transportation infrastructure. Under the CPEC project, China has announced financing for $10.63 billion worth of transportation infrastructure so far; $6.1 billion have been allocated for constructing "Early Harvest" roadway projects at an interest rate of 1.6 percent.[76] The remainder of funds will be allocated when the Pakistani government awards contracts for construction of road segments which are still in the planning phase.

Three corridors have been identified for cargo transport: the Eastern Alignment though the heavily populated provinces of Sindh and Punjab where most industries are located, the Western Alignment through the less developed and more sparsely populated provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, and the future Central Alignment which will pass through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Balochistan.[77]

Karakoram Highway[edit]

Main article: Reconstruction of the Karakoram Highway

The CPEC projects call for reconstruction and upgrade works on National Highway 35 (N-35), which forms the Pakistani portion of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). The KKH spans the 887 kilometre long distance between the China-Pakistan border and the town of Burhan, near Hasan Abdal. At Burhan, the existing M1 motorway will intersect the N-35 at the Shah Maqsood Interchange. From there, access onwards to Islamabad and Lahore continues as part of the existing M1 and M2 motorways. Burhan will also be at intersection of the Eastern Alignment, and Western Alignment.

Upgrades to the 487 kilometer long section between Burhan and Raikot of the Karakoram Highway are officially referred to in Pakistan as the Karakoram Highway Phase 2 project. At the southern end of the N-35, works are already underway to construct a 59-kilometer-long, 4-lane controlled-access highway between Burhan and Havelian which upon completion will be officially referred to as the E-35 expressway.[78] North of Havelian, the next 66 kilometres of road will be upgraded to a 4-lane dual carriageway between Havelian and Shinkiari,[79] Groundbreaking on this portion commenced in April 2016.[80]

The entire 354 kilometres of roadway north of Shinkiari and ending in Raikot, near Chilas will be constructed as a 2-lane highway.[80] Construction on the first section between Shinkiari and Thakot commenced in April 2016 jointly with construction of the Havelian to Shinkiari 4-lane dual carriageway further south.[81] Construction on both these sections is expected to be completed with 42 months at a cost of approximately $1.26 billion with 90% of funding to come from China's EXIM bank in the form of low interest rate concessional loans.[81][82][83]

Between Thakot and Raikot spans an area in which the government of Pakistan is currently either planning or actively constructing several hydropower projects, most notably the Diamer-Bhasha Dam and Dasu Dam. Sections of the N-35 around these projects will be completely rebuilt in tandem with dam construction.[84] In the interim, this section of the N-35 is currently being upgraded from its current state until dam construction commences in full force at a later date. Improvement projects on this section are expected to be completed by January 2017 at a cost of approximately $72 million.[85][86] The next 335 kilometres of roadway connect Raikot to the China-Pakistan border. Reconstruction works on this section of roadway preceded the CPEC, and were initiated after severe damage to roadways in the area following the 2010 Pakistan floods. Most of this section of roadway was completed in September 2012 at a cost of $510 million.[87]

A large earthquake rocked the region nearest to the China-Pakistan border in 2010, triggering massive landslides which dammed the Indus River, resulting in the formation of the Attabad Lake. Portions of the Karakoram Highway were submerged in the lake, forcing all vehicular traffic onto barges to traverse the new reservoir. Construction on a 24 kilometre series of bridges and tunnels to Attabad Lake began in 2012 and required 36 months for completion. The bypass consists of 2 large bridges and 5 kilometres worth of tunnels that were inaugurated for public use on 14 September 2015 at a cost of $275 million.[88][89] The 175 kilometre road between Gilgit and Skardu will be upgraded to a 4-lane road at a cost of $475 million to provide direct access to Skardu from the N-35.[90][91]

In December 2017, China suspended funding for portion of Karakorum Highway (KKH) from Raikot to Thakot[92] on allegations of corruptions in the project.

Eastern Alignment[edit]

Main articles: M5 motorway (Pakistan) and M-9 Super Highway

The term Eastern Alignment of CPEC refers to roadway projects located in Sindh and Punjab provinces – some of which were first envisioned in 1991.[93] As part of the Eastern Alignment, a 1,152 km long motorway will connect Pakistan's two largest cities, Karachi and Lahore with 4 to 6-lane controlled access highway designed for travel speeds up to 120 kilometres per hour.[94] The entire project will cost approximately $6.6 billion, with the bulk of financing to be distributed by various Chinese state-owned banks.[95]

The entire Eastern Alignment motorway project is divided into four sections: a 136 kilometre long section between Karachi and Hyderabad also known as the M9 motorway, a 345 kilometre long section between Hyderabad and Sukkur, a 392 kilometre long section between Sukkur and Multan,[96] and a 333 kilometre section between Multan and Lahore via the town of Abdul Hakeem.[97]

The first section of the project will provide high speed road access from the Port of Karachi to the city of Hyderabad and interior Sindh. Upgrade and construction works on this section currently known as Super Highway between Karachi and Hyderabad began in March 2015, and will convert the road into the 4-lane controlled access M9 Motorway which will be completed in an estimated 30 months.[98] In February 2017, a completed 75 kilometre stretch of the motorway was opened for public use by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.[99]

At the terminus of the M9 motorway in Hyderabad, the Karachi-Lahore Motorway will continue onwards to Sukkur as a six lane controlled-access motorway known also as M6 motorway that will be 345 kilometers long,[96] The planned cost for this project is $1.7 billion,[100] and will provide high speed road access to interior Sindh – especially near the towns of Matiari, Nawabshah, and Khairpur. The project will require the construction of seven interchanges, and 25 bridges on the Indus river and irrigation canals.[101] The planned route of the motorway runs roughly parallel to the existing National Highway and Indus Highway at various portions. In July 2016, the Pakistani government announced that the project would be open to international bidders on a build-operate-transfer basis, with Chinese and South Korean companies expressing interest in the project.[100]

The 392 kilometre Sukkur to Multan section of the motorway is estimated to cost $2.89 billion,[94] with construction works inaugurated on this section of roadway on May 6, 2016.[102] The road will be a six lane wide controlled access highway,[103] with 11 planned interchanges, 10 rest facilities, 492 underpasses, and 54 bridges along its route.[102] The Pakistani government in January 2016 awarded the contact to build this section to China State Construction Engineering,[94] but final approvals required for disbursement of funds were not granted by the Government of the People's Republic of China until May 2016.[83][94] 90% of the project's cost is to be financed by concessionary loans from China, with the remaining 10% to be financed by the government of Pakistan.[104] Construction on this segment is expected to last 36 months.[94]

Construction of the portion between Multan and Lahore costing approximately $1.5 billion[105] was launched in November 2015[106] as a joint venture between the China Railway Construction Corporation Limited and Pakistan's Zahir Khan and Brothers Engineers[107] The total length of this motorway section is 333 kilometres; however, the first 102 kilometres of the road between Khanewal and Abdul Hakeem is designed as part of the M4 Motorway, and is being funded by the Asian Development Bank.[108][109] The portion of motorway between Abdul Hakeem and Lahore that is under construction as part of CPEC will consist of the remaining 231 kilometers.[110]

Western Alignment[edit]

Main articles: Western Alignment and Brahma Bahtar-Yarik Motorway

The CPEC project envisages an expanded and upgraded road network in the Pakistani provinces of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and western Punjab Province as part of the Western Alignment. The Western Alignment project will result in the upgrading of several hundred kilometres worth of road into 2 and 4-lane divided highways by mid-2018, with land acquisition sufficient for upgrading parts of the road to a 6-lane motorway in the future.[111] In total, the CPEC project envisages re-construction of 870 kilometres of road in Balochistan province alone as part of the Western Alignment. Of those 870 kilometres of road, 620 kilometres have already been rebuilt as of January 2016.[112]

The Western Alignment roadway network will begin at the Barahma Bahtar Interchange on the M1 Motorway near the towns of Burhan and Hasan Abdal in northern Punjab province.[113] The newly reconstructed Karakoram Highway will connect to the Western Alignment at Burhan, near where the new 285-kilometre-long controlled-access Brahma Bahtar-Yarik Motorway will commence.[114] The motorway will terminate near the town of Yarik, just north of Dera Ismail Khan.[115] Groundbreaking for the project took place on May 17, 2016.[116] The motorway will traverse the Sindh Sagar Doab region, and cross the Indus River at Mianwali before entering into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It will consist of 11 interchanges, 74 culverts, and 3 major bridges spanning the Indus, Soan, and Kurram Rivers.[117] Total costs for the project are expected to be $1.05 billion.[118]

At the southern terminus of the new Brahma Bahtar-Yarik motorway, the N50 National Highway will also be upgraded between Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Zhob in neighbouring Balochistan province, with eventual reconstruction between Zhob and Quetta.[119] The upgraded roadway will consist of a 4 lane dual-carriageway spanning the 205 kilometre distance between the two cities.[120] The first portion of the N50 to be upgraded will be the 81 kilometre portion of the N50 between Zhob and Mughal Kot, with construction works having begun in January 2016.[121] Construction on this portion is expected to be completed by 2018 at a cost of $86 million.[119] While the project is considered a vital link in the CPEC's Western Alignment,[121] the project's cost will not be financed by Chinese state-owned banks, but instead by Asian Development Bank under a 2014 agreement which preceded CPEC,[122][123] as well as by a grant provided by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development.[124]

Heading south from Quetta, the Western Alignment of the CPEC will continue to the town of Surab in central Balochistan as the N25 National Highway. From Surab, a 470 kilometre long route known as the N85 National Highway will connect central Balochistan with the town of Hoshab in southwestern Balochistan province near the city of Turbat. The stretch of road between these cities was completed in December 2016,[125] as per schedule.[126]

Along the Western Alignment route, the towns of Hoshab and Gwadar are connected by a newly-built 193 kilometre long portion of the M8 Motorway – the Hoshab to Gwadar portion of the motorway was completed and inaugurated in February 2016 by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.[127] The Western Alignment will be flanked by special economic zones along its route,[128] with at least seven special economic zones planned to be established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.[111]

Associated roadway projects[edit]

ADB funded projects[edit]

The 184 kilometre long M-4 Motorway between Faisalabad and Multan does not fall under the scope of CPEC projects, but is nevertheless considered vital to the CPEC transportation project. It will instead be financed by the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,[108] and will be the first project jointly financed by those banks.[129] Further funding comes from an additional $90.7 million grant announced in October 2015 by the government of the United Kingdom towards the construction of portion of the M4 Motorway project.[130]

The Karakoram Highway south of the city of Mansehra will also be upgrade into a controlled-access highway to officially be known as the E-35 expressway. While it is considered to be a crucial part of the route between Gwadar and China, the E35 will not be financed by CPEC funds. The project will instead be financed by the Asian Development Bank[131] with a $121.6 million grant from the United Kingdom towards the project.[132] Once completed, the E35 Expressway, the M4 Motorway, and Karachi-Lahore Motorway will provide continuous high-speed road travel on controlled-access motorways from Mansehra to Karachi – 1,550 kilometres away.

Approximately halfway between Zhob and Quetta, the town of Qilla Saifullah in Balochistan lies at the intersection of the N50 National Highway and the N70 National Highway. The two roads form the 447 kilometre route between Quetta and Multan in southern Punjab. While the N70 project is not officially a part of CPEC, it will connect the CPEC's Western Alignment to the Karachi-Lahore Motorway at Multan. Reconstruction works on the 126 kilometre portion of the N70 between Qilla Saifullah and Wagum are slated for completion by 2018,[133] and are financed as part of a $195 million package by the Asian Development Bank,[123] and by a $72.4 million grant from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development.[124]

Future Central Alignment[edit]

Long-term plans for a "Central Alignment" of the CPEC consist of a network of roads which will commence in Gwadar and travel upcountry via the cities of Basima, Khuzdar, Sukkur, Rajanpur, Layyah, Muzaffargarh, and terminating in Dera Ismail Khan, with onward connections to Karakoram Highway via the Brahma Bahtar–Yarik Motorway.[134]

Railway projects[edit]

The CPEC project emphasises major upgrades to Pakistan's ageing railway system, including rebuilding of the entire Main Line 1 railway between Karachi and Peshawar by 2020;[135] this single railway currently handles 70% of Pakistan Railways traffic.[136] In addition to the Main Line 1 railway, upgrades and expansions are slated for the Main Line 2 railway, Main Line 3 railway. The CPEC plan also calls for completion of a rail link over the 4,693-meter high Khunjerab Pass. The railway will provide direct access for Chinese and East Asian goods to Pakistani seaports at Karachi and Gwadar by 2030.[136]

Procurement of an initial 250 new passenger coaches, and reconstruction of 21 train stations are also planned as part of the first phase of the project – bringing the total investment in Pakistan's railway system to approximately $5 billion by the end of 2019.[137] 180 of the coaches are to be built at the Pakistan Railways Carriage Factory near Islamabad,[138] while the Government of Pakistan intends to procure an additional 800 coaches at a later date, with the intention of building 595 of those coaches in Pakistan.[138]

Main Line 1[edit]

Main article: Karachi–Peshawar Railway Line

The CPEC "Early Harvest" plan includes a complete overhaul of the 1,687 kilometre long Main Line 1 railway (ML-1) between Karachi and Peshawar at a cost of $3.65 billion for the first phase of the project,[76] with the first phase expected to be completed by December 2017.[139] In June 2016, China and Pakistan unveiled plans for the second phase of the project, with a total cost of $8.2 billion for both phases of the project.[140] The second phase of the ML-1 overhaul project is expected to be completed in 2021.[140]

Upgrading of the railway line will permit train travel at speeds of 160 kilometres per hour, versus the average 60 to 105 km per hour speed currently possible on existing track,[141] and is expected to increase Pakistan Railways' annual revenues by approximately $480 million.[136][142] The upgrades are also expected to cut transit times from Karachi to Peshawar by half.[143] Pakistani railways currently account for 4% of freight traffic in the country, and upon completion of CPEC, Pakistani railways are expected to transport 20% of the country's freight traffic by 2025.[144]

The first part of the expedited first phase of the project will focus on upgrading the Multan to Peshawar section, which will then be followed by the Hyderabad to Multan section, and finally by the Hyderabad to Karachi section.[145]

At the time of CPEC's announcement, the ML-1 consisted of mostly dual track railway between Karachi, and the Lahore suburb of Shahdara, with long stretches of single track. From Shahdara, the track mainly consisted of a single track until the city Peshawar. Construction works to dualize the entire track between Karachi to Shahdara were completed and inaugurated in January 2016.[146] As part of the first phase of the CPEC railway project, the remaining stretch of track between Shahdara and Peshawar is to upgraded to a dual track railway.[147]

The 676 kilometer portion between Lalamusa, north of Lahore, and Peshawar will require complete reconstruction with the addition of tunnels, culverts, and bridges, while over 900 kilometers south of Lalamusa towards Karachi will be upgraded to handle cars with a 25-ton axle load capacity.[148] A spur from Taxila to Havelian will also be constructed, with a dry port to be established near the city of Havelian.[149] Further, the entire length of track will have computerised signal systems, with stretches of track in urban areas to also be fenced off to prevent pedestrians and vehicles from crossing tracks in unauthorised areas.[150]

Main Line 2[edit]

Main article: Kotri–Attock Railway Line

In addition to upgrading the ML-1, the CPEC project also calls for similar major upgrade on the 1,254 kilometre long Main Line 2 (ML-2) railway between Kotri in Sindh province, and Attock in northern Punjab province via the cities of Larkana and Dera Ghazi Khan.[151] The route towards northern Pakistan roughly parallels the Indus River, as opposed to the ML-1 which takes a more eastward course towards Lahore. The project also includes a plan to connect Gwadar, to the town of Jacobabad, Sindh[152] which lies at the intersection of the ML-2 and ML-3 railways.

Main Line 3[edit]

Main article: Rohri–Chaman Railway Line

Medium term plans for the Main Line 3 (ML-3) railway line will also include construction of a 560 kilometer long railway line between Bostan near Quetta, to Kotla Jam in Bhakkar District near the city of Dera Ismail Khan,[153] which will provide access to southern Afghanistan. The railway route will pass through the city of Quetta and Zhob before terminating in Kotla Jam, and is expected to be constructed by 2025.[136]

Lahore Metro[edit]

Main article: Orange Line (Lahore Metro)

The $1.6 billion Orange Line of the Lahore Metro is under construction and is regarded as a commercial project under CPEC.[154] Construction on the line has already begun, with planned completion by Winter 2017.[155][156] The line will be 27.1-kilometre (16.8 mi) long, of which 25.4 kilometres (15.8 mi) will be elevated, with the remaining portion to be underground between Jain Mandir and Lakshmi Chowk.[157] When complete, the project will have the capacity to transport 250,000 commuters per day, with plans to increase capacity to 500,000 commuters per day by 2025.[158]

Khunjerab Railway[edit]

Main article: Khunjerab Railway

Longer term projects under CPEC also call for construction of the 682 kilometre long Khunjerab Railway line between the city of Havelian, to the Khunjerab Pass on the Chinese border,[153] with extension to China's Lanxin Railway in Kashgar, Xinjiang. The railway will roughly parallel the Karakoram Highway, and is expected to be complete in 2030.[136]

The cost of the entire project is estimated to be approximately $12 billion, and will require 5 years for completion. A 300 million rupee study to establish final feasibility of constructing the rail line between Havelian and the Chinese border is already underway.[159] A preliminary feasibility study was completed in 2008 by the Austrian engineering firm TBAC.[160]

Energy sector projects[edit]

Pakistan's current energy generating capacity is 24,830 MW,[161] though the country currently faces energy shortfalls of over 4,500MW on a regular basis[21] with routine power cuts of up to 5 hours per day,[22] which has shed an estimated 2–2.5% off its annual GDP.[22] Energy generation will be a major focus of the CPEC project, with approximately $33 billion expected to be invested in this sector.[20] As part of the "Early Harvest" scheme of the CPEC, an estimated 10,400 MW of electricity are slated for generation by March 2018 as part of CPEC's "Early Harvest" projects.[23]

The energy projects under CPEC will be constructed by private

Gwadar Port has been operational since 2007.
A view of the Gwadar Promontory and isthmus.
A map of the CPEC roadway network.
Highlighted in red is the route of National Highway 35, which is to be completely rebuilt and upgraded under the CPEC agreement. Highlighted in blue is the 175 kilometre road between Gilgit and Skardu which is to be upgraded to a 4-lane highway.
China and Pakistan already conduct trade via the Karakoram Highway.
Phase 1 of the ML-1 overhaul and reconstruction is highlighted black between Peshawar and Lahore. Overhauling and reconstruction of the line will allow trains to travel at up to 160 kilometres per hour.
Phase 2 of the ML-1 overhaul between Multan and Hyderabad is marked in orange. Phase 3 of the project is indicated by the green line between Hyderabad and Karachi.
ML-2 of Pakistan Railways is marked in purple, while ML-3 is marked in orange. Other lines are in blue.

A mutibillion-dollar investment

The CPEC is a collection of infrastrucre and energy projects whose total worth is around $46 billion.


An ambitious project

The project was launched in 2015. If completed, the 3,000-km network of roads, railways and pipelines will link western China to Southern Pakistan.


Part of a larger Chinese strategy

The CPEC is a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Maritime Silk Road projects, two development plans that seek to deepen Mainland China's economic cooperation with a number of Asian and European countries.


CPEC in three geo-politically significant regions

The corridor will pass through Balochistan province - where a separatist movement has been under way for decades - as well as through Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).


Advantages for Pakistan

Pakistan's motivation for investing in the project is two-fold: it hopes the CPEC will stimulate economic development and increase energy production. In fact, $35 billion will be invested in coal and LNG-based thermal energy projects in Pakistan, the Economic Times reported.


Advantages for China

The ET report also outlined the wins for Pakistan's 'all-weather friend.' First, China expects to be able to transport its energy supplies from the Persian Gulf faster. Second, the corridor could lead to economic development in Western China, a land-locked region. And finally, China, by "establishing its physical footprint" in Gilgit-Baltistan, also hopes to check the movement of Uighur separatist militants


Gwadar port

The Gwadar deep-water port in Balochistan province is an important cog in the CPEC apparatus. China Overseas Ports Holding Company Ltd, the Chinese firm that in 2013 took over port operations, expects Gwadar port to be fully operational before the end of the year, and to process a million tons of cargo in 2017. Most of the cargo will be construction materials for the CPEC. It is worth noting that in the conflict-torn region where the port is situated, there has been a decades-long struggle for independence from Pakistan, which is accused of siphoning the region's resources into its coffers to the detriment of its residents.


Security for Chinese nationals

More than 17,000 Pakistani security personnel have been tasked with providing protection for Chinese nationals in Pakistan. It was reported in April than Pakistan was set to deploy an additional 4,000 personnel to provide security for Chinese nationals working on the CPEC - amongst other projects - in Punjab province.


Satellite monitoring

Pakistan and China will monitor the progress made on CPEC projects using a satellite, which is set to be launched in June 2018, the Dawn online reported.


Increasing anger against China, Pakistan

In August, it was reported that residents of Gilgit-Baltistan and PoK were increasingly angry with Pakistan's and China's exploiting their natural resources without sharing the benefits of development with them. In Gilgit-Baltistan, the influx of Chinese workers have left many locals unemployed, and it is also feared that the CPEC will create an ecological imbalance in the region. In addition, the Gilgit-Baltistan government and the Pakistani Arrmy are forcibly acquiring locals' ancestral lands for the CPEC, Senge H Sering, director, Gilgit-Baltistan National Congress told ANI.

With inputs from agencies

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