Dr. Abdus Sattar Abbasi
Probably the most important challenge for Pakistan is the global misperception about the country and the same is the biggest challenge for the progress of CPEC. When we meet our friends around the globe, who haven’t yet visited Pakistan, they usually ask us strange questions as there are hooligans roaming our streets, vandalism is a common observation and people firing on each other is quite frequent. It is not only limited to international observers, even when I watch our own news channels it scares me as there are criminals waiting at the end of my street to snatch everything I have.
But fortunately, in a span of three decades of my professional life it never happened that a gunshot I noticed around me except during New Year celebrations. Despite extensive social, legal and official engagements, being elder in the family, I never found a need to bribe anyone even for complex issues. I worked in different cities of Pakistan with other ethnicities but never noticed any discrimination; rather I made very good friends from Karachi to Peshawar.
Pakistan is a country of 241 million human beings; history of mankind proves that this planet never witnessed a society free of evil, crime and negativity. Our scriptures authenticate that criminal mindset existed even in the times of Adam(ع) and Eve(ع). Crimes are not strange to any of usaround the globe but howling about miss happenings on mainstream media will certainly damage reputation of the nation as it is doing for Pakistan.
Statistically Pakistan is in the bottom nations with incidents of robbery, theft and murders.Reports of World Population Review and The Global Economy are easily available on the internet, which clearly suggest that countries like Denmark, Sweden, Uruguay and Australia are top four countries while UK is at number 6 in the world with highest theft rates. Costa Rica, Argentina, Chili, Uruguay and Ecuador are top five countries with recorded robbery incidents while Pakistan is not among even top 50 countries. But if we look at the global media it will give you an image as these nations at the top of life-threatening crimes are less dangerous than Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistan is being portrayed by both national and international media as an unattractive destination. It is this perception which actually haunts Pakistan’s progress on every front,resultantly, economy bears the downside of misperceptions.
Separatist movements are operating in several countriesincluding India but it is Pakistan which remains on the radar depicting as a destination for extremists. Pakistan scarified so much to eliminate terrorism from this planet but doesn’t get appropriate international recognition. Pakistan put everything at stake and remained committed to fight against terrorism, didn’t even spare Pakistani citizens involved in any kind of extremism.
Informal corridors of remittances exist from Americas to African countries and some Asian nations but it was Pakistan which faced stringent FATF monitoring measures which resulted into the ‘blessing in disguise’ and refined several financial sector services of the country.
Political instability remains a challenge despite completion of last four democratically elected governments during two decades; but still there is a lot to do to ensure political stability for smooth progress of every sector. Political instability somehow contributes to the fragility of security apparatus andall these factors eventually shrink the overall productive capacity of the country.It is essential to eliminate pseudo misperceptions about Pakistan if we actually desire to realize the dream of economic progress.
It was anticipated that CPEC with excellent connectivity potential will bring prosperity not only for Pakistani businesses but will also support regional entrepreneurs to conveniently access potential markets beyond regional borders, however, there is not much advancement in this aspect since the inception of the project.
China being a surplus economy direly needs shipping and logistic hubs around the globe, which was one of the important reasons for the inception of CPEC. Gwadar being aptly located port provided Pakistan with an advantage over other regional ports to become a shipping and logistic hub facilitating China’s reach to rest of the world.Logistic sectors in both countries are thriving. China has already unveiled state-owned logistic giant to improve competitiveness globally.According to a senior official, the company will strive to ensure smooth flow of production factors under ‘dual circulation’ development paradigm and develop a secure, dependable and highly efficient modern logistic system. Pakistan’s logistics sector is growing rapidly, making it an excellent investment time for Chinese enterprises.
There is significant rise in religious tourism around the globe, according to a report published this year, “The faith-based tourism market size is projected to grow by USD 25.85 billion.”Among many historical traditions of Pakistan, Buddhist monuments and art, stand out and are known throughout the world. Some of the regions that now form part of Pakistan were important in the development and growth of Buddhism in the world.
These regions were considered among the holiest places in Buddhism and for hundreds of years attracted travelers, holy men and women from everywhere. The road network built under CPEC offers convenient connectivity to several Buddhist religious sites in Pakistan such as Taxila, MohraMuradu, Jandial, Mankiala,Takht-i-Bahi, Nimogram andDangram.
Advent of CPEC exposed unmatched generally hidden marine beauty of Pakistan. Anyone who visited Gwadar stayed astonished and hypnotized to the crystal clear, blue and calm waters of Gwadar. Coastal tourism can contribute significantly in the economy of country having natural blessings of beaches such as Kund Malir Beach, Daran Beach Jiwani, Ormara Beach, Sonmiani Beach and Gwadar Beach.
China is world’s most dynamic food and farm produce market. It is a net importer of bulk agricultural products such as grains, cottons, edible oils, sugar, meat and milk. About 70 % of China’s agricultural imports come from the far-flung corners of the world including United States, Brazil, and Australia.Pakistanshould utilize the opportunity of China’s increased demand for food which is currently estimated at $1 trillion per annum.However, it will be only possible if all stakeholders from top to bottom join hands to eliminate global misperceptions about the Country.
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