Conference on CPEC: Peace and Development in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

  • 9:00am
  • Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum (SSAQ) Auditorium, University of Peshawar

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is highlighted as a ‘game changer’ for Pakistan and is expected to herald the much needed economic and social development for the country, including the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The CPEC mega-project’s multi-sectoral framework involving the expansion of energy, industry, infrastructure, and communication networks is posited to benefit the smaller provinces including KP. This aspect is signified by emphasizing the development of proposed rail and road networks, industrial and economic zones, and foreign direct investment in KP in the wake of CPEC initiating a strong investment regime in Pakistan.

The socio-economic benefits out of CPEC projects would supposedly place KP’s backward districts in a ‘geo-economic orbit’ ushering in an era of prosperity for the region and beyond. This is particularly significant for the province of KP, which has over the last several decades seen much militancy and extremism. It has suffered disproportionately in the aftermath of the ‘War on Terror’ and has seen much of its socio-economic life disrupted. Such rising wave of militancy and radicalism is often co-related with high level of poverty and economic backwardness in KP and lack of alternative livelihoods for the youth of the province and that of bordering Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA). Such lack of livelihood opportunities translates in open and discreet support for militancy therefore, the opportunities offered through opening up of KP’s economy to growth and development under CPEC is expected to herald in much needed peace in the region.

The KP government on its part has started to rise to the occasion by setting up the Advisory Committee on Pak-China Economic Corridor to advice the Chief Minister on steps to ensure fuller participation of KP in the proposed projects and for benefitting from the same. This is being attempted in collaboration with KP Board of Investment and Trade and KP Economic Zone and Management Committee. These institutional steps are undertaken to align KP’s development priorities with CPEC projects in order to derive maximum benefits out of the ‘once in a millennium opportunity.’ Steps are also underway to operationalize the province’s mining, industrial, tourism and infrastructure projects under the broader context of CPEC. It is under the same initiative that the KP government has further proposed several projects of hydel power generation with an estimated capacity to generate 2825 Megawatt electricity to be included in CPEC. Institutional capacity building has also taken the form of creation of a special CPEC wing in the provincial government’s Planning and Development Department. For integrating the provinces’ development 1

priorities with CPEC and for attracting Chinese investment in the same, the KP government organized a ‘KP Investment Road Show’ in China in April 2017, which showcased several different projects for attracting investment by Chinese state companies. The result was a potential $ 24 billion investments under 84 Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) including agriculture, higher education, energy and power, industries, information technologies, mines and minerals, transport and roads, urban development, water, sanitation, local government and others. As against the main CPEC loan commitment, these projects are sought out as investment opportunities. These initiatives are certainly posited to open up the province to a new era of growth and development. The KP government’s attempts at building special economic zones on the CPEC Western Route is also taking note with the Federal government as the Joint Working Group on Industrial Cooperation was already looking into and analyzing the feasibility of such zones, including sharing the details with the Chinese government. In the backdrop of the debates on CPEC’s proposed benefits for Pakistan and the steps being undertaken by the Central government as well as the provincial government of KP, it is imperative to explore academically how CPEC will usher in an era of development for smaller provinces, such as KP. There is lack of in-depth research to explore and investigate the impact of this mega-project on KP.

Much of the current literature delves into such debates without scientifically exploring the details of the proposed sub-projects under CPEC and their relevant significance to the growth and development of the province of KP. This is all the more important because the KP provincial government is also visualizing and making plans for getting maximum dividends for the province out of CPEC. It is highly relevant to analyze the CPEC’s economic and social dividends for KP in the light of such proposed projects by the KP government. It is also essential to understand whether the sub-projects being proposed and executed under CPEC by the current government in KP are in the right direction. The understanding developed would also help to dispel the impression of denial of CPEC’s economic benefits to the smaller provinces of Pakistan and would help to restore an environment of trust between the centre and the provinces. This will go a long way in strengthening the Federation of Pakistan and ensuring that the smaller provinces get a profound sense of participation in and benefitting from the proposed development projects of CPEC.

In the backdrop of such interesting developments, China Study Centre, University of Peshawar is organizing a national conference on January 23, 2018 at 9.30 am at SSAQ Auditorium, University of Peshawar. The purpose of the conference is to academically explore and generate a discourse on CPEC’s potential peace and development dividends for the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan. The subthemes of the proposed Conference include:

  • The nexus between Peace and Development ‘One Belt One Road’ and Pakistan
  • Gendering Socio-Economic debates under CPEC
  • CPEC: Potential Socio-Economic Dividends for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)
  • KP Government’s Vision and Mission for CPEC
  • Energy and Infrastructure Development under CPEC
  • Potential problems and hurdles
  • Regional dynamics and potential integration under CPEC
  • The Borderland, FATA, trade, livelihood and CPEC
  • Terrorism, Militancy and the CPEC potential
  • Globalization, regional integration and growth: The Case of CPEC
  • Politics of CPEC: Smaller provinces, participation in CPEC and Federation
  • Gwadar and CPEC

Entry by Registration

Registration Free: For those who are interested in attending the conference, kindly register through email (given below). The Committee will send invitation letters to selected participants after a review.

Chief Organizer                                      

Prof. Dr. Zahid Anwar
China Study Centre,
University of Peshawar, Peshawar  
Phone: +92-91-9216606

Conference Organizers

Dr. Shahida Aman
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science

Dr. Minhas Majeed
Assistant Professor
Department of International Relations

Dr. Anwar Saeed
Assistant Professor
Department of Geography

Dr. Muhammad Sajid
Assistant Professor
Department of Geology