China, Pakistan and Nation-Building
In 2015, the establishment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) solidified bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries. China, considered Pakistan's "all-weather friend," has since invested $62 billion in infrastructure and resource development projects. The CPEC, as CPD Research Fellow Zahid Shahab Ahmed writes in an analysis published in the Journal of Contemporary China, is one of six economic corridors critical to China's "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI), which aims to connect China to other Asian, European and African markets.
Ahmed highlights the impact of the CPEC on Pakistan's nation-building in addition to analyzing the impact of domestic politics on the agreement. He argues that in the process of establishing the CPEC agreement with China, Pakistan has been presented with opportunities to address inter-provincial and federal-provincial disagreement through dialogue and compromise.
"Creating a common national identity, institution-building, transparency and limited external intervention are some key features of nation-building," notes Ahmed in the study's conclusion. "As argued in this paper, all these have been reflected, albeit to varying degrees, in the context of the CPEC in Pakistan. The ethnic division is deep-rooted and reflected through trust deficits between leaders of Punjab and other provinces, such as Sindh, KP, and Balochistan, however, more transparency and justice can pave the way for promoting a collective ‘Pakistani’ identity that is shared by all citizens."
The full article, "Impact of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor on Nation-Building in Pakistan," published in the Journal of Contemporary China can be found here. Read Ahmed's CPD Blog post on the Belt and Road Initiative and China's cultural diplomacy in Pakistan here.