Best Government Infrastructure Strategy, South Asia 2016
Pakistan in many ways can thank its lucky stars to be part of the latest iteration of the Great Game. In recent years China, keen to find ways to gain access to the Indian Ocean, has begun paying for the installation of highways, rail lines and power lines linking its northwestern province of Xinjiang with the Pakistani port of Gwadar.
If completed, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, set to cost an estimated $46bn, will offer China a quicker and cheaper way of importing Middle Eastern oil: it currently imports the bulk of its energy through the pirate infested Strait of Malacca. Pakistan’s premier has described the CPEC corridor as a “game changer” — and he’s right.
Chinese government funded infrastructure is beginning to spring up around the country. Chinese investors have announced plans to build new power plants worth $8.5bn, adding 5,620MW of installed capacity to the domestic grid. An integral part of the CPEC jigsaw will see Pakistan construct a 700km pipeline to import liquefied natural gas from China, thus helping to overcome years of energy shortages.
Another major transport upgrade in the years ahead will see the installation of a high-speed rail line linking Karachi and Lahore built by China Railway Corporation. An extension will then link Lahore with a dry port in Peshawar. A six lane, 1,240km highway linking Karachi with Lahore is on track to be completed in 2017 while Pakistan is also planning to build new, or upgrade existing, light rail lines in the country’s six largest cities.