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Regional Connectivity through Belt and Road Initiative: Issues and Challenges for Pakistan and Central Asia
Central Asian Republics (CARs) are landlocked, but these gained strategic importance because of their vast natural resources and export potential. Great Silk Road which links this region with global routes coming from all corners of the planet gives CARs an added advantage. Since the launch of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, CARs have become active partners in it. They have realized that their economic growth and development is linked to BRI. Pakistan provides an alternative route to China and CARs to reach Indian Ocean in the form of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is flagship project of BRI. For Islamabad, CPEC is a ‘game changer,’ allowing it to develop its transport and energy infrastructure and increase trade and connectivity. The article noticed that a lot of expectations have been pinned with CPEC and BRI in Pakistan, particularly connectivity with Central Asian region; however, success of BRI is linked to sovereignty of regional states followed by economic opportunity and stable security situation. China is trying to develop people to people contact to dismal all allegations raised by the West that BRI in the garb of development is an attempt to gain more influence in the region. The article has tried to explore the facts that CARs consider BRI as an inside out attempt with complete sense of inclusiveness.
Keywords: Central Asian Republics, China, CPEC, Regionalism, South Asia.