Should we care if China uses CPEC to increase trade with India?

When I was growing up there was a boy who lived near us who one day received a very special gift. It was a toy that all of us had wanted, but no one had. It was very expensive and no one’s family had the extra money to buy such a luxury. He was given the gift by an uncle who was visiting from overseas, and it made him the star of the whole neighborhood. Only one condition was given that he had to share the toy with his sister. When the uncle first mentioned this the boy nodded but wasn’t really listening. He was completely entranced by the toy and wasn’t really paying attention. But soon, his father reminded him: Beta, that toy is not just for you. You must let your sister enjoy it, too. The boy’s eyes darkened. No, he thought, this is MINE. After another week had passed, his father told the boy to go and fetch the toy and bring it for his sister to play with. The boy stood still, pretending as if he hadn’t heard. His father repeated and this time the tone was clear: If you do not get the toy now, I will get it myself and give it to her. The boy looked down and turned to go get the toy while his sister stood grinning with pleasure. Soon, he returned. A dark look on his face, and his hands behind his back. His father smiled, ‘Good boy. Now let her play with it some.’ His sister reached out and the boy brought his hands from behind his back. In his palms were the smashed pieces of the toy. He poured them on the ground and turned his back.

I was reminded of this tale when I read today that Senators have been discussing their fears that China may use CPEC to enhance trade with India also! Since day one, CPEC has been predicted to be an economic game changer for Pakistan. It has already provided a much needed boost to investor confidences as well as calming some fears of important international organizations like IMF. Not only this, but it has renewed a sense of hope for the future that was missing since long. CPEC is not an economic miracle, and there are still details to be worked out and concerns to be addressed. But one of those concerns should not be whether or not India gets some benefits from it too! We must stop looking at issues from a ‘zero sum’ strategy where anything good for India is bad for Pakistan. If CPEC is good for Pakistan, that should be our only concern. If someone else benefits too, it does not harm us.

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