Keeping in view the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in terms of regional connectivity, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on May 19, 2016 performed the groundbreaking of the Pakistan-China Optical Fibre Cable project.
Firstly, the agreement in this regards was signed between both countries in 2007 but under the serious efforts of current government the fiber optic project become part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
In this regard’s the agreement to lay optic fibre between the two sides was signed during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif official visit to China in early July 2013 and Huawei has been assigned the task in this regard.
The Optical Fibre Cable project, costing $44 million will be completed in two years and Special Communication Organisation (SCO) will lay 820-kilometre-long cable from Rawalpindi to Khunjrab.
Government believes in “Digital Pakistan”; Chinese cooperation and collaboration will help us to materialize this vision of accelerated digitization.
Pakistan will greatly benefit in terms of security and revenue from the Pak-China optic fibre project, which is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Upon completion, the project, which will provide an alternate telecommunication route between Pakistan and China, will also bring 3G and 4G connectivity to the region.
Pakistan is currently connected with the world through four undersea fibre optic cables. These include India-Middle East-Western Europe (I-ME-WE), Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3 (SEA-ME-WE-3) and Southeast Asia-Middle-East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE-4), operated by Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) and TWA-1, which is owned by Trans-World Associates.
A fifth undersea cable called South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe (SEA-ME-WE)-5 is being laid to connect Pakistan with the rest of the world “
From Pak-China optic fiber project, Pakistan will get enormous benefits. At present, Pakistan’s international connectivity with the world is through undersea cables SEA-ME-WE 3&4 and IMEWE, and Pakistan is connected through spurs only.
This dependency is not only a risk but also entails security concerns. The voice/data and internet traffic can be monitored and disturbed easily. To offset such a threat, through this project, a link will be created between Pakistan and Trans-Asia Europe (TAE) cable in China, which would enable both Pakistan and China to have alternative routes for their international telecom traffic.
Successful implementation of the project would provide Pakistan with a direct telecom access to China and the Central Asian States.
On completion, the project will also facilitate trade, tourism and IT awareness in the region and generate economic opportunities particularly in Gilgit-Baltistan.