Priya Sajjad

priya sajjad

DPhil Student

Green Templeton College

Thesis: Governing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: An Ethnography of Bureaucracy in Pakistan

Research: I am interested in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and how it unfolds in bureaucratic structures in Pakistan. China’s $1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as the New Silk Road, aims to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe to China via trade corridors and shipping lanes. One of the flagship projects of the BRI is the $62 billion CPEC, China’s largest overseas investment to date. This mega infrastructure project links the Gwadar Port of Balochistan to China’s western province of Xinjiang, through a network of railways, highways, and pipelines, and from Gwadar connects China to the rest of the world. The CPEC, however, is grander than a network of infrastructure projects that connects China to global economies. Local, regional and international scholars and policy makers conceive the CPEC to be ‘game changing’ for Pakistan, as it brings about social, economic, political and environmental transformations in the country. On one hand, the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform in Pakistan has time and time again assured that the CPEC is an apolitical project with community engagement and equity at the core of the project’s design. On the other hand, the CPEC has widely been criticised by experts for not being transparent and benefitting only the Chinese and the ruling party of Pakistan. My research project therefore ethnographically explores the bureaucratic structures and decision-making practices related to the CPEC. It attempts to understand the state’s efforts towards attaining the ideology of transparency and accountability and identifies the tradeoffs of these concepts with conventional bureaucratic functioning.

Other research interests: bureaucracy, nationalism, development, infrastructure, policy, social justice