‘Pakistan will welcome Iran, Saudi Arabia if they want to be part of CPEC’

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal said that Iran and Saudi Arabia's desire to join China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework was a good step and Pakistan would welcome their involvement.

“We will welcome both the brotherly Islamic countries if they want to be part of CPEC,” he told APP.

Pakistan, he said, would also welcome and appreciate any friendly country which desired to participate in the multi-billion gigantic flagship project of “One Road One Belt” initiative launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

CPEC, a trans-regional project, will benefit three billion people of the region through enhanced regional connectivity with Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and will play instrumental role integrating the whole region, he said.

It is a 15-year-long project to be completed in 2030 by focusing on infrastructural development, the Gwadar Sea Port, and energy and industrial cooperation, he added.

Terming CPEC as one the best and transparent projects where no transaction is directly made to government, he said that $35billion were to be utilised by the energy sector in the form of private sector investment while rest of the $11bn investment had to be made by Chinese companies in the infrastructure sector under concessional financing mode.

Work on Western Corridor was progressing in full swing, he said, reaffirming that the route would be completed by 2018, whereas the 650-km-long Gwadar-Quetta section of the route would be completed by Dec 2016. Making this route operational would allow Gwadar to be connected to Quetta and Afghanistan, he said.

The minister reiterated the government's commitment to give top priority to road projects on the western passage.

The government was funding the road projects on the western route through the Federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), Chinese financing and also through the Asian Development Bank (ADB), he added.

He said that construction work on DI Khan-Hakla 285km motorway, fully-funded through the PSDP, had already commenced by completing all the requirements including feasibility, design, land acquisition and approval in the shortest possible time.

Ahsan Iqbal said that connectivity of Gwadar to the national highway network would be established with completion of the N-85 and M-8 highway projects by December 2016. The 193km Gwadar-Turbat-Hoshab section of the M-8 has already been completed.

The Khuzdar-Basima road project has been included as a short-term project in the CPEC Transport Plan by the present government and construction work will commence soon by the National Highways Authority.

Last week, investment in the CPEC was increased to more than $51.5bn after China and the ADB agreed to lend $8bn to upgrade the main railway line from Karachi to Peshawar.

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