KARACHI - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Monday said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would not only bring prosperity to the country but also enable the neighboring states to benefit from it.
Inaugurating CPEC Summit and Expo 2018 organised by Ministry of Planning Development & Reforms, the prime minister said: “Pakistan will use the corridor not only for its own prosperity but also enable neighboring states like China, Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics to benefit from the trade route.”
The prime minister said CPEC was almost an unknown name a few years back, but now it has become a reality. “Thar Coal and many more energy projects have already been completed or are near completion,” he added.
Abbasi said the CPEC projects being built are based on two principles – economic viability and environmental sustainability – and “we would never compromise on these principles. “CPEC is also providing a platform to build many other side projects relating to technology, agriculture and logistics creating a chain reaction to lead Pakistan on the path of prosperity.”
He said some neighboring countries, including Afghanistan, were suspicious and critical of the project, but now they are seeing and realising its benefits.
Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said CPEC is a significant project for not only Pakistan, China and neighboring countries but also for the whole world, in terms of business opportunities. He said 43 CPEC projects most of which are related to major infrastructure and energy are in pipeline.
“We have a long history of cooperation with Pakistan. Pakistan is, was and will be our partner and trusted friend in the years to come,” said Yao Jing.
Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif who was in the city for a two-day visit also addressed the summit and said CPEC has strengthened the federation of Pakistan and has proven that it is a country where people’s money is safe.
Terming CPEC a turning point in Pakistan’s history, the chief minister said those who doubt intentions of the Chinese are enemies of Pakistan and the project’s fruits are not limited to one area or province
“Together with Sindh, Balochistan, KP, Fata and AJK, we will build a better tomorrow,” he said, adding the project is not just about roads and motorways; instead, it is aimed at connecting not only the neighbouring countries but the entire world.
Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal said CPEC is key to Pakistan’s prosperity; another golden chance has been provided by Allah Almighty to the country to rise on the world’s map as a significant economic power. He said Asia is new engine of growth and Pakistan has a great opportunity to emerge among the leaders due to its strategic location.
“On July 5, 2013, Pakistan signed MoU with China to start the CPEC journey and it transformed into an investment portfolio of USD 46 billion within a couple of years,” said Ahsan. He termed China a great friend which always helped Pakistan. “China trusted us and invested billions of dollars when no one was willing to do so, citing security and instability issues,” he added.
At least 80 million people belonging to middle class are residing on the CPEC routes and the corridor has already started to provide numerous opportunities to them to increase their income and quality of life.
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said the province is eager to gain maximum benefits from China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. “Our visionary leader Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto said in 1968 that only country in the world that has the capability of assisting Pakistan in development is China,” said the Sindh CM, adding it has been proven correct several times over the years and CPEC is yet another testament to Shaheed Bhutto’s vision.
Sukkur, Hyderabad and Karachi have been declared as key cities in CPEC project, he said, adding Sindh is the energy hub of the country as well as the only province which has issued grants for renewable energy projects. Letters of intent from 35 companies have already been issued for generation of 2,545 megawatts of power.
“Thar Coal Mining is the flagship project of CPEC, which is the game changer for Pakistan economy,” he said, adding two more coal projects are in the pipeline. US$ 500 million solar power projects have been initiated by the Sindh government while Karachi Circular Railway, Dhabeji and Keti Bandar are key projects of CPEC in Karachi, he affirmed.
The experts speaking at CPEC Summit & Expo 2018 called for setting up a CPEC advisory council to clarify vision and policies and advise the authorities how Pakistan can take maximum benefits from the project.
Former State Bank of Pakistan Governor Dr Ishrat Hussain, while chairing the first session of the summit, said the largest component of CPEC investment, USD 35 billion, has been reserved for energy projects focused on fuel substitution to coal, LNG, solar and wind power. “Power generation capacity will be doubled over the years while transmission capacity will increase from Matiari to Lahore and Matiari to Faisalabad,” he added.