BEIJING, April 26 (APP):Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has opened new horizons for Pakistan, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz Friday said.
“The BRI is an excellent initiative by China to expand economic cooperation between countries and Pakistan has benefited from it. We, now, have more road networks going all the way up for boosting the economic activities,” he told the Global Times on Friday.
“This happening is based on need. There is no concept of creating trade country to country,” he said.
Pakistan was one of the first countries to join the BRI after it was proposed in 2013. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an ongoing mega project which aims to connect Gwadar Port in southern Pakistan to northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, is the linchpin of China-Pakistan BRI cooperation.
Various CPEC projects have provided direct job opportunities to around 75,000 people across Pakistan, and it is estimated that 700,000 more will be created by 2030. Yet controversies have been raised in terms of the way, the BRI has been developed.
After becoming prime minister, Imran Khan constituted a nine-member committee to evaluate CPEC projects, leading many to believe that Pakistan would rethink its role in the BRI.
Nonetheless, during Khan’s visit to China in November, the two sides reiterated their commitment to the CPEC and it was agreed that the CPEC would expand to include social development programs.
Moreover, his attendance at the second Belt and Road Forum is also seen as a measure of Pakistan’s firm support for this initiative.
A recent assessment of the BRI published by the International Financial Forum, an independent, non-profit and non-governmental international organization founded in Beijing in 2003, listed changes in government as a potential risk to the implementation of the BRI.