APP33-14 BEIJING: May 14 - Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif addresses at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. APP

BEIJING, May 14 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Sunday said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, was open to all countries in the region and emphasized the project “must not be politicized.”
“Let me make it very clear that CPEC is an economic undertaking open to all countries in the region. It has no geographical boundaries. It must not be politicized,” the Prime Minister said in his address at the plenary session of High-level Dialogue on Belt and Road Forum (BRF), themed “Cooperation for Common Prosperity,” being held in China’s capital.
The Prime Minister called for building a peaceful, connected and caring neighbourhood by shunning mutual differences.
“It is time we transcend our differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy, and leave a legacy of peace for future generations,” he said at the BRF platform, with 29 heads of states and governments and 1,500 delegates in attendance.
The Prime Minister said peace and development go hand in hand, and nothing can pave the path for peace and security more than economic development achieved through regional collaboration.
“The OBOR signifies that geo-economics must take precedence over geo-politics, and that the centre of gravity should shift from conflict to cooperation,” he said.
The Prime Minister said OBOR could be regarded as a “powerful tool for overcoming terrorism and extremism.”
“As OBOR is unfolding across continents, it is fostering inclusion, creating tolerance, and promoting acceptance of cultural diversity,” he said,
The Prime Minister said CPEC was a core project of OBOR and had rightly been called its flagship for aiming to connect the neighbourhoods of East and West Asia.
He said CPEC made Pakistan both a conduit and destination for cross-regional investment and trade.
Terming ‘China as Pakistan’s close friend and trusted ally’, Nawaz Sharif said his participation at the Forum was to celebrate the remarkable success of the seminal initiative of ‘One Belt, One Road (OBOR)’.
He expressed confidence that the historic event would build critical pathways in the years to come for economic and financial cooperation, business-to-business collaboration, and people-to-people contacts.
He paid President Xi and the Chinese leadership his deepest tributes for their dynamic and creative leadership and said Pakistan admired China’s vision and ingenuity in developing corridors across regions.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said OBOR connected Asia, Africa and Europe, besides covering half of the world population, half of its resources, and 65 countries. International investors from all over are pouring their resources into it, he added.
He said President Xi’s initiative made win-win partnerships possible for all and accelerate economic growth in developing countries; yield dividends for international investors; and tear down barriers to trade and commerce.
Even more importantly, he said OBOR would help repair and reform global economic governance as it was not merely the revival of ancient Silk Road. Rather, a conscious and humanistic endeavour to take humankind to a higher level of prosperity, peace and stability through connectivity and close contact.
“Such a broad sweep and scale of interlocking economic partnerships and investments is unprecedented in history. We stand at the cusp of a geo-economic revolution. In fact, this is the dawn of a truly new era of synergetic intercontinental cooperation,” he remarked.
He believed that the most powerful impact of OBOR would be on the lives of poor and marginalised people, who would have higher incomes, better education and more health facilities. It would help in eradicating poverty and achieving Sustainable Development, leaving no one behind, he added.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the infrastructure, energy and industrial projects in Pakistan were moving on fast pace with many to be completed by or even before their timelines.
He expressed the optimism that “Unprecedented economic, social and cultural benefits will accrue from the CPEC – not just for the people of Pakistan, but also for the people of the entire region.”
He said his government had shaped an enabling environment for the CPEC to take off as it was producing new entrepreneurs, creating new jobs and businesses, and attracting international investment.
He said CPEC was a project owned and nurtured by all citizens of Pakistan and was fully compatible with government’s own Vision 2025, which invests country’s resources in multiple corridors of regional cooperation, including energy, industry, trade and transportation.
“In pursuance of this vision, we are also bridging the gap between economic growth and social development by focusing on poverty alleviation, education, health, and gender mainstreaming. We would tap the full potential of our youth, who constitute more than 60 per cent of our population,” the prime minister said.
He told the high profile gathering that Pakistan’s economy was doing very well with stable macroeconomic indicators, bright economic outlook, rising growth rate and Pakistan Stock Exchange was performing as one of the five best stock exchanges in the world.
“Today, I present to you a rising, confident and secure Pakistan – a Pakistan that is now increasingly perceived as a turnaround story, and a winner. It is now an emerging economy, with even greater capacity to absorb new investments and equities,” he resolved.
Nawaz Sharif emphasised that OBOR had gained wide traction as it negated the logic of polarisation and rejected the encirclement of any country.
“It is about connectivity. It is about emancipation. It moves us out of silos into shared space. The fact is that now OBOR belongs to us all – those who are participating in it and those who are not as yet,” he elaborated.
The prime minister urged the audience to sustain the OBOR with full vigour and robust political will. “Let OBOR become a metaphor for a new, mature, resilient and cooperative world. We all must keep alive the spirit of ‘One Belt One Road,’ he said.