Shaukat Aziz lauds Belt and Road Initiative as “game-changer for the world.”

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BEIJING, May 15 (APP): Former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said on Sunday that Belt and Road Initiative will be a game changer for the world -not just for one or two countries, because it will set the tone transcending many cultures, borders and ideologies.
Aziz who is here attend the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation told the Chinese media that the concept of the Belt and Road was about “sharing and caring” about China’s neighbors and “countries that believed in peace, progress and prosperity.”
“If you have peace, progress and prosperity or make efforts towards that, you will find the world to be a better and safer place,” he said. “Getting different cultures and geographical areas together was what the world needs most.”
China and Pakistan launched a comprehensive cooperation plan under the BRI when President Xi visited the South Asian country in 2015. Xi called for a “1+4” cooperation structure with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as the center and the Gwadar Port, transport infrastructure, energy and industrial cooperation as four key elements.
A total of US$46 billion Chinese investment was pledged then.
He explained the economic rationale behind massive Belt and Road projects, adding, any development plan must necessarily take into account the return on investment, but not all the return has to be in cash or tangible.
“The thrust of the Belt and Road Initiative was infrastructure, and infrastructure was an enabler, a way of getting maximum benefit from your economy.”
Shaukat Aziz said better infrastructure could lead to more trade, jobs and investment. Therefore instead of eyeing only tangible “financial returns,” the BRI looked at the holistic “economic return”—including better education for people in countries involved—that could eventually boost the economy of a country.
He also said that lending institutions under the initiative, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, should make rigorous analysis of borrowers as any development institution would do.
“Nobody was saying that this was a charity programme; it’s not. It was a very well-thought-out, holistic, out-of-the-box new way of looking at development globally and regionally.”
Aziz also praised the Chinese leadership for proposing the BRI. “This concept showed that the leadership of China—President Xi and his team—believed in not just growing China but also growing other countries in the region and in the world.”
“To me, this initiative manifested the quality and strength of the Chinese leadership. They had a vision, they had been consistent about it and now they were taking it to the next level.”