Time ripe to get benefit as CPEC making tremendous progress: Ahsan

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ISLAMABAD, Sept 19 (APP): Minister for Interior Prof Ahsan
Iqbal on Tuesday said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
was making tremendous progress with the completion of infrastructure
and energy projects and time was ripe to get benefits from the major
initiative.
The Chinese investment, technology and Pakistani location with
low production cost combined together made a winning combination, he
said while addressing a national conference here on ‘Changing Security
in South Asia and Development of CPEC’. Islamabad Policy Research
Institute (IPRI) and Hanns Seidel Foundation organized the two-day conference.
The minister said through various energy projects power shortage would be overcome, which was the first prerequisite of industrial development.
“The present government has ensured generation of 10,000 MW
electricity as compared to 16,000 MW, which was generated during
66 years. The energy security would ensure economic security for the
country,” Ahsan Iqbal, who is also Minister for Planning Development
and Reforms, said.
“In the past, the country was facing 20-hour long electricity
shortages. Now electricity is available 20 hours a day.”
Ahsan Iqbal said development and improved standard of living
was not possible without peace, stability and harmony. The world had
entered the information age and countries were competing for
economic ascendancy.
“If there is a conflict, then the development process gets
stalled,” he maintained.
He said the second requirement of industrial development was
strong infrastructure and in coming years the Gwadar port would also
have further improved infrastructure through road and modern
airport.
As for peace and security, a requirement for industrial investment
and development, he mentioned that the government had taken solid
steps to improve the security situation in the country.
Ahsan Iqbal said with the momentum of CPEC a world
of opportunities had opened up setting fundamentals of industrial
cooperation between Pakistan and China, fast in place.
“Pakistan was committed to peace in the region and would not
allow anybody to use its soil for terrorism,” he said and added the government was working in coordination with other governments to
promote regional peace.
He said only a strong economy with favourable environment
would ensure development and prosperity.
The minister said Pakistan had defeated terrorism and now its
economy, sports activities and tourism were being revived.
He said Pakistan was on the path of recovery, contrary
to 2013, when security situation was not well, but now there was
renewed optimism and energy.
He said as a developing country, Pakistan needed to harness
its human and natural resources. It needed to make speedy progress
by enhancing cooperation.
He said the future belonged to those who blended science with
economy and focused on innovation and creativity for achieving
development.
Describing the opportunities in Pakistan, he said with a
large middle income population, Pakistan was an attractive choice
and explained the available opportunities in different sectors of
economy.
He highlighted their potential to create employment at
grass-roots level and asked Chinese businesses to join joint ventures
to make win-win platforms for both themselves and Pakistani
businessmen so as to develop and maintain goodwill by more mutual
and partnership based relationship.
Ahsan Iqbal said CPEC should not be made controversial as it
would bring about sustainable prosperity in Pakistan as well as the
region.
He said there could not be sustained economic growth and
development in an environment riven by deep mistrust and long-
standing disputes and conflicts. South Asia needed to follow the
Chinese ambitions of mutual development and common interests in
order to give impetus to vision of shared destinies if the region
wanted to become peaceful and prosperous.
Through CPEC, he added, South Asia would cease to be
a corridor of conflict and become a corridor of cooperation.
“But for this we need to continue engagement at all levels
and remain firmly resolute in our commitment to peace,” he said,
adding CPEC was a collaborative project between the two most
reliable partners in the world – Pakistan and China – especially
given their time-tested friendship.
The minister said think-tanks, academics, business leaders
around the globe were engaged in discussing CPEC, which reflected
its true potential and importance. South Asians needed to come
together and create an enabling environment to embrace security and
well-being which CPEC was offering.
Under the Vision 2025, he said, the Government of Pakistan had
envisaged the country as a hub of trade, commerce and
connectivity. “Critics may argue that the government is just
building roads, but in reality everything whether it is health
services, education, or business needs better connectivity without
which nothing is possible.”
In the past, it took two days to travel from Gwadar to
Quetta, its own provincial headquarter, and now with the expressway,
it took eight hours, he remarked.
Pakistan, he said, must learn from China which gave zero space
to internal conflicts and focused on political and economic stability.

Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong said
as a flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC had
entered the stage of early harvest.
“Presently, 19 projects are under construction or completed
with a total investment of US $ 19 billion. The CPEC projects have
directly created thousands of local jobs. Chinese enterprises always
lay emphasis on training the youth talents and actively provide
training opportunities,” he said.
Ambassador Sun Weidong said CPEC was the best reflection
of the Silk Road Spirit, featuring peace, cooperation, openness,
inclusiveness, mutual learning and prosperity. It was a crucial
pilot project of the Belt and Road initiative since it had
become a leading demonstration in the promotion of B&R as it now
entered full implementation stage, making smooth and satisfactory
progress.
The ambassador shared that CPEC had cross-border consensus
from people of both sides because it followed principles of mutual
partnership and peaceful development. He explained that CPEC followed
`a new type of international relations based on win-win cooperation
by forging partnerships of dialogue with no confrontation, on the
basis of friendship rather than alliances.
China, he stressed, wanted to actively promote policy synergies
rather than Cold War doctrinal divisions.
Providing data on China’s future contributions to the world
in next five years, he said his country was expected to import
goods worth USD 8 trillion, attract foreign investment worth
USD 600 billion, and at the same time would be investing USD 750
billion in other countries.
China and South Asia with their collective population of
3 billion people, he said, would be the largest emerging market in
the world and with the blueprint of CPEC finally becoming a reality
with unprecedented development in four years. The early harvest
projects were now reaching fruition and growing like bamboo shoots
across Pakistan, he said.
Welcoming delegates to the conference, IPRI President
former ambassador Abdul Basit said peace was sine qua non for
sustainable development, and Pakistan had always strived for and
continued to strive for normal relations with all its neighbours.
“Our First Neighbour Policy is driven by national desire to
move from conflict management to conflict resolution. History tells
us that we cannot build a sustainable and balanced regional
cooperative framework on unpredictable and tenuous bilateral
relations,” he said.
He expressed the hope that the deliberations would lead
to improved understanding of the changing security situation in
South Asia and help create synergies for a peaceful region.
In his opening remarks, Omer Ali from the Hanns Seidel
Foundation (HSF), co-organizer of the conference, pointed out that
CPEC had put Pakistan in a much stronger negotiating position
globally. It was likely to increase direly needed cooperation
with other neighbouring countries as it would raise many
secluded layers of society from abject poverty, he added.
In the session on `Geopolitics of the Region and
Development of CPEC’ chaired by former ambassador Inamul Haque,
Dr Farhan Hanif Siddiqi of the Quaid-i-Azam University reviewed
the geo-politico-economic trends of South Asia vis-a-vis CPEC.
He pointed out that the world was witnessing a `cult of the
offensive’ at the geo-political level and in midst of such seemingly
intensifying agendas, CPEC presented a radical break and opportunity
to steer South Asia in the direction of mutual cooperation through
economic inter-linkages.
He said South Asia could not afford to continue on the
path of confrontation and hostility if it wanted to become a
powerful economic bloc.
Professor Dr Syed Rifaat Hussain of National University of
Sciences and Technology (NUST) opined that South Asia was no
longer a subordinate system as it had gained greater autonomy.
Discussing the Chinese perspective about South Asian
security and CPEC, Dr Fazal-ur-Rahman of National Defence
University (NDU) cautioned that Pakistan should not expect Chinese
support on issues that go beyond Pak-China relations, and to be
mindful that geo-economic projects are likely to have geo-political
consequences.
In his presentation on `CPEC: Pakistan’s Vision of Maritime
Security’, Adm (retd) Asaf Humayun, former Director General,
National Centre for Maritime Policy Research at the Bahria
University, Karachi, outlined that the issues surrounding protection
and use of oceans were transboundary in nature and required strong
cooperation.
International Islamic University Rector Prof Dr Muhammad
Masoom Yasinzai spoke on `CPEC: An Engine to Human Resource Development
in Pakistan’.
He recommended that Pakistan’s institutions of higher
learning needed to become more relevant and update their syllabi and
even faculty capacities to bridge the human capacity gaps in areas
like civil engineering especially railways and tunnels, electrical
& instrumentation engineering, architectural planning, supply chain
management & business incubation experts, transportation &
logistics, industrial electronics, and energy.
Dean, School of Social Sciences, NUST, Prof Dr Ashfaque Hasan
Khan said Pakistan’s leadership needed to focus on human capital
development, particularly towards the institutions of higher
learning. He suggested that a pool of skilled manpower in the
country in general and Balochistan in particular needed to be
generated.