ISLAMABAD, Apr 7 (APP): Minister for Planning and Development
Ahsan Iqbal Friday said China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) would
allow Pakistan to become a hub of socioeconomic activity between
Asia, Central Asia and South Asia.
He was addressing the 1st All Pakistan Chambers and
Associations Seminar on CPEC held at Gawadar, Baluchistan, said a
press release issued here.
The seminar was attended by all the business and commerce
chambers of Pakistan, government officials, local community and
other major stakeholders.
The minister noted that CPEC was a fusion of China’s vision of
“One Belt and One Road” and Pakistan’s Vision 2025.
The minister remarked that CPEC would not only benefit Pakistan
and China but would also benefit the entire region and beyond.
He apprised the audience that inter and intra region
connectivity provided by CPEC makes it a fate changer for everyone
because connectivity ensures greater trade, socioeconomic activity
and general welfare.
Ahsan informed that CPEC project would result in breaking the
two bottlenecks faced by Pakistan’s economy, lack of infrastructure
and energy shortage.
He termed infrastructure and energy as the two essential pre-
requisites of development and questioned the knowledge of critics
who object to infrastructure investments in CPEC.
He further explained CPEC by breaking it down into four
components as infrastructure projects, energy projects, Gawadar Port
and industrial and economic zones.
The minister stated that historical investments were made in
infrastructure which had led to upcountry connectivity of Gawadar
for the first time.
He praised the sacrifice of 44 FWO soldiers who gave their
lives but did not allow the negative forces to sabotage the
infrastructure projects in Balochistan.
Energy mix adopted under CPEC was diverse and would produce
economical and affordable energy, he noted. Neglected coal reserves,
renewable energy, hydel and other sources of energy were explored
Ahsan categorically squashed all noises suggesting that CPEC
would lead to a loss of domestic business or employment.
He stated that proposed industrial and economic zones under
CPEC were efforts to leverage Pakistan’s comparative advantage in
labour to attract the relocating business of China in light of
engineering and labour intensive industry which could lead to
initiation of a new age of industrialization in Pakistan.
He stated that 85 million jobs were up for grabs in China due
to relocation of Chinese business who had lost their competitive
advantage because of rise in cost of operation in China, CPEC
presents an opportunity to Pakistan to grab major of share of the
available jobs which could help employ the unemployed surplus labour.
He noted that CPEC had allowed Pakistan to transform Pak-China
geo-strategic relations into geo-economic for the first time in the
CPEC was further allowing Pakistan to embrace the shift the
world saw in 20th Century from geo-politics to geo-economics,
remarked the minister.
On the above stated grounds, the minister stated that CPEC
offered unprecedented opportunities for Pakistani business.
The minister said in order to gauge the progress Pakistan
had made over the last few years it was important to draw comparison
of Pakistan of now and 2013.
He noted that 2013 saw Pakistan termed as the most dangerous
country by the global media whereas now in 2017 the same media was
calling Pakistan as the next ‘Asian Tiger.’
He pointed out that similarly in 2013 Pakistan was considered
a security risk and state was cornered by terrorists but today the
terrorists were on the run and cornered by the state, government
actions had resulted in a safer and secure Pakistan.
The minister also pointed out that energy crisis was reaching
a breaking point in 2013, timely efforts and mega investments in
energy sector under CPEC was drastically increasing Pakistan’s
capacity to produce energy.
Ahsan Iqbal hoped that CPEC could be materalised as a tool of
inclusive growth where the people of Pakistan could be the subjects of
the development process.
He thanked all the Chambers of Pakistan, Business Community at
large, people of the Gawadar, and the youth of Gawadar for extending
their trust and support to the efforts of the government aimed at
ensuring that Pakistan would rise and shine.