EX-PM Shaukat Aziz says CPEC to have significant economic impact on region

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NEW YORK, June 29 (APP): The $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a reflection of expanding cooperation between the two friendly neighbours and will have a significant economic impact on the region, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Tuesday.

“It’s the best thing that has happened to Pakistan, ” Aziz told a large audience at Asia Society, where he introduced his book “From Banking to the Thorny World of Politics”.

The CPEC is aimed at promoting connectivity across Pakistan with a network of highways, railways, and pipelines accompanied by energy, industrial, and other infrastructure development projects to address critical energy shortages needed to boost Pakistan’s economic growth.

Eventually, the former prime minister said, the CPEC will facilitate trade along an overland route that connects the Chinese city of Kashgar to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, with goods flowing in both directions.

Aziz spoke at length about the “very, very good” Sino-Pakistan relations, saying they had stood the test of time. The ties between the two countries were devoted to mutual benefits, not directed against any one.

Aziz’s book, written with Sunday Times journalist Anna Mikhailova, offers an analysis of the relationships between Pakistan and the U.S., India, Afghanistan and China, and provides an insider’s account of his controversial decision to join General Pervez Musharraf’s military government in 1999.

He said the book is designed to provide food for thought. One of his key recommendation is for Pakistan to have a presidential system, instead of the parliamentary form of government. Under presidential system, the directly elected president can pick the best available talent for his or her cabinet, with a mandate to transform the country.

He cited the success of presidential system in several countries, especially in South Korea and Singapore.

About the foreign policy challenges currently facing Pakistan, Aziz said there were always ups and downs in relationship but the Pakistani government was working hard to deal with a very complex situation.

“The government is doing its best,” he added.

Aziz said Pakistan should continue to engage and communicate with countries such as the US, India and Afghanistan.