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BEIJING, Oct 01 (APP): Pakistan Ambassador to China, Moin Ul Haque has said that the second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was people centric and this flagship project would directly benefit common people by creating jobs, alleviating poverty and improvement in the livelihood.

“In the second stage of CPEC, we are going into agriculture cooperation with China. Pakistan is an agricultural country and we need to modernize our agriculture system, upgrade yield of our crops and new seeds development.”

“And all we can do under the CPEC projects which will be directly befitting people of Pakistan by job creation by alleviating poverty and improving the livelihood of people,” he said while talking in ‘The Point’ a current affairs programme of China Global Television Network (CGTN).

Ambassador Haque said that CPEC since its launch in 2015 during President Xi’s visit to Pakistan had progressed very steadily. It was a very comprehensive project in the areas of infrastructure development, energy, transport, and telecommunications.

He said that the CPEC was developing smoothly and mentioned the energy sector had helped Pakistan overcome its critical needs in energy sector.

The infrastructure had improved while Gwadar was progressing well which would not only help socio-economic development in Pakistan but it would also help regional integration.

“We had shortage of electricity in last few years but now we are reaching a stage that we will have a surplus energy in Pakistan,” he added.

While dismissing an impression that the CPEC projects were progressing slow, he said that since he came here, he had been meeting with Chinese entrepreneurs and companies who were already working in Pakistan and like to expand their footprints in Pakistan and get new projects and investment.

“If there are problems with their projects, these companies would have not been keen to go to Pakistan,” he added.

He said that there were detractors of CPEC who didn’t like China’s rise and friendship between Pakistan and China so they were always opposing it.

To a question about negative environmental impact, he pointed out that Pakistan and China being signatory to the Paris climate accord attached great importance to international climate change.

“All these projects being completed under CPEC framework conformed to the those international standards,” he added.

He said that the government attached great importance to the environment and launched mega projects like 10 billion tree plantation, clean and green Pakistan and in that respect even in the CPEC, projects were very carefully executed and it was ensured that it conformed to the international standards.

On Pakistan and China relations, he said that both the countries had very a special relationship which had been nurtured over the years by the successive governments and people of the two countries. “So, no wonder that we call each others as iron brothers.”

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“This expression that our relationship or friendship is higher than mountains and sweeter than honey, we will never find such a description of any other relationship in the world. So truly it is unique relationship. We stood together in good times and bad time.”

Ambassador Haque informed that next year, both the countries would be celebrating 70 years of establishment of their diplomatic relations, adding, “We look forward to celebrating it with a very high quality and dozens of events which commensurate with special nature of relationship.”

Terming his appointment as Pakistan’s ambassador to China as great honour, he said that he would be focusing on cooperation in the areas like agriculture, industrial, IT and tourism besides other fields during his tenure.

“See how can we learn from Chinese experience and work together for a better future of the two countries in the new era as president Xi mentioned,” he added.

About cooperation between Pakistan and China during COVID-19 pandemic, he said that the pandemic came as big crisis and challenge for entire humanity so Pakistan was no exception.

He said that Pakistan had to face difficult times but now the situation was stabilizing. The government had to create balance between controlling the pandemic and at the same time had to see that needs of poor people were met.

So, the government imposed smart lockdown and provided special packages to the business and health sectors and relief to poor people.

Pakistan, he said stood with China in wake of Covid-19 and sent plane loads of all necessary items in February this year which was much appreciated by Chinese government.

He said that in March this year, President Dr. Arif Alvi visited China to express solidarity with the government and people.

When the pandemic started spreading in Pakistan, China helped in a big way by dispatching plane loads of medical supplies and equipment. Now both the countries were cooperating with each other for production of vaccine against Covid-19, adding, “We will have good news very soon.”

Ambassador Haque appreciated President Xi’s statement that whenever the vaccine would be ready it would be accessible to developing countries.

He also lauded the Chinese support which helped Pakistan meet challenge of locust invasion. “With the support of China and resilience of Pakistani people and timely decisions and measures taken by government to safeguard interest of local farmers and agriculturists, Pakistan overcame the very difficult time.”

About cooperation in the e-commerce sector, he said that Pakistan’s digital economy was progressing. “In our country, we have around 170 million mobile phone users which are almost 80 pc of our population while the internet has penetrated to a large extent.”

“We are currently using 4G in our country but we are also conducting trials for 5G and we hope to be the first country after China to have 5G. So, we are cooperating with China,” he added.

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With presence of Huawei and China Mobile and Alibaba in Pakistan, he said that the government was focusing a lot for the growth of e-commerce and forged a close cooperation with China.

He said that currently over 28,000 Pakistani students were studying in China and they were component of bilateral cooperation and people to people contact and cultural communication between the two countries.

“These students are serving as a vehicle of bringing our two countries together and nurturing this relationship for future generations and building better understanding of our two cultures.”

Responding to a question about Kashmir issue, he said that Kashmir was a core issue between Pakistan and India. It was long outstanding issue and it was still on agenda of United Nations.

There were still dozens of UNSC resolutions calling for resolution of Kashmir issue through a plebiscite and in accordance with the wishes and aspiration of people of Kashmir.

“But unfortunately, India has always refused to recognized centrality of the UN and UN resolutions and India has also rejected all the bilateral agreements between our two countries,” he added.

He said that last year in August, India took a unilateral and illegal decision about Kashmir and had gone through a brutal suppression of rights of people Kashmir through military siege which was still continued today. India which claimed to be a so-called largest democracy had never accepted rights of people of the Kashmir.

Ambassador Haque said that it was time for the international community to raise its voice to tell India to resolve this issue through peaceful means and dialogue and on basis of UN resolutions.

To a question about peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, he said that Afghanistan was very close friend of both Pakistan and China.

He pointed out the situation in Afghanistan during last four decades had impact on the peace and stability of the entire region while Pakistan was greatly affected by the situation in Afghanistan.

He said that Pakistan and China were contributing to peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan which was Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

“We will always stand by people and government of Afghanistan as they move forward to charting their future,” he added.

He said that talks going on in Qatar were historic and both Pakistan and China supported this political settlement and process. Now the leadership and people of Pakistan should seize this historic opportunity for peace, progress and stability in Afghanistan.

About the US-China relations, he said, “What is important is that we cooperate with each other. We do not seek hegemony between us and we do not take unilateral actions.”