ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning Development & Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal has rejected the perception that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a ‘debt trap’. He stated that stories were made to create propaganda in global geopolitics of competition.
“I don’t think it’s a ‘debt trap’ as I believe it’s a fact trap to distort the spirit of BRI,” said the Planning Minister in response to negative perceptions against the BRI, said the Minister while talking to the international media representatives on Wednesday.
“Wherever BRI has gone, the local people can testify that it has had a very positive impact.” The BRI initiative was taken for the first time in 2013, when then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif met Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang in Beijing. The focus was on connecting China with the Chinese-invested Pakistani port of Gwadar through highway, rail and pipeline infrastructure.
The Planning Minister appreciated China for extending BRI to Pakistan in the shape of CPEC that has given Pakistan a great opportunity in areas of energy, infrastructure, telecommunication, industrial cooperation and in unlocking hidden treasures like the Thar Coal Project.
The Planning Minister described the significance of the project, stating that Gwadar Port City is set to become a major trade and commerce hub in the region with its Free Zone and investment from Chinese companies. He highlighted the strategic location and potential for trade in Gwadar, stating that goods can be shipped to China through Gwadar in almost one-tenth the distance from the South China Sea.
The progress and implementation of CPEC projects have been personally supervised by the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and despite negative perceptions, the government has reiterated its commitment to completing the projects on time. The government’s top priority is to attract more private sector investment in Pakistan, particularly in the mining sector which holds tremendous potential for value addition and development, said the Planning Minister about the future developments of CPEC.
Regarding potential partnerships between Pakistani and Chinese companies, the Minister said that the government is promoting exports to third countries through joint ventures and seeking cooperation from Chinese companies to set up industries in Pakistan for joint production and export.
As the year 2023 marks the decade of CPEC and the strong partnership between Pakistan and China, both Pakistan and China will be celebrating 10 Years of the BRI and CPEC on July 5, 2023. High-level Chinese delegations are scheduled to visit Pakistan to witness the achievements made since the inception of CPEC.