ISLAMABAD: To mark the 10- year celebrations of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and upcoming 12th Joint Cooperation Committee JCC, a curtain raiser event was held on Thursday at the Planning Ministry.
The event was attended by Federal Minister for Planning Development & Special Initiatives, Professor Ahsan Iqbal, Secretary Planning Commission, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Chief Economic of Pakistan. who is also Executive Director of the CPEC, Dr Nadeem Javaid, Chinese Charge d’ Affairs to Pakistan, Ms. Pang Chunxue, Chinese state owned enterprises and representatives from various ministries.
The CPEC enters a significant milestone as it celebrates a decade of remarkable achievements in fostering economic growth, infrastructure development, and regional connectivity. Under the 10-year celebrations, several events are being conducted by the CPEC Secretariat in collaboration with the Planning Ministry which include international Conference, academic sessions, cultural shows and others across the country.
Speaking at the occasion, Federal Minister for Planning Development & Special Initiatives, Prof Ahsan Iqbal said that this year marks the successful decade of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) & its flagship CPEC project.
The Minister said that when China launched its transcontinental enterprise BRI, it chose Pakistan for its flagship project named CPEC. Over the decade, the two countries have developed strong bonds in diverse fields and call themselves “iron brothers’, ” said the Planning Minister who was declared Mr CPEC by the Chinese authorities in May this year when he visited China.
Mega projects worth billions of rupees have been completed in one year which indicates the commitment of the incumbent government under the vision of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, said Ahsan Iqbal, while criticizing the previous government which delicately delayed the CPEC projects as a result Pakistan faced a problem. “The people of Pakistan will never forget the contribution of chines to make the CPEC successful,” he added, while appreciating the contribution of Chinese officials, workers to execute the CPEC during this whole journey which started from 2013 and still continues.
It is noted that since the government came into power in April last year, CPEC has been revived which remained halted by the previous government. Several projects of power, infrastructure, water and others have been completed in Gwadar which are ready for the ground breaking, said the Minister, who believed that if such projects can be completed in record time of six months then why it got delayed for four years.
Speaking at the occasion, Secretary Ministry of Planning Development & Special Initiatives, Syed Zafar Ali Shah applauded the contribution of CPEC achievements from 2015-2023. Despite challenges the incumbent government successfully completed the CPEC projects in one year, which shows the strong commitment of the Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, remarked Syed Zafar Ali Shah, who believed the CPEC is based on strategic partnership between the countries which will change the whole region.
Chief Economist of Pakistan who is also Project Director of CPEC, Dr Nadeem Javaid, highlighted the key achievements of CPEC, emphasizing the immense strides made in sectors such as energy, transportation, trade facilitation, and socio-economic development. He further recognized the valuable partnership between China and Pakistan that has enabled the successful implementation of CPEC projects and underscored the importance of continued collaboration to sustain the momentum.
Charge de’ Affair, Ms. Pang Chunxue, emphasized in her speech that the China-Pakistan relationship has profound historical roots, solid public support, and strong practical needs. Under the strong leadership of President Xi Jinping, China is steadfastly advancing the process of Chinese modernization. China will provide new opportunities for the development of countries including Pakistan, with new accomplishments in Chinese modernization, she remarked, remarked Ms Pang.
She further stated that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the BRI proposed by President Xi Jinping, and the 10th anniversary of the launch of the CPEC. With the joint efforts of both sides, CPEC has achieved fruitful outcomes covering areas of industry, agriculture, IT, disaster prevention and mitigation, etc., which made significant contributions to promoting Pakistan’s economic and social development, upgrading Pakistan’s infrastructure, improving Pakistani people’s well-being, enhancing people to people contact and deepening regional connectivity.
It is noted that so far 13 power generation projects with a total installed capacity of 8,020 MW & one HVDC transmission line with evacuation capacity of 4,000 MW have achieved their commercial operation. One energy project namely 884 MW Sukki-Kinari HPP which is expected to be completed in July 2024. In addition, 700.7 MW Azad Pattan Hydro Power projects, 1,124 MW Kohala, and 300 MW Gwadar Coal Power Project are in pipeline.
CPEC effectively helped Pakistan in improving the major transport networks from north to south and laid the foundation for a resilient infrastructure including ports, airports, roads and railway lines.
In the early harvest projects of CPEC, six mega infrastructure projects were completed including, Havelian-Thakot section of KKH, Multan-Sukkur (M-5) Motorway, Hakla-D.I.Khan Motorway, Optical Fiber Cable, Eastbay Expressway & Orange Line Metro Train. Furthermore, on western alignment of CPEC, work on different sections is under implementations which will be completed by 2024. Since, most of these highways pass through the far-flung areas of Pakistan, it has opened those areas for business which will bring prosperity.
According to the statistics, approximately 200,000 direct jobs have been created in the first phase of CPEC development for locals including engineers. To modernize the Pakistan Railway system under CPEC, the Main Line-1 (ML-1) project is in final negotiation. This project will help in upgradation and dualization of 1733 km of railway track from Peshawar to Karachi.
CPEC is also playing a significant role in enriching people to people connectivity. Before Covid-19, approx. 28,000 Pakistani students were studying in China in various disciplines, which shows a strong lobby of goodwill Ambassadors. Studying and training in China is an important opportunity for future researchers to gain firsthand knowledge of Chinese culture, business models and practices. Moreover, China is also extending a large number of scholarships besides training programs.
The ancient Silk Road, which changed the destiny of this region in the distant past, has already been re-constructed, making it possible to take our exports to China by road. The Gwadar port is already functional, though much more work is required to bring it up to the international standards. Newly constructed roads are there on the ground; drive from Gwadar to Quetta to witness the bloom in the desert as ancient communities surrounding the roads prepare for the windfall created by availability of quick transport to major cities.