Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing has ruled out a slowdown in the projects falling under the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and said they were set to get a new push.
“There is no slowdown of CPEC as its foundation is solid and direction is set for the beginning of a new stage of CPEC,” Yao said in his address at the Friends of Silk Road seminar organised by Pakistan-China Institute on Sunday.
Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar was the guest of honour at the seminar which was attended by scholars, intellectuals, former diplomats, parliamentarians and representatives of Chinese companies.
Yao said that the Chinese government was working very closely with Pakistan government and had identified three key areas to promote the CPEC.
“These include Special Economic Zones with focus on Rashakai and preference will be given to the private sector, agriculture and a special agricultural expo will be organised later in October in Islamabad and Lahore, with a focus on fisheries,” he said, the Nation reported.
The third area is social sector development where 27 projects in six areas are being fast-tracked, courtesy the grant of $1 billion by the Chinese government.
“The CPEC is running according to our satisfaction and there is no slowdown in the CPEC,” he said.
Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar announced that government has decided to go ahead with ML-1 mega project for Pakistan Railways which will lead to dualisation and upgradation of railway tracks from Peshawar to Karachi, the biggest modernisation of Pakistan Railways since independence.
He also said that the CPEC is also above any political divide and eventually 80 per cent of electricity will be generated by the CPEC energy projects.
He also announced that the legal framework of Gwadar Free Trade Zone is ready. A Pakistan-China Business Council is being established and an apex body — CPEC Authority — is being established “to push CPEC forward”.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed in his speech termed the CPEC a “success story” because of the strong and unshakeable framework of Pakistan-China relations. He said it had helped revive dead projects like Gwadar port and Thar Coal Project, improved physical connectivity, given Pakistan strategic space both in regional and world politics and provided employment to 70,000 Pakistanis while 20,000 new scholarships for Pakistani students are in offing for the next three years.
He thanked China for supporting Kashmir at the UN and said that Pakistan too supports China fully on the issue of Hong Kong and rejects foreign interference as Hong Kong is an internal matter of China, pertaining to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
He said the CPEC, like Kashmir and the nuclear programme, enjoys national consensus above party lines.