Islamabad, 24 January: Pakistan attaches great importance to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a national project, and is ready to pay any price for its success. The chairman of the newly created CPEC Authority Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa stated this at an exclusive session with a delegation of senior officials and researchers of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) held at the CPEC Authority’s Secretariat.
The IPS delegation comprised its Executive President Khalid Rahman, GM Operations Naufil Shahrukh, senior associates Amanullah Khan, Mirza Hamid Hasan, Dr Maliha Zeba Khan, Ambassador (r) Tajammul Altaf, Brigadier (r) Said Nazir Mohmand, and members of the Institute’s research and outreach team including Shafaq Sarfraz, Asim Ehsan, Kulsoom Belal, Wali Farooqi, Hafiz Inamullah Khan, Shahid Afzal and Maimoona Mahmood.
Briefing the delegation about the progress on CPEC, the chairman said that work on the eastern, western and central alignments is in full swing, and the second phase of the project is just beginning. He also rubbished the claims that work on phase one has slowed down, claiming nothing was on hold.
Bajwa was of the view that underdeveloped areas, especially southern parts of Balochistan were being given importance in CPEC; a dam and desalination plant have been built in Gwadar in a bid to resolve chronic water shortages affecting the inhabitants. An airport with the biggest runway of Pakistan worth $230 million was also being built in Gwadar.
Commenting on phase one of CPEC, Asim Bajwa said the first phase’s success depends on the second phase, which involves business-to-business and people-to-people contacts. He also said synergy among all stakeholders is required to make CPEC a success. In this regard, Pakistan-China Joint Chamber of Commerce & Industry was also being revived, he informed.
He stressed the need for projecting CPEC as a regional connectivity initiative to make Pakistan emerge as an economically galvanizing state instead of a security or terror-fighting state on the global spectrum. Afghan transit trade, he added, is also now being facilitated through Gwadar port.
Khalid Rahman opined that China and Pakistan both need each other to implement CPEC as the initiative’s success lies in further strengthening bilateral relations. He also underlined the importance of transparency and effective perception management for the success of CPEC to counter the nefarious designs of Pakistan and China’s adversaries at all levels.