Islamabad, October 21: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has bolstered the economic activity in Pakistan as the multi-billion-dollar project is creating jobs, developing underdeveloped areas and connecting the whole region, senior government officials said.
To government officials engaged with the CPEC told Covert that the CPEC had stimulated Pakistan’s economy and it was moving upwards with each passing day.
“The credit goes to CPEC. The project has covered all aspects of economy. We have jobs and economic activity. Everything is perfect for Pakistan,” said a senior Finance Ministry official.
He said Prime Minister Imran Khan was “very happy” with the progress on the CPEC projects so far. “The government is committed to complete the (CPEC) projects on time. The work is going on at fast pace,” he added.
Another official said despite COVID-19, there is “unqualified commitment of both China and Pakistan” to this flagship project within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
He said Pakistan was reaping benefits due to Iron Brother China who had shown utmost generosity. “When the CPEC is complete, we will be economically much stronger,” he remarked.
The idea of regional connectivity was first conceived during the 1950s which led to the construction of Karakoram Highway during the 1960s, an all-weather road connecting China and Pakistan, facilitating trade and overland travel. This was an extraordinary achievement given the mountainous terrain.
The CPEC project, in its present form was launched in 2015 with President Xi Jinping becoming the driving force behind the BRI. Gwadar being the end point of CPEC holds a special place with nearly $1 billion investment reserved for its development.
The port with a capacity of 70,000 tonnes ship and the 2,200 acres free trade area have been completed and handed over to China for a 43 year lease. This includes manufacturing and logistics hubs that are exempt from local and federal taxes of Pakistan.
For Pakistan and China the potential CPEC payoffs are clear. For Pakistan the CPEC brings hope of economic and political dividends. Pakistani analysts believe that deepening ties will only make Pakistan stronger. For China it is aimed at developing infrastructure to trade across Eurasia, Africa and beyond while facilitating the whole region.
Political support for the CPEC at the national level in Pakistan is now unwavering. A component of the CPEC is laying down of the new 1250-kilometre Main Line (M-1) railway from Gwadar to Khunjrab at the border between Pakistan and China and the modernisation of the British era 872-Km Karachi to Peshawar track.
When completed the railway lines would connect some of the least developed districts of Balochistan to bring them into the national economy. The industrial parks, which these railway lines will connect, will generate employment and help uplift them.
Last week, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar emphasized to enhance business-to-business linkages between Pakistan and China and facilitate enhanced investment from Chinese enterprises.
The minister chaired a consultative meeting to review the preparations for the upcoming 10th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting on CPEC in Beijing.
The meeting also agreed that new projects will be considered in the next JCC after approval including Swat Express Way Phase–II and Peshawar-D I Khan Motorway.
Asad Umar would convene follow-up meetings on industrial cooperation, agriculture, Gwadar and Socio-economic development sector to further refine the deliverables for the 10th JCC.