BEIJING: Minister for Planning, Development & Reform and Interior Professor Ahsan Iqbal on Friday said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the most important pillar of Belt and Road Initiative and due to commitment and sincerity from both Pakistan and China, the vision of CPEC was fast translating into reality.
The minister made these remarks during his meeting with Vice Chairman National Development Reforms Commission (NDRC) Ning Jizhe here.
He said work on CPEC projects had seen positive progress over the past five years in Pakistan. Pakistan has achieved 5.8% GDP growth rate which is highest in the last eleven years and growing.
“We have almost overcome energy crisis which was daunting our economy. With growing cooperation of both countries and particularly inclusion of space technology, the old phrase that our friendship is higher than Himalayas must be changed. Pakistan and China friendship is now higher than stars” he added.
The minister said the operationalization of Energy Projects in Sahiwal and Port Qasim is a testament of the high speed with which CPEC projects have been completed. KKH and Multan-Sukkur highway projects are progressing well and would contribute significantly towards upgrading Pakistan’s transportation infrastructure.
ML1 railways up-gradation project, connecting Peshawar to Karachi, formed an important part of CPEC’s development portfolio and it would benefit people, especially along the route and significantly contribute to economic and social development of Pakistan with improved and high speed railway logistics, he added. Ahsan Iqbal apprised Vice Chairman, NDRC about other CPEC projects including in the fields of Infrastructure, Energy, Gwadar and Special Economic Zones.
Minister Ahsan Iqbal emphasised for the fast completion of Gawadar projects, particularly 5 million gallon per day water desalination plant & early approval of Khuzdar-Basima and D.I.Khan -Zhob-Quetta highway projects. He proposed that Joint Working Groups of CPEC in energy, infrastructure, planning, and agriculture should meet next month to fast track approval of the projects.
He emphasized the importance of cooperation in the field of Digital Economy in wake of the emerging fourth industrial revolution and proposed to establish a new Joint Working Group on Digital Economy. The Chinese side appreciated the idea and agreed in principle. It was decided that cooperation in Agriculture sector would be expanded in the light of Long Term Plan to boost agricultural productivity of Pakistan.
Minister Ahsan Iqbal highlighted the need for promoting two-way trade and proposed establishment of an experts committee to work for promotion of exports from Pakistan to offset pressures from import of plant and machinery in CPEC projects. He also underscored the need for greater procurement from local market, wherever competitive goods and services were available in Pakistan, Vice Chairman agreed with the proposal.
It was agreed that the benefits of CPEC will touch all regions and provinces of Pakistan as envisioned by the leaders of both countries.
In this respect, Ahsan Iqbal proposed an early implementation of projects approved in 6th JCC meeting. Minister Iqbal invited Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe to visit Gwadar in May 2018 to attend the ground breaking ceremony of International Airport and 5 million gallon water de-salination project.
Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe said that he was extremely pleased to meet Minister Iqbal in Beijing. He appreciated Mr Iqbal’s contribution towards making CPEC successful and expressed the hope that as an experienced counterpart in CPEC, Minster Iqbal will be a big help for him.
The Vice Chairman said that Pakistan-China were all weather strategic cooperative partners and the relationship was becoming stronger with the progress on CPEC. He recalled his meeting with Minister Iqbal two years ago in Boao Forum and expressed great happiness that he would be now working with him as a team member on CPEC with him.
He said that NDRC would double its efforts to finalize the projects of CPEC. Vice Chairman, NDRC accepted the invitation to lead a high level delegation to Pakistan.
The meeting was characterized by brotherly warmth and friendship which signifies the relations between Pakistan and China.
Ambassador of Pakistan to China, Masood Khalid, Hassan Daud PD CPEC and senior officials from the Embassy of Pakistan and NDRC were present during the meeting.