Islamabad: Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said that the message for detractors of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was crystal clear as this project was an agenda of mutual prosperity not just for Pakistan and China but for the entire region.
Ms Janjua further said China and Pakistan stand shoulder to shoulder in developing CPEC on the agreed timelines.
“We are fully aware of the challenges being faced in development of CPEC. Our eastern neighbour has publicly announced its opposition to CPEC but their grounds of opposition are baseless. Their opposition to development and prosperity for Kashmiris is appalling. They seem nervous at the possibility of dividends CPEC would bring for Pakistan” Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said in her key note address in a conference on CPEC organised by Pakistan Council on China (PCC) here on Wednesday.
“We will continue to march ahead with complete determination ignoring the negative voices and forcefully responding to any threat to CPEC,” she added.
Without naming any country, the Foreign Secretary said that Pakistan was conscious of the concerns raised by others questioning the viability of this project and its implications for Pakistan. “This strong opposition is not just targeted against Pakistan but is also aimed at striking at the heart of China Pakistan friendship” she added.
It reflects a growing concern about a rising China, she observed and added “we should therefore expect an increase in this chorus of negativity and criticism”. The Pakistani nation, Foreign Secretary said, stands united in overcoming all challenges and CPEC enjoys support in all provinces as all of us are working in unison to implement CPEC projects.
Our message to detractors is thus clear, she said and added that CPEC is a recipe for our economic development, enhanced trade and energy security and a model of win-win cooperation for all the countries in the region. As our region becomes more interconnected and prosperous, we would be able to find common solutions for peace, prosperity and well being for the entire region, she further said.
She invited the critics of CPEC to look at the history of Pak China friendship which is based on mutual respect and non intervention.
Connectivity, she said, is not just connected countries and businesses but it is mainly about connected people and nations. “As we connect Xinjiang with Gawadar and Karachi, we are not only connecting two nations but on much broader scales, two regions, which in turn will provide links to the Middle East on one side and Europe and the rest of the world on the other.
China’s Deputy Mission Chief Lijian Zhao said in his address that the financing arrangement for Pakistan Railways Mainline-1 (ML-1) from Peshawar to Karachi would be done by end of this calendar year which would help to increase speed of train from 50 to 80 kilometer per hour to 160 to 180 km per hour after up gradation.
He said that around 100 delegates of NDRC recently visited Pakistan for discussing establishment of nine industrial parks in different parts of the country, Gawadar development and up gradation of ML-1.
He said the CPEC as pilot project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is now on the earliest, fastest and effective projects among all projects of BRI. “Now 19 early harvest CPEC projects are either completed or under smooth construction with total contract amount of $18.5 billion,” he added.
The Sahiwal Coal Project, he said, was completed in 22 months which made new record as Pakistan speed and would add 1,320 MW electricity into national grid. The Port Qasim coal fired plant will be completed this year.
Three new quay cranes stood at Gwadar port which will activate cargo handling capacity of the port, he said and added that four industrial units of Gawadar Free Zone would be completed next year.
The long term plan of the CPEC, he concluded, would be finalised this year which would set the direction of CPEC in future