Published: August 23, 2017
BEIJING: The development work is in progress on Gwadar Port and it will be fully functional in three to four years, said Pakistan Ambassador to China Masood Khalid on Tuesday.
A power plant is being set up there to provide electricity to the city and the port, existing airport and highways are being expanded and more are being built.
“In three to four years, Gwadar will become a different city and Gwadar Port will be fully operational,” he said during an interview with China.org.cn.
“In fact, ships have now started arriving and they are bringing cargo and equipment for work on the port. All in all, the progress is good. We need to work faster on the airport. We need the airport as soon as possible as well as the roads,” he added.
Gwadar would contribute to the region’s economy and security, he said, adding Gwadar was an important port in terms of its location and it was very close to the Persian Gulf and the Middle East and it would link up with China.
“We already have a highway to China and we are working on upgrading and improving it, so that it can become the main artery for trade and business between Pakistan and China.”
In terms of distance and cost, Gwadar would be very competitive, said Khalid, adding, “I am confident that it will gain momentum in the years to come.”
He said the port would serve commercial and business interests of not only Pakistan, but also of China and the other countries in the region.
The ambassador shared, “In fact, we have a plan in the future to link Gwadar with Kashgar through energy pipelines and communication infrastructure.”
He said there were projects, there were jobs and the infrastructure had improved, so the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was contributing to the socioeconomic development of Pakistan and to the welfare of Pakistani people.
About the opportunities brought by the Belt and Road initiative for Pakistan’s economic and social development and cooperation between China and Pakistan, he said that during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Pakistan in 2013, an understanding was reached to create CPEC.
He emphasised that in the power sector progress had been good as work was under way on about 16 power projects to add about 10,000 megawatts of electricity by 2018.
Under this programme, some major projects have already entered service. Last month, the inauguration of the first coal-based power plant of more than 1,300 megawatts took place in Punjab. Other similar projects, also big in scale, are likely to be operational by the end of this year.
“Side by side, we are working on hydro projects, solar power projects, and wind power projects. Some of the wind power projects will also become operational soon,” he added.
He said that the government aims to overcome a power shortfall that the country has been facing for many years, which was impeding our economic development.
The ambassador said that in the last two or three years, Pakistan’s economic indicators have improved significantly, and there has been micro-economic stability in Pakistan, which has been acknowledged and welcomed by independent analysts and accrediting agencies.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2017.