Feature: CPEC opens job opportunities for unemployed Pakistanis, bringing long-lasting tangible benefits to locals
by Kaswar Klasra
ISLAMABAD, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) — Life of Asif Raza, a Pakistani commerce graduate, was suddenly changed two years ago after he received a call for a job interview from Shandong Electric Power Construction Corporation (SEPCO), a Chinese construction and engineering company that is designing and building generation and transmission infrastructure in Pakistan.
“I was not much excited after the call because I had not any reference or backing to get a job. But I went for the interview considering that Chinese company would definitely to select employees on merit,” Raza, 31 years old, told Xinhua recently.
One week after the interview, Raza was employed as an assistant manager of a department at the Sahiwal Coal Power Plant designed and constructed by the company.
“It was a pleasant surprise for me to get the job. It brought my life to stability, and now I am very happy and satisfied with my career, and it also increases my trust in China,” said Raza.
Jointly developed by SEPCO and Shandong Ruyi Technology Group Co., the 1,320 megawatt Sahiwal Coal Power Plant has already started production in May last year.
It is the first major energy project that carries the latest state of the art environment-friendly super critical technology under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which was completed and commenced full operations in a record short time.
Sahiwal power plant has provided over 3,000 direct jobs to locals, including engineers, technicians, supervisors and laborers during its construction period.
Like Raza, thousands of Pakistanis have got jobs at different projects launched under CPEC, a comprehensive package of cooperative initiatives and projects encompassing regional connectivity, information network infrastructure, energy cooperation, industries, agricultural development, poverty alleviation, tourism and financial cooperation.
Spokesperson of Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning and Development Asim Khan said that over 30,000 Pakistanis have got jobs in different projects under the CPEC which will bring more and more tangible benefits to Pakistani workers in coming days.
Chinese Deputy Head of Mission Zhao Lijian, who is the focal person of CPEC power projects, told Xinhua that around 60,000 Pakistanis are working on different Chinese projects in Pakistan, including those of projects under the CPEC.
Fawad Khalid Khan, a senior engineer working with China National Electric Engineering Company as deputy commercial manager in Pakistan, believed that at least 100,000 jobs will be created within next few years under power and infrastructure projects of the CPEC.
Zhao confirmed that Chinese government has received feasibility reports of special economic zones from the Pakistani side and it is currently evaluating it, adding that it will take some time to set up the special economic zones.
China’s investment of billions of U.S. dollars in Pakistan also brought fortune for the residents of the country’s southwest Gwadar Port, once a sleepy fishing town located on the shores of the Arabian Sea next to the Pakistan-Iran border.
Mohammad Nazeer is one of the lucky residents of Gwadar, who had been jobless for years, but finally the Chinese initiative provided him an opportunity.
“My years-long hunt for job and sufferings ended in July last year after I was appointed by Chinese as an assistant supervisor at Gwadar Port,” Nazeer told Xinhua via telephone, adding “my life has changed after getting employed. I am a glad family man because now I can afford to send my kids to school and give them good food.”
Last year, Chairman of China Communications Construction Co. Liu Qitao told media that development at Gwadar brought 20,000 direct and indirect jobs to locals.
It is expected that workforces from nearby areas will flow into Gwadar after further development of the port and an industrial zone nearby.
Rai Niaz Ahmad, former chief of an agricultural university, said that CPEC is a game changer for Pakistan and it is not only creating jobs for Pakistanis but also bringing social, economic and political benefits to Pakistan.
“CPEC is a great gift to Pakistan from its reliable friend China,” said Ahmad, suggesting the governments of Pakistan and China should extend further cooperation in the field of agriculture also.
Analysts and economists believed that China’s financial and technical input into Pakistan’s agriculture sector will be a win-win situation for both sides, as it will create tens of thousands of new jobs and multiply agrarian production of Pakistan, whose majority of population live in villages and earn from farming