A seminar on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was organised by the Shaheed Bhutto Foundation on Friday. The event was moderated by Asif Khan. Speaking on the occasion, Chief Executive Officer, Cdr Khalid Shafi (r) said that "all signs point to Pakistan at crossroads and about to embark on a journey to redefine its destiny. From an evolving narrative on terrorism, a paradigm shift in Pak-Afghan relations, historic Amendment to Article 247, electoral reforms and the Pak-China economic corridor, termed as "the game changer," Pakistan stands proud as a nation whose time has come."
Ambassador Masood Khan talked about the strategic dimensions of the corridor for Pakistan. He said that "the corridor will be a belt connecting Central Asia, Middle East and Africa". He described briefly the mega projects that are associated with this so called economic corridor-undertaking those will have far reaching ramifications for the countries involved and their standing in the international political arena. The projects will transform our production and consumption patterns and in doing so change our development path. He reiterated Xi Jinping's sentiments, while on his tour of Pakistan that we need more people to people contact.
Dr Kaisar Bengali informed the participants about the economic aspect of the corridor. He was skeptical about large scale industrial mushrooming along the corridor, as is being envisioned by many. He was of the opinion that the benefits of the corridor should be taken with a pinch of salt, however, the importance of the corridor should not be underestimated. He proposed that the governments of China and Pakistan should consider building a rail network as opposed to truck transit, as it is more economical and easier to monitor.
Afrasiab Khattak discussed the transformation of Pakistan's economy under different political regimes. He said that, Balochistan, FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had suffered the most due to the war on terror yet had received inadequate compensation. The reservation of the Awami National Party was that due importance should be given to the western route as opposed to the eastern route. Professor Saad Alam Mehsud elaborated how politics had made the route controversial.
Senator Farhatullah Babar, stated that he could not speak for the government, however, he could lay before the participants some indisputable facts. At the APC of 28th May 2015, it was decided to complete the project on priority basis and oversight would lie with a parliamentary committee. Senator Babar said that the ball is in the house of the Federation, representing all the four provinces and we will not allow anyone to deviate from the decision. The seminar was participated by representatives of the Chinese embassy, Japanese embassy, PhD students from various universities, people from the private sector, and members of the media, notably Saleem Safi, office bearers of ANP, PML-N, PPP and PTI. A delegation from FATA was also present at the seminar.-PR