- After 10th JCC meeting on CPEC, federal minister says need for security measures has grown as Chinese investment is increasing in Pakistan
Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said on Thursday that despite many challenges, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was progressing successfully as many projects under the corridor have been completed under their set deadlines.
The planning minister was addressing a press conference in Islamabad after a meeting of the 10th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on CPEC.
“The CPEC cooperation successfully stood test of time during the pandemic and work on all projects continued mainly due to the resolute commitment of the top leadership of both the countries,” he said.
The federal minister said that it was a matter of pride that Phase-I had been completed successfully. The first phase was focused on the development of energy, communication, and infrastructure projects.
Phase-II, he said, was also successfully underway which offers a broader scope of cooperation between Pakistan and China. "This phase is focused on accelerated industrial cooperation, trade, agriculture, and socio-economic development," Umar said.
Umar said the industrial zones of Rashakai and Allama Iqbal Industrial City in Faisalabad show that the project is heading in the right direction.
The federal minister said that progress was also being made on the development and operationalisation of Gwadar port and free zone. "The development is a reflection of the optimism we have had in the future of CPEC, particularly industrial cooperation," he added.
The minister said that the CPEC South Zone of Gwadar was more or less complete, while the Prime Minister had recently inaugurated the North Zone, which is around 37 times larger than the South zone of Gwadar.
Talking about investment in CPEC, he said in addition to China, Pakistan would also welcome investments from other countries in the project.
He said, learning from Chinese experiences, the government had shifted the focus of development towards underdeveloped areas to bring them at par with developed regions of the country.
Umar said that the government was also investing substantial resources on its own for CPEC projects on the Western route. He said many development projects are underway in Balochistan to make Gawadar an effective port.
The planning minister said Phase-II of CPEC is also putting special focus on the development of agriculture and livestock, which he said had tremendous potential.
He added that there is a dire need to develop the Pakistan's agriculture sector to help farmers and low-income families earn higher incomes.
“Agriculture is what we need today and for the future, we need to develop science and technology infrastructure to usher in a new era," he said.
Talking about security issues, the minister said that Chinese investment in Pakistan was increasing and along with it, the need for security measures has also grown.
Umar said that since the last JCC, the world has changed a lot due to the impact of Covid-19.
“It is a matter of satisfaction that both [China and Pakistan] countries have been able to deal with the pandemic in an effective manner,” he said.
He lauded China's support, terming it unprecedented at a time when all other countries were prioritising their own citizens in providing vaccines.
"China provided much needed support to Pakistan to combat Covid-19," the planning minister said.
He also congratulated governments and peoples of both Pakistan and China on the completion of 70 years of diplomatic relations and on the completion of 100 years of Communist Party of China.
Earlier, SAPM on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Khalid Mansoor said that the government has started a discussion with China to resolve the repayment of $3 billion CPEC investment becoming due, in a win-win situation for both the countries.