ISLAMABAD: The year marked the 10th anniversary of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of President Xi Jinping amid a strong commitment at the highest leadership level to further deepen cooperation between the two countries and accelerate work on the ongoing projects following completion of a number of energy, infrastructure, industrial cooperation, and social and economic development projects over the period.
Over the past 10 years, the main focus of CPEC being a pilot project of the BRI, has been on the projects in areas including energy, transport infrastructure, Gwadar port development, industrial cooperation/ special economic zones (SEZs), social and economic development projects, and the projects related to CPEC under the PSDP.
In background discussions with Chinese and Pakistani diplomats, it was learnt that both countries have reaffirmed their joint commitment to taking the vision of sustainable development under BRI to a logical conclusion with Pakistan expressing its renewed pledge to ensure the protection of all CPEC-related projects and Chinese workers.
The same was also expressed by Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch in her latest weekly media briefing, saying Pakistan is strongly committed to the protection of workers and projects under CPEC and we will continue to defend foreign nationals including Chinese and workers and Chinese projects under CPEC.
“We will defeat the designs of any terrorist entity against CPEC or against any other investment projects in Pakistan,” the spokesperson further underlined.
With the comprehensive transportation corridor and industrial cooperation between China and Pakistan as the main axis, and with concrete economic and trade cooperation, and people-to-people exchange and cultural communications as the engine, the CPEC is based on major collaborative projects for infrastructure construction, industrial development and livelihood improvement aimed at socio-economic development, prosperity and security in regions along it.
Officials of the two countries are hopeful that by 2025, the industrial system will be approximately complete, major economic functions will be brought into play in a holistic way, the people’s livelihood along the CPEC to be significantly improved, and regional economic development more balanced, as per goals envisaged in the “Vision 2025”.
Under the plan, by 2030, the endogenous mechanism for sustainable economic growth will be in place, the CPEC’s role in stimulating economic growth in Central Asia and South Asia will be brought into holistic play, and South Asia shall grow into an international economic zone with global influence.
Under the connectivity, construction of an integrated transport system transport infrastructure, these projects have been completed so far including KKH Phase II (Havelian-Thakot Section) 120 km, Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Multan-Sukkur Section) 392 km, Orange Line Metro Train–Lahore 27 km, Cross-Border Optical Fiber Cable (Khunjrab-Rawalpindi) 820-km, Pilot Project of Digital Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcast (DTMB) and Hakla-DI Khan Motorway 297-km, according to the documents of the Planning Commission.
Currently, there are five under-construction projects in the infrastructure sector which will be completed in different phases that include Zhob-Quetta (Kuchlak) (N-50) 305-km, Khuzdar-Basima Road (N-30) 106-km, Hoshab-Awaran Road Section (M-8) 146-km, KKH Alternate Route Shandur-Chitral Road 153-km, and Nokundi-Mashkhel Road 103-km.
The project under CPEC that are in-pipeline, include up-gradation and dualization of ML-1 and establishment of Dry Port near Havelian 1,733-km, up-gradation of DI Khan (Yarik)-Zhob, N-50 Phase-I 235-km, KKH Alternative Route Gilgit-Shandur Road 213-km, Realignment of KKH Phase-I Thakot-Raikot Section 250-km, Peshawar-DI Khan Motorway 360-km, Awaran-Khuzdar Road Section (M-8) 168-km, Dir Expressway 29.6-km, and DTMB-A (Digitalize the existing three sites of PTV).
The projects identified as long-term projects include Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Mansehra Road 200-km, Karachi Circular Railway 43-km, Mashkhel-Pangur Road 200 -km, Quetta Mass Transit, and Greater Peshawar Region Mass Transit. The energy sector, which is the most critical area for Pakistan to meet its requirements, BRI has helped the country in overcoming the shortages by adding over 12,000 MW of electricity to the national grid. While there are seven under-construction projects which will add another 4,414 MW to the national grid, according to a document of the Planning Commission of Pakistan.
Industrial cooperation and setting up SEZs is another important feature of the CPEC by setting up Rashakai SEZ, Allama Iqbal Industrial City, Dhabeji SEZ, and Bostan SEZ – all four under construction.
While five others are in the pipeline, including the ICT Model Industrial Zone, Industrial Park on Pakistan Steel Mill Land, Mirpur Industrial Zone, Mohmand Marble City, and Moqpondass SEZ.
Under the Social and Economic Development projects, five have already been completed including vaccine storage and transportation equipment, poverty alleviation training, emergency relief supplies for enhancing NDMA, disaster preparedness capacity, Pakistan Vocational and Technical Education Capacity build-up project and Pakistan Vocational Schools Equipment Upgrading and Renovation Project.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023