‘OB-OR’ project to prove new paradigm of regional co-existence

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Salim Ahmed

Lahore—Through the idea of shared destiny and cooperation, China will construct a new world economy that would impart exclusive economic benefit to Pakistan for being the friendly neighbor and main strategic partner. Shah Faisal Afridi, President Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry termed “One Belt, One Road” as a mega project of China that will prove to be a new paradigm of regional co-existence. Afridi told the gathering that ‘One belt one road’ is the bigger project of China under which China is investing massively in Asia. The vision of the OBOR foresees the world to benefit from trade and grow economically, therefore the idea should be welcomed optimistically, said Afridi.
He informed the audience that according to the plan ‘One Belt-One Road’ would be a series of initiatives under which several corridors will be built to boost regional economies to the tune of $2.5 trillion benefiting over 4.4 billion population across 65 countries. The initiative is not simply building roads, rails, and ports but introduces a comprehensive network of infrastructure development, added Afridi. According to him, the mega project One Belt One Road (OBOR) is a shift in strategy to integrate China with the rest of Asia, Europe and Africa, and in the process, build infrastructure across these regions to boost economic growth of the region and definitely create a win-win situation for China along with the participants in the project.
He told that OBOR consists of various mega-projects, but the main two programs are “the Maritime Silk Road” (MSR) and the “Silk Road Economic Belt” (SREB). He further said that OBOR has a string of projects connecting the Baltic Sea with the Pacific Ocean via roads, rails and sea lanes for free trade. Afridi mentioned that Pakistan is fortunate that China has chosen to begin the implementation of this big bang template with Pakistan, as both nations are the Iron friends. He said that (CPEC) will be a trunk passageway connecting the Silk Road Economic Belt in the north with the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road in the south. He told that CPEC is the only corridor which is connected to another corridor and helps provide landlocked countries with access to the sea.
He further informed that till now, no country has invested in Pakistan so massively in a single sweep; even USA which has been very benevolent towards Pakistan in terms of handouts and its devised aid packages do not match up to the $46 billion which China is investing. Afridi mentioned that the size of the, investment? in the CPEC over the next 15 years, if materialized, will equal the cumulative gross foreign direct investment inflows into Pakistan since 1970.
He was of the view that Belt and Road Initiative is a systematic project, which should be jointly built through consultation to meet the interests of all, It is an enduring methodical project that cannot be done overnight, thus states should undergo step-by-step advancement and by endorsing upon a pragmatic approach they should invoke various cooperation initiatives and mechanisms under the auspices of ‘one road, one belt’ initiative to make it more effective and mutually reinforcing, added Afridi. Pakistan is making its choices prudently and with confidence, supporting all efforts for peace, stability and prosperity in the region. However, Pakistan needs to involve all leaders of the local business community so as to look into the fringe business opportunities attached with the mega project, he said.