Ahsan reiterates commitment to complete CPEC projects within given timeframe

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Pakistan-China Friendship above conventional definition of diplomacy

Zubair Qureshi

Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiative Ahsan Iqbal on Friday said Pakistan and China defied all conventional norms and definitions of bilateral relations— be it Cold War Era, Post-Cold War period, 9/11 or any other time period.

He said this while addressing an award-giving ceremony for “Outstanding Pakistani Staff of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Projects” organized at the Embassy of China on Friday.

Ambassador of China Nong Rong, Deputy CEO, Thar Coal Block-1 Power Generation Company Mr Ying Minghao, Deputy DG, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China Mr Pan Jiang, award recipients including Shakeela Kosar, Mir Arsalan, Saima Nawaz and Muhammad Hamza Khalid also addressed on the occasion.

While congratulating the award recipients for their extraordinary contributions and hardwork at different CPEC projects, Ahsan Iqbal said they were the real heroes of Pakistan making the dream of a prosperous, peaceful and progressing Pakistan possible.

You are our real heroes, he said as through you the people of Pakistan are enjoying the fruit of development and dividends of economic cooperation, he said.

Ahsan Iqbal said there was no example like Pakistan-China friendship in the history of the bilateral relations and a number of terms like ‘iron brothers’ ‘all weather friendship’ and ‘higher than Himalaya and deeper than the oceans’ were coined to describe and explain Pak-China friendship.

While describing the Chinese economic contribution, Ahsan said Pakistan had become the first country with highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by China in a short period of three years since the launch of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015. Out of several projects with investment of a total US$46 billion, projects worth US$29 billion were actualized in the first three years, he said.

The credit for translating the Pakistan-China political, social and historical relations into a game-changing economic cooperation goes to the visionary leadership of President Xi Jinping and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he said.

CPEC, said Ahsan Iqbal proved a source of tremendous support to Pakistan in diverse sectors such as industry, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, port and highways development, social economic projects, in short it guaranteed a wholesome development for the country generating hundreds and thousands of jobs and opportunities for the youth.

In fact, it was a revolution in connectivity, said Ahsan Iqbal, adding, a number of free economic zones were identified under the CPEC and it was estimated billions of dollars’ revenue would be generated through those FEZs.

Unfortunately, work on CPEC during the past four years remained more or less stalled, he said. The Imran Khan-government did not build a single FEZ during the four years, he said.However, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif immediately after coming to power in April this year made it a point that work on CPEC would resume at top speed.

We have taken it as a noble duty on ourselves to complete CPEC projects and make it a game-changer for not only Pakistan but the entire region, he said. Ambassador Nong Rong of China on the occasion felicitated the recipients of the awards and said the year 2022 witnessed the deepening of all-round cooperation between the two countries.

The CPEC projects he said have made a sound achievement against the challenge of global economic downturn and historical floods in Pakistan. He also thanked Mr Pan Jiang and NDRC colleagues, for their input and guidance to this landmark cooperation.

Ambassador Nong Rong referred to the November 2 meeting between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Our two sides are committed to make full use of the JCC of the CPEC, advance CPEC with greater efficiency, and make CPEC an exemplar of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, he said.

A series of good news is coming from different sectors under the CPEC umbrella, said Ambassador Nong Rong adding the China-aided Eastbay Expressway of Gwadar port had begun operation since June, enhancing connectivity of the port, which is now transporting two hundred thousand ton of fertilizer.

The achievements of the CPEC are not possible without joint efforts of staff from both China and Pakistan, said the ambassador.

“Among the 34 outstanding Pakistani staffs, some of you are engineers, who keep the boilers and other equipment in good condition, some of you are from administrative sector, who implement the Covid SOPs in a prudent manner; Some of you are from financing sector, who help the project to attract investment. Each of you has a good story.

You are not only the constructors and participants of the CPEC, but also the ‘witnesses and promoters of a brilliant history, he concluded.