IN the backdrop of consistent media reports that work on some projects under the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has slowed down, Chairman of CPEC Authority Lt General Asim Saleem Bajwa (R) has categorically stated that work on the eastern, western and central alignments was in full swing and the second phase of the project is just beginning. Speaking to a delegation of senior officials and researchers of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) he rubbished the claims that work on phase one has slowed down, adding nothing was on hold.
The assurance is meaningful and credible as it comes from the top official directly responsible to oversee all aspects of the CPEC on Pakistan side and it is understood he has intimate knowledge of each and every move as well as what exactly was the progress on individual projects. The very fact that Pakistan has established a high powered Authority to work exclusively to promote the historic initiative and created a special division of Pakistan Army to take care of the security aspects is a testimony of the seriousness of the country to pursue the project vigorously. However, there have been persistent reports of lack of required funding, bureaucratic delays in approval and execution of individual projects and pressure from some foreign countries that wanted to harm the initiative as part of their own designs in the region. In fact, statements of some leaders of the Government and cold-shouldered attitude towards several projects including Lahore’s Orange Line and Metro Bus linking Federal Capital with new Islamabad International airport created a negative impression about CPEC. There is, therefore, a need on the part of the Government to focus more on CPEC as it is an historic opportunity to transform life of the people and change the socio-economic landscape of areas that remained neglected in the past due to financial constraints. The infrastructure projects being pursued under CPEC would not only lead to greater intra-country mobility but also improve regional connectivity to help realize the dream of making Pakistan a regional hub for trade and investment. We hope Chairman CPEC Authority would succeed in removing all sorts of bottlenecks in the way of smooth implementation of each and every project besides adding more projects to the CPEC list.