There is no slow down of CPEC as its foundation is solid and direction is set in new stage of CPEC. This was stated by Ambassador of China Yao Jing, in his key note speech at “Friends of Silk Road” Seminar organized by Pakistan-China Institute. Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reform was the guest of honor. Chairman Senate foreign affairs committee and Chairman Pakistan China Institute, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, presided over the seminar which was packed to capacity with a diverse and distinguished gathering including scholars, students, intellectuals, former diplomats, parliamentarians, business leaders, lawyers, civil society and representatives of Chinese companies.
Ambassador Yao Jing said that in this new stage of CPEC, the Chinese government is working very closely with Pakistan government and has identified three key areas to promote CPEC. These include Special Economic Zones with focus on Rashakai and preference will be given to private sector, Agriculture and a special agricultural Expo will be organized later in October in Islamabad and Lahore, with a focus on fisheries. The third area is Social sector development where 27 projects in six areas are being fast tracked, courtesy the grant of $1 billion by the Chinese government. The Chinese ambassador emphasized that “CPEC is running according to our satisfaction and there is no slowdown in CPEC”.
Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reform, Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar announced that government has decided to go ahead with ML-1 mega project for Pakistan Railways which will lead to dualization and upgradation of railway tracks from Peshawar to Karachi, the biggest modernization of Pakistan Railways since independence. He also said that CPEC is also above any political divide and there is national consensus on CPEC and eventually 80% of electricity will be generated by CPEC energy projects. He also announced that legal framework of Gwadar Free Trade Zone is ready. Pakistan-China Business Council is being established and, to top it all, an apex body, CPEC Authority, is being established “to push CPEC forward”.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed in his introductory speech said that CPEC is a success story because of the strong and unshakeable framework of Pakistan China relations. Recounting the benefits of CPEC, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that CPEC has given a new hope and confidence to the people of Pakistan and improved the image of Pakistan as investment friendly destination, revived dead projects like Gwadar port and Thar Coal Project, strengthened the Federation through physical connectivity, given Pakistan strategic space both in regional and world politics and provided employment to 70,000 Pakistanis plus 20,000 new scholarships for Pakistani students are in offing for the next three years.