PAKISTANI and Chinese officials, on Wednesday, renewed their commitment to the epoch-making initiative of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) saying it was enjoying “smooth operation” despite the severe impact of the coronavirus pandemic that hit the world in December 2019.
Federal Minister Asad Umar, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on CPEC Khalid Mansoor, China’s National Development and Reform Commission Director-General Ying Xiong and Ambassador of China to Pakistan Nong Rong were addressing an award ceremony held by the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad to recognize the outstanding work of the staffer members for the development of CPEC.
The Covid-19 threw a big challenge to economic development of individual states and global trade and economic cooperation and in this backdrop one must appreciate the leadership of China and Pakistan as well as the staff working on different projects of CPEC for their contribution to keep those projects moving despite health hazards and practical difficulties.
It was, indeed, an achievement that neither Pakistani staff was laid off nor the Chinese workforce was withdrawn during the pandemic which reflected commitment of the two countries to the CPEC.
The pandemic was not allowed to hamper progress on CPEC projects but it is a reality that some of the projects have not kept the desired momentum due to non-resolution of some issues.
This sparked concern among some circles that the Government, under foreign pressure, was not demonstrating the level of interest it should have because of the vast potential and huge contribution of the CPEC to the economic development of Pakistan and welfare of its people.
In this backdrop, the announcement made by Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar that the Government of Prime Minister Imran Khan was committed to broadening the CPEC framework further from infrastructure to science and technology and agriculture, which are equally important for progress and development of Pakistan.
Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong reciprocated the sentiments expressed by the Minister and pointed out that President Xi Jinping, the architect of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), telephoned Prime Minister Imran Khan a few weeks back to renew commitment of his country to continue extending cooperation to promote agriculture, digital economy and livelihood of people of Pakistan under the framework of CPEC.
We hope that bureaucratic and other visible and invisible hurdles in the way of smooth execution of all projects under CPEC would be removed through intensive and priority dialogue as this is one of the surest ways to accelerate the pace of socio-economic uplift of people of Pakistan.