MINISTER for Planning, Development and Special Initiative Prof Ahsan Iqbal revealed on Friday that work on CPEC during four years of the PTI government remained stalled.
Addressing an award-giving ceremony for “Outstanding Pakistani Staff of CPEC Projects” held at Chinese Embassy Complex in Islamabad, he said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif immediately after coming to power in April 2022 made it a point that work on CPEC would resume at a fastest pace as Imran Khan government did not build even a single brick in free economic zones during his entire rule.
This is official confirmation of the widely-held belief that almost all CPEC projects suffered hugely during those years and despite verbal assurances nothing substantial was done to initiate more projects despite willingness by China to help Pakistan’s economy in every respect.
The sincerity of China can be gauged by the fact that it became the first country with highest Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in a short period of three years since the launch of the CPEC in 2015.
Out of several projects with investment of a total $46 billion, projects worth $29 billion were actualized in the first three years.
These are not paper projects but concrete ones with immense contribution to the overall growth of the economy.
Pakistan would not have faced the prevailing economic nightmare if all projects and programmes under the framework of the CPEC were pursued with initial zeal.
In fact, it was because of the real potential of the CPEC to change the destiny of Pakistan that it is being opposed by some powers that want the country to remain totally dependent on foreign aid and therefore, remain vulnerable to their pressure on different issues.
The Minister has aptly summed up the benefits of CPEC for Pakistan pointing out that it proved a source of tremendous support in diverse sectors like industry, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, port, highways and connectivity besides creation of job opportunities.
The Minister has plans to visit China in January and hopefully his interaction with Chinese leadership and officials would help CPEC regain its lost momentum.