PRIME Minister Imran Khan is slated to visit China in the first week of February 2022 basically to attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics but serious efforts seem to be underway to make it a result-oriented visit as preparatory meetings are being held to prepare its agenda carefully.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister chaired a high-level meeting attended by key federal ministers as well as the army and intelligence chiefs to get input for the important visit.
According to the official handout, the participants were briefed about the agenda of the upcoming visit that covers further collaboration with China in fields of investment, trade, exports and information technology.
The visit takes place in the backdrop of important developments in the region and consistent reports that progress of work on many projects under the framework of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has slowed down mainly because of our inability to remove unnecessary hurdles in the way of their implementation.
According to some circles, the lack of required progress has sent an unfortunate message to Beijing about our commitment to the cause of the CPEC, which is rightly seen by a majority of people of Pakistan as historic opportunity to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development of the country, address sense of deprivation among hitherto neglected regions and create a world class infrastructure to help attract foreign investment.
One hopes the meeting would have discussed ways and means to regain the lost momentum on the CPEC initiative and some concrete understanding would be reached with the Chinese leadership on the issue.
There is no doubt that the top leadership of the country including Prime Minister Imran Khan has been making repeated commitments to strengthen cooperation with China under CPEC and he might once again express this resolve before the Chinese leadership but we believe mere verbose would not improve the overall situation if practical measures were not taken to address the irritants and remove the roadblocks.
Isn’t it the height of duplicity that on the one hand we are making frantic efforts to lure foreign investors but on the other hand we are unable to benefit appropriately from the willingness of China to invest in Pakistan’s various sectors of economy?
As compared to early harvest projects, which moved swiftly, other important projects are facing questionable delay despite their economic significance and there is no progress of work on the second phase of the CPEC except in papers.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin is also expected to be there in Beijing, the Prime Minister may have a substantial brief for a possible meeting that should pave the way for the long awaited visit of Mr Putin to Pakistan.