Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday reiterated that America’s stance on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor would have “no impact” on the project and the CPEC is inevitable for the development of the country and it will be further expanded.
He was referring to a statement by Wells, who is in charge of South Asia affairs at the US State Department, in which she had “warned” that CPEC would further add to Pakistan’s debt burden. She had said the multi-billion-dollar CPEC would take a toll on Pakistan’s economy at the time of repayments and dividend in the coming years.
Speaking to reporters in Multan, Qureshi said, “Pakistan does not agree with US view. We have rejected that view,” Qureshi said, adding: “We do not think that the burden of CPEC will increase our debt burden.” The foreign minister said that Pakistan’s total debt burden is $74 billion of which CPEC is $4.9bn.
CPEC is a gamechanger for the entire region and there is no restriction for any country, including the US, to invest in the special economic zones being established under CPEC,” said Qureshi.
“To say that CPEC is increasing our debt servicing is incorrect,” he said, adding that the second phase of the development project has been launched.
Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said CPEC is the (government’s) first priority, also saying that Pakistan does not agree with America’s concerns regarding the project.
In a tweet, Awan said: “This great corridor will open new paths for economic development and prosperity in the entire region, not just for Pakistan and China.”
The premier’s special assistant added that the project is a “surety of our economic development”, adding: “China is our close friend and has stood by us during every trying time.”
Awan said CPEC was a top priority for Pakistan and would be a harbinger of economic development and prosperity for the entire region. She said the economic zones established under CPEC would generate more job opportunities for Pakistanis and help address one of the country’s most pressing challenges.
Referring to the commercial loans Pakistan has taken from China, the PM’s aide said a reduction in the figure would be witnessed in the years to come. Firdous said the friendship between Pakistan and China had withstood the test of time and appreciated Beijing for its unwavering support over the years. “Pakistan and China’s friendship has assumed a proverbial status; it really is sweeter than honey, higher than the Himalayas, and deeper than the oceans.