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LAHORE: British High Commissioner to Pakistan Philip Barton on Monday said a new Pakistan is emerging because of ‘rapid development projects, especially the Pak-China Economic Corridor, which would serve as the backbone of the country’s connectivity with the western as well as central Asian countries’.

Mr Barton, who was here to visit Pakistan’s largest under-construction mall – Nishat Emporium – being built by the Nishat Group, said the Gwadar project was fascinating.

He said British engineers and architects engaged in the construction of the mall had regularly been visiting Pakistan and faced no security problem.

“The security in the country is much better than the perception in minds of the outside world. It is in fact a stunning place for people to come.”

Asks manufacturers to adhere to rights conventions

He was of the view that investor confidence in Pakistan was improving with the improvement in security situation and stabilisation of the economy. He said the emerging opportunities would help turn a new leaf in the economic history of Pakistan.

The high commissioner also reminded the manufacturers to adhere to the international conventions on human rights and labour standards for continued access to the EU markets under the GSP-Plus scheme.

“We would like Pakistani companies to have the best opportunities in the EU markets,” he said and added, “More British brands are coming into Pakistan giving boost to domestic retail sector and generating huge jobs opportunities.”

The 11-storeyed Nishat Emporium will have a 9-screen cinema complex, country’s largest food court and children’s play area, banquet halls, restaurants, a dedicated high fashion retail area, gold market and a five-star hotel.

Welcoming Mr Barton, Nishat Group Chairman Mian Muhammad Mansha was optimistic that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would make Pakistan the epicenter of global economic activities.

He appreciated the keen interest and support of the British government and its private sector to CPEC. He said the British services sector was very enthusiastic about participating in the CPEC projects.

Mian Mansha, who has recently been to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China across Pakistani border, said the city of 60 million people was buzzing with activity. “My host in Urumqi is developing housing and hotels on 30 square miles of land in anticipation of the economic activities that the completion of CPEC will generate. Many regions of the subcontinent up to Nepal will become accessible for trade to China and Central Asian States after completion of the corridor. This is the time for Pakistan to open up so that we become fully geared to take advantage of this great trade corridor.”

He appreciated the economic stability brought about by the government, adding the country now should move to growth path. He urged the government to promote domestic commerce along with exports. He said the country should be prepared to cater to needs of thousands of people who would pass through this important trade route.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2015