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CPEC agreement is confidential, Ahsan Iqbal tells Senate

Updated July 28, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal on Thursday said agreement of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is confidential and cannot be made public.

“Agreement of the economic corridor with China is sensitive and it cannot be disclosed,” Iqbal said in the Senate session.

However, the minister handed over a sealed copy of the CPEC agreement to Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani and asked the members to examine the agreement in the chamber of the chairman if they wished to do so.

Earlier Chairman Senate Rabbani, on the request of members of the Senate on Wednesday, directed the federal government to present the agreement of CPEC before the Senate, as some senators were of the view that the government is providing advantages of CPEC agreement only to Punjab.

Ahsan Iqbal said the CPEC agreement will be a game changer in the region and entire world is focusing on it.

“At the present, it will be inappropriate to make the document public.”

He added that there are several agreements with China under the umbrella of CPEC and work is under process on these agreements.

CPEC strategic game-changer

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, in his address commemorating the 89th Anniversary of the Founding of People’s Liberation Army, termed the CPEC as “strategic game-changer for entire region”.

“Let me emphasise that CPEC is a strategic game-changer not just for Pakistan but for the entire region. It is destined to bring significant improvement in the lives of millions of people, besides further promoting mutual interdependence among regional states,” General Raheel said.

The army chief said “affinity of views between China and Pakistan” reflected their common vision and shared destiny. “This convergence of our interests and commonality of purpose make us the most important strategic players in the region,” he added.

General Raheel maintained that the CPEC was Pakistan’s “national undertaking” and assured its full security. “I assure you that we will not leave any stone unturned to ensure its timely completion and uninterrupted success,” he asserted.

CPEC: background

The CPEC is a 3,000-kilometer network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas from Gwadar Port to Kashgar city, northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, China Daily reports.

Proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in May 2013, the CPEC will act as a bridge for the new Maritime Silk Route that envisages linking three billion people in Asia, Africa and Europe.

An official agreement on the corridor was signed between the two countries in May this year during President Xi Jinping's historic visit to Pakistan.

A flagship project of the Belt and Road initiative as well, the CPEC intends to revive the ancient Silk Road with a focus on infrastructure, and constitutes the strategic framework of bilateral cooperation.

The project links China's strategy to develop its western region with Pakistan's focus on boosting its economy, including the infrastructure construction of Gwadar Port, together with some energy cooperation and investment programs.

It also involves road and railway construction including an upgrade of the 1,300-km Karakoram Highway, the highest paved international road in the world which connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountains.

The CPEC will reduce China's routes of oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East by thousands of kilometers, making Gwadar a potentially vital link in China's supply chain.