For Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, among the key benefits that CPEC will bring to Pakistan is the framework and the infrastructure that will sustain future development.
THREE years back in 2015, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were unknown words. Today, the CPEC is a word known not only in Pakistan, but around the world. The people who are at Davos will recall this year that the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC were the words that everybody was using.
The BRI is the vision of [Chinese] President Xi Jinping for the push for connectivity of China with the world. It is the project of a generation and, today, the CPEC is the visible part of the BRI. We are indeed privileged in the sense that CPEC will open Western China and Central Asia with connectivity to the sea with the most efficient route to the sea through Gwadar.
It will provide two-way trade routes to the world, not only for Pakistan but for Afghanistan, Central Asia and Western China. It will provide rail and road links, it will provide gas, power and information technology (IT) links, and it will provide this region with access to the world through the BRI.
Recently, I met President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and most of the discussion there was about connectivity. We definitely discussed security and I am sad to note of the unfortunate incident in Kabul the other day, but today Afghanistan recognises the benefits that CPEC will bring not only for Afghanistan but also for the region.
This is an opportunity for all the people living in this region. We look upon CPEC as a partnership between two governments, a new way of working together.
It provides Pakistan with a platform for development. It integrates our own efforts for development with the package that CPEC provides. Today, less than three years from the date when President Xi signed the framework agreement and other agreements in Islamabad, CPEC is becoming a reality.
Two power projects have already come online and the third one is nearing completion. Thar Coal, which was a dream for many, many years, is today a reality because of CPEC. Transmission lines are being built.
As for the highway and motorway network, much of those roads and motorways that we talk about are in one form or another also part of CPEC. We are also working on improving the main line that Pakistan has for railways that will also be a part of CPEC.
Above all, the special economic zones will provide entrepreneurs from Pakistan, China and all over the world to take opportunity of what CPEC provides to build business, to increase trade, to improve their output, to increase efficiency and that is where the real fruits of CPEC lie.
The projects under CPEC are built on two basic principles. The first principle is economic viability and the second principle is environmental sustainability. That is the key on which we operate.
Even the coal plants that we are building to diversify our energy needs will replace the very inefficient oil generation mechanism, and they will also be environmentally positive.
It is very critical that we recognise that the projects of CPEC have always been designed and always been implemented with these two principles in mind; the economic viability and environmental sustainability.
Today, the CPEC provides us with a platform to build on, so there are many other projects which may not be a part of CPEC today, but they will be built on the basic infrastructure that CPEC provides. It is basically a programme that will evolve and grow.
The long-term CPEC plan has also been articulated and it provides for further expansion in CPEC’s vision. It now addresses technology, it provides for agricultural support and it provides for poverty alleviation.
The future programmes of CPEC basically adhere to the principle and the vision of President Xi of a shared community. Pakistan today is privileged to be able to use CPEC for not only its development, but also to provide connectivity and contribute to the development of the region and Western China.
Events, like the Dawn CPEC Summit, will provide much needed clarity and much needed direction for the CPEC in the future.
The writer is the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
This article is part of the CPEC 2018 Summit supplement.