ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk on Friday inaugurated the Pak-China Optical Fibre Cable project that would serve as the first land-based communication link between Pakistan and China.

The project that has been completed in two years will help develop the telecom sector in Gilgit-Baltistan region, besides contributing to enhancement of security of the schemes falling under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The project includes an 820-kilometre-long underground Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) from Rawalpindi to Khunjerab and a 172-km aerial OFC link from Karimabad to Khunjerab. The project being launched as part of the CPEC also has 26 high-capacity microwave links as backup to the OFC network and nine node centres in different locations.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the project, Mr Mulk said: “The project will contribute to provision of state-of-the-art ICT [information and communication technologies] facilities to far-flung areas of the country.” The ICT services played a key role in the socioeconomic uplift of the country.

He hailed the project as one of strategic importance as it would help in “developing telecom sector in Northern Areas and regions along the CPEC route”. The project would “play a pivotal role for security requirements of CPEC projects”.

In his address, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said that OFC was one of the nine projects to be completed under the CPEC. He said the CPEC would have a digital corridor as well.

The director general of the Special Communication Organisation, Maj Gen Amir Azim Bajwa, on the occasion said a communication link had been established with the Chinese side on the border that had been successfully tested for end-to-end connectivity.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2018

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