ISLAMABAD: Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) on Thursday launched an initiative, “Friends of Silk Road”, to bring together different segments of society.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar highlighted importance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“CPEC is an iconic initiative, and is beyond regional divide,” he said. According to a press release, the minister said five years ago Pakistan was energy deficient but now it had energy to kick off economic growth.”
He said after the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China and upon the conclusion of the 8th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on CPEC, it had been decided that 2019 would be the year of industrial cooperation.
“Special focus will be given to the industrial sector as well as agriculture.”
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of PCI, said the “Friends of Silk Road” was a major initiative, and given Pakistan’s pivotal role on CPEC as well as Pakistan’s longstanding relationship with China, it was now elevated from an ‘all weather friendship’ to being ‘iron brothers.’ He said Pakistan was the first among the BRI countries to launch the forum which would include local communities, parliamentarians, press, business and opinion leaders, youth and women, professionals and civil society, students and scholars.
“The forum will provide both a better understanding and information about benefits of the fruits of progress and development offered by the numerous opportunities arising out of the BRI through CPEC.
Head of a Chinese delegation, Gao Yunlong said the two countries’ all-weather friendship was based on public support and mutual trust. “Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Xi Jinping held a meeting, after which a consensus was formed in building a closer community, which will set the course for future bilateral relations.”
He said CPEC was the flagship project of the BRI, and had yielded many positive results.
“Out of 22 cooperative projects under CPEC, nine have been completed and 13 are under construction. Pakistan has shown to be a strong supporter and active player for the projects under CPEC, and has shown a positive response.”
Leader of the House in Senate Syed Shibli Faraz said CPEC is unique when it comes to infrastructural development.
“Unfortunately, the benefits of CPEC weren’t understood better before. Now that we are in government, we have come to realise that CPEC will be extremely beneficial for small industries and businesses,” he added.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2019