LAHORE: Pakistan has a sovereign right to decide its future with regard to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), says the US ambassador.
"US Assistant Secretary Alice Wells’ comments on CPEC were meant to generate a debate; however, it is Pakistan’s sovereign right to decide its future (in this regard). We do not expect everyone to agree with us or agree with every aspect of her speech," US Ambassador to Islamabad Paul W. Jones said here on Monday.
Talking to reporters after visiting the historic Wazir Khan Masjid to review the ongoing restoration work under the ‘US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation’, Mr Jones said there should be plenty of debate and discussions on her [Ms Wells’] speech.
“Pakistanis should understand Alice Wells’ statement and this should be taken positively. Different aspects of this statement need to be understood,” he said.
The ambassador further said not only in Pakistan but in other countries also the path of development was important for the prosperity of people, therefore it should be transparent and discussed openly.
Accompanied by his wife Catherine, Mr Jones said Lahore is a beautiful city having great culture, commerce and tourism. “I am delighted that we have such a dynamic and experienced Consul General, Catherine Rodriguez, here,” he said.
Ms Well had said the CPEC might take a toll on Pakistan’s economy as it was not an aid but a form of financing that guaranteed profits for Chinese state-owned enterprises. Pakistan, however, had rejected the statement saying Alice Wells’ speech on the CPEC was based on wrong analysis and incorrect assessment of the facts. Chinese Ambassador to Islamabad Yao Jing also rejected Ms Wells’ statement, saying “Pak-China relations are based on win-win cooperation and are mutually beneficial”.
Mr Yao expressed astonishment over Ms Wells’ statement of higher tariff in power plants, established under the CPEC.
The ambassador questioned that when in 2013, the Chinese companies were establishing power plants in Pakistan, where was the US? Why it did not invest in Pakistan’s power sector despite knowing that Pakistan was in dire need of electricity.
He said China had always come forward to assist Pakistan in need without any political or government differences. He said if Pakistan was in need, China would never ask it to repay its loans in time, while on the other hand the International Monetary Fund, which is mainly governed by the West, was strict in its repayment system.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2019