BEIJING / ISLAMABAD: China has said it is ready to work with Pakistan to upgrade the China-Pakistan Economic Corri­dor (CPEC) and accelerate the building of an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.

Separately, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar said after having achieved the first phase of CPEC, Pakistan is benefiting from its early harvest projects while remaining engaged with China to execute the next phase.

Chinese foreign ministry’s spokesperson Wang Wenbin while answering a question during a briefing on Wednesday said, “China stands ready to work with Pakistan to deliver on the important common understandings between the leaders of the two countries, deepen political mutual trust, and expand practical cooperation.”

About the recent visit of Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong to Pakistan, he said the minister during his Jan 20-22 trip called on President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Kakar, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, Chief of the Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir and Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani to have in-depth exchange of views on bilateral relations and issues of mutual interest.

The spokesperson added that the Chinese minister also co-chaired the fourth meeting of the CPEC Joint Working Group on International Cooperation and Co­­ordination with Foreign Secretary Syrus Sajjad Qazi. “China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners,” he said.

China appreciates Pakistan’s firm commitment to the One-China principle and supports Pakistan in defending its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, stability, development and prosperity.

Next CPEC phase

In Islamabad, PM Kakar said that after having achieved the first phase of CPEC, Pakistan is benefiting from its early harvest projects while remaining engaged with China to execute the next phase.

“We have already achieved the CPEC’s first phase and we are benefiting from its early harvest projects. We are entering the second phase. We do need more deliberations when it comes to the second phase,” he said in an interview recorded by CGTN during his recent visit to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum. The Chinese news outlet ran the interview on Wednesday.

PM Kakar said the CPEC’s second phase required road and air connectivity around industrialisation projects.

“Both sides are engaged and we have developed a lot of connectivity — road, air and the rest of connectivity corridor. We are benefiting from the ecosystem of doing trade with one another,” he remarked.

Asked how he saw the Chinese economy, the prime minister said: “I am always sanguine about it. There are 1.5 billion consumers and 1.5bn producers… How can you divorce 1.5bn people from 8bn people? It has to remain connected.”

Circular debt

Less than two weeks away from the end of its term, the caretaker government on Wednesday vowed to devise a plan to overcome the mammoth circular debt in the power and gas sector.

The circular debt reportedly swelled to over Rs5.73 trillion — Rs2.5tr power and Rs3tr gas.

Presiding over a meeting, PM Kakar directed the authorities concerned to devise an effective, durable and doable plan to overcome circular debt.

The PM had already expressed dissatisfaction over the poor performance of Discos and directed the power division to submit a comprehensive plan with clear targets, responsibilities and timelines, said an official.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2024

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