Security pledges for workers as CPEC set to expand

Published March 23, 2024
MINISTER for Planning Ahsan Iqbal holds a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Jiang Zaidong, in Islamabad.—PPI
MINISTER for Planning Ahsan Iqbal holds a meeting with the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Jiang Zaidong, in Islamabad.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday assured Chinese workers of top-level security as it pushed for the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through the launch of five special industrial zones.

At a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Jiang Zaidong, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal assured the Chinese side that Pakistan had made significant efforts to safeguard the security of Chinese workers and would further implement top-level security measures for Chinese personnel.

He said security was a prerequisite for development, and Pakistan acknowledged the full recognition of CPEC construction and security risks. However, these risks would not disrupt work on CPEC projects, he added.

The two sides agreed to intensify efforts to establish a new working group on five new economic corridors under the second phase, aligning with the Five Es framework — export, energy, equity, environment and e-Pakistan — already prepared by the planning ministry.

Pakistan, China to form working group on five new economic corridors under multi billion-dollar project

The Chinese ambassador congratulated Mr Iqbal on assuming the role of planning minister for the fourth time.

“Both sides have agreed to expedite Phase 2 of the CPEC, while deciding to establish a working group on five new economic corridors, including the Corridor of Job Creation, Corridor of Innovation, Corridor of Green Energy, and Inclusive Regional Development,” an official statement said.

Both the planning ministry and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China will prepare separate concept papers on the new economic corridors, which will provide a clear roadmap for each sector in the future. These concept papers will be consolidated before presentation at the upcoming Joint Coordination Commi­ttee (JCC) meeting, which is expected later this year, the statement said.

The planning ministry has already initiated the implementation of the Five Es framework. This framework will be aligned with the five new economic corridors to advance Pakistan’s prosperity in each sector under the vision of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Mr Iqbal told the meeting, highlighting the importance of accelerating Pakistan’s export capabilities through enterprise development and job creation.

During the meeting, Mr Iqbal outlined a strategic approach to maximise the success of special economic zones (SEZs) within Pakistan. He proposed a “One plus Four” model, wherein each SEZ in Pakistan would be partnered with one province from China, one industry group to develop specialised clusters within these zones, one zone from China to provide technical expertise, and a state-owned enterprise to spearhead SEZ development.

Mr Iqbal said this collaborative framework would speed up establishing and growing special economic zones in Pakistan, enhancing their competitiveness and attractiveness to investors.

“The Chinese envoy appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to implement the CPEC, particularly the initiation of Phase 2,” the statement said.

Addressing Pakistan’s need to boost the efficiency of special economic zones to increase foreign exchange, the Chinese envoy suggested that officers in charge of the zones must visit Chinese industrial parks to observe firsthand the efficiency measures practised by Chinese authorities.

The minister noted that the success of special economic zones was dependent on their ability to become clusters of specific industries, fostering economies of scale and creating a vibrant ecosystem conducive to innovation and growth.

The discussions also focused on enhancing regional connectivity, emphasising critical infrastructure projects like the Gwadar Port and the M-8 motorway, which will strengthen trade links and facilitate regional integration.

Mr Iqbal also appreciated Chinese assistance in helping Pakistan develop its exports and conceded that Pakistan’s current challenge was to determine how quickly it could build its exports through earned foreign exch­ange, not borrowed money.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

ICJ rebuke
Updated 26 May, 2024

ICJ rebuke

The reason for Israel’s criminal behaviour is that it is protected by its powerful Western friends.
Hot spells
26 May, 2024

Hot spells

WITH Pakistan already dealing with a heatwave that has affected 26 districts since May 21, word from the climate...
Defiant stance
26 May, 2024

Defiant stance

AT a time when the country is in talks with the IMF for a medium-term loan crucial to bolstering the fragile ...
More pledges
Updated 25 May, 2024

More pledges

There needs to be continuity in economic policies, while development must be focused on bringing prosperity to the masses.
Pemra overreach
25 May, 2024

Pemra overreach

IT seems, at best, a misguided measure and, at worst, an attempt to abuse regulatory power to silence the media. A...
Enduring threat
25 May, 2024

Enduring threat

THE death this week of journalist Nasrullah Gadani, who succumbed to injuries after being attacked by gunmen, is yet...