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

Afghan puzzle
28 May, 2024

Afghan puzzle

WHEN it comes to counterterrorism cooperation with the Afghan Taliban, we are moving in circles. While the...
Attacking minorities
28 May, 2024

Attacking minorities

WHILE Pakistan has watched many perish in the cauldron of sacrilege, the state has done little to turn down the...
Persistent scourge
28 May, 2024

Persistent scourge

THE challenge of polio in Pakistan has reached a new nadir, drawing grave concerns from the Technical Advisory Group...
Mercury rising
Updated 27 May, 2024

Mercury rising

Each of the country's leaders is equally responsible for the deep pit Pakistan seems to have fallen into.
Antibiotic overuse
27 May, 2024

Antibiotic overuse

ANTIMICROBIAL resistance is an escalating crisis claiming some 700,000 lives annually in Pakistan. It is the third...
World Cup team
27 May, 2024

World Cup team

PAKISTAN waited until the very end to name their T20 World Cup squad. Even then, there was last-minute drama. Four...