BEIJING: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Ahsan Iqbal Thursday said that the ongoing visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to China would prove to be a milestone in the development of Pakistan-China relations.

“This is the first official visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to China after the establishment of new government in Pakistan early this year and the visit will prove to be a milestone in the development of Pakistan-China relations,” he told APP.

He said that Pakistan and China had laid the foundation of historic project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2013 and this pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has resulted in significant social and economic development in Pakistan during the last 10 years.

The minister pointed out that a large number of achievements have been made particularly in the energy sector, adding, more than 8,000 MW of power projects were constructed while motorway and highways were also built.

Similarly, we laid foundation of information highway through fiber optic cable and upgraded Gwadar seaport as well as work was initiated on the construction of special economic zones.

But unfortunately, that momentum could not be maintained between the years 2018 and 2022 due to some political changes, Covid-19 pandemic and climate disaster in the country in the year 2022 which caused a colossal loss to the economy, he added.

Mr Iqbal remarked that the present government has resumed work on CPEC projects with new vigor and commitment adding, “Now we are entering in the phase-2 of the CPEC under which five new corridors have been identified as per consensus reached between the leadership of both the countries”.

These new corridors include growth corridor, livelihood corridor, innovation corridor, green energy corridor and open and inclusive regional development corridor, he added.

He said in the second phase, the government is focusing to promote industrial cooperation with China through business-to-business linkages.

In this regard, the Pakistan-China Business Conference was organized in coastal city of Shenzhen during first leg of the prime minister’s visit to China which was attended by more than 350 entrepreneurs from both Pakistan and China.

The federal minister said that agreement would be signed with China to upgrade agriculture sector as the present leadership intends to benefit from China’s experience in modern agriculture and also use of science and technology in this sector.

“We will send our agriculture scientists to China for training and borrow modern techniques so that Pakistan could enhance agricultural productivity,” he added.

About cooperation in science and technology, he said that both countries would further enhance cooperation in this sector.

About upgradation of railways, he said, the present government is trying to modernize the 150-year-old railways system which was damaged during floods in the country and initiate the ML-1 project.

Mr Iqbal said that work will start on green energy projects such as hydel power projects in Kohala, Azad Pattan having 2000 MW capacity, this year.

He said that Huawei, China’s leading high-tech company has made a strategic partnership with Pakistan and it will help us to implement digitalization process in the country.

Prof Ahsan Iqbal is accompanying the prime minister during his five-day visit of China.

Published in Dawn, June 7th, 2024

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