By Uzma Zafar
ISLAMABAD- Opinion makers from diversified walks of Pakistani society have urged upon the politicians and general public to understand the depth of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor with looking into the blessings attached to it and the invisible benefits for the nation as a whole package.
The discussion was held at Such TV’s most popular Talk Show Such Time, hosted by popular TV Anchorperson Aasim Raza Monday evening. During the discussion, eminent analyst and former three star General pf Pakistan Army Amjad Shoaib said that it was really a tragedy that certain politicians were playing puppet to certain foreign forces and were making such a highly beneficial project for Pakistan controversial, just on the pattern of the scandalizing of Kalabagh Dam. He said that it was even more unfortunate that certain unscrupulous journalists and media houses of the country were also engaged in adding to the controversy.
Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Mail and Chairman of Pakistan-China Media Friendship association Mr. Makhdoom Babar gave a comprehensive backgrounder over the project and revealed the other development projects that were directly part of the whole package of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor. He said that In May 2013, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang paid a visit to Pakistan and reached important consensus with Pakistan leaders on planning and constructing the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (PCEC). During Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to China in July, 2013, the construction of PCEC was reiterated. PCEC starts from Kashgar, Xinjiang runs throughout the whole Pakistan, and finally reaches Gwadar Port in the south. The Economic Corridor will cover the whole areas of Pakistan and consists of energy projects, transportation infrastructures and economic zones along it. The construction of these projects will promote the flow of goods, information, and other resources, including and people. The Economic Corridor will bring more opportunities for cooperation, more projects in energy and transportation infrastructure sections, more jobs opportunities to the two peoples.
Makhdoom Babar said that China and Pakistan have established the Joint Cooperation Committee on the Long-term Planning of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (JCC), and set up three working groups of energy, transportation infrastructure and comprehensive planning in JCC. Now JCC has held three meetings. Both sides have reached some initial consensus on the planning and construction of the Economic Corridor, based on a series of discussions and consultations.
He further explained that PCEC was aimed to build closer connectivity and improve the livelihood among the neighboring countries with China. PCEC is not just one highway or road; it is rather a comprehensive package of cooperative initiatives and projects, which covers various fields including Gwadar Port, energy, transportation and infrastructure, finance agriculture, education and tourism. Projects in all the above fields are helpful to achieve the goal of improving the livelihood of the Pakistani people. All the cooperation between the two countries is based on the consensus by two sides.
DM Chief said that the purpose of building PCEC is to bring benefits to all the people of the entire Pakistan, including Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Actually, some projects in the two provinces are well under way. For instance, in Balochistan, the building of flagship project of Gwadar port is under way, including the construction of East Bay Expressway and International Airport. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the KKH new Phase is being advanced. Feasibility studies on upgrading of Main Line 1 and Havelian Dry Port project are under way. Both sides have successfully built Gomal Zam Dam, Khan Khawar Hydropower Station, Duber Khawar Hydropower Station. Tebella Dam was now under construction and projects such as Suki-Kinari Hydropower Station and Keyal Khwar Hydropower Station were to be built soon. He said that the projects under construction and to be built in KPK will yield the capacity of more than 9000MW, which will greatly ease the electricity shortage and bring tremendous benefits to the local people.
Makhdoom Babar said that both Pakistan and China were developing countries. Due to the limited resources and feasibility of operation, Projects of PCEC will be built step by step with clear focus and emphasis, combined with both long-term plan and early harvest projects. The current alignment of PCEC is out of thorough and in-depth feasibility studies and will bring about great benefits to Pakistan. That’s why both sides decided to start with KKH Phase II, highway between Multan and Sukkur, some energy projects, among others. The early harvests from these projects will help accumulate experience and pave the way for our future cooperation. With the construction of PCEC, more projects will be built in every region of Pakistan. Security issues should be taken into consideration during the construction of PCEC. The federal and local governments were expected to provide necessary security protection, which is the precondition of construction.
Makhdoom Babar further stated that the debate on the alignment of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor will only add divergence between different regions and parties in Pakistan. It is not conducive to the unity and development of Pakistan. The debate should come to an end for the fundamental interest of Pakistan. All circles in Pakistan are expected to understand and support the construction of PCEC, work together to build a friendly environment of public opinion, promote the projects and benefit local people as soon as possible.
Makhdoom Babar also stated that role of Information Ministry, Commerce Ministry and other relevant government departments in elaborating the actual horizons and magnitude of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor and to portray it as a whole package and also to hold a political consensus over it. He also deplored the role of certain journalists and certain media house for being part of the conspiracy against this mega project.
Rana Athar Javed, Director General of the think Tank Pakistan House, in his comments said that the controversy against PCEC was not mere a conspiracy but w ell planned and premeditated and motivated campaign the forces that were behind similar conspiracy against Kala Bagh Dam were engaged in this sinister campaign. Rana said that in every Pakistan-China cooperated project of development, such elements from aboard and from within create similar issues and it was the need of the hour to eliminate such elements and to expose them.
It may be mentioned here that program Such Time, due to its immense popularity and selection of discussion topic, often touches number one position in weekly ratings of Pakistani TV Talk Shows and is viewed by a very large number of TV viewers from all segments of live in all corners of Pakistan and also by expatriate Pakistanis in all parts of world.
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The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily