By Uzma Zafar and
ISLAMABAD – Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Mr. Sun Wiedong has said that the depth and warmth of the relations between the Peoples of Pakistan and China can simply be judged by the fact that when people of Pakistan are hurt, the people of China feel the pain and when people of Pakistan smile, hearts of the people of China blossom.
Addressing a high profile Pakistan-China Media Forum on 21st century Maritime Silk Road, China Pakistan Economic Corridor and One Belt and One Road projects, organized by The Daily Mail from the platform of Pakistan-China Media Friendship Association with the collaboration of COMSATS Institute of Information Technology here on Friday, Ambassador Sun Weidong praised the Pakistani nation for standing firm to combat the menace of terrorism and by doing so the nation got itself so much strength that it was eventually able to display the force of determination and unity by holding a highly impressive Military Parade on the 23rd of March this years. He said that the said gala conveyed a very loud and clear message across the world that how much strength and courage this nation has to get back to its feet despite many odds that it continued to face.
Elaborating the 21st century Maritime Silk Road , China Pakistan Economic Corridor and One Belt and One Road projects, Ambassadors Sun Weidong said that these initiatives were set to reshape not only the regional economy but will revamp and restructure the global economic infrastructures. He said the initiative of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and One Belt and One Road that was conceived by Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping in 2013 was a mega project for the entire region and even beyond regional ambits and will bring enormous changes not only to the national economies of the benefiting States but would also revolutionize the economies of people at the grassroots levels .He said that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor was a major component of the above mentioned initiatives of the Chinese leadership and this the CPEC had attained added importance not only for Pakistan and China but for all the relevant States. He said CPEC was not merely an ordinary economic corridor or a transit trade route but it in fact was a full and comprehensive package, having a variety of benefits and linked projects. He said that under CPEC, the Pakistani nation would be having a power generation of around 10,000 Megawatts, a number of Hydro Power water Dams, a high speed Railway facility, Educational institutes and Medical facilities while the creation of enormous job opportunities was also one of the blessings that the CPEC would be bringing to Pakistan. Giving great news of financial stability to Pakistani nation, Ambassador Sun Weidong said that he could very clearly foresee a great prosperity for Pakistani nation in coming few years when the projects like CPEC would start to deliver.
Paying rich tributes to the Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Mail, Mr. Makhdoom Babar for forming Pakistan-China Media Friendship Association to promote bilateral media relations between Chinese and Pakistani Media organizations and individual journalist, Chinese Ambassador said that it was indeed a great initiative and an amazing example of farsightedness on part of The Daily Mail Chief and termed it as a unique milestone in Pakistan-China Friendship. He called for more such initiatives and stressed upon Pakistani journalists to pay more and more visits to China to be a witness to the peaceful development of this brotherly country as by virtue of what they would get more and more initiatives. He praised Mr. Makhdoom Babar for evolving the idea of holding this Pak-China Media Forum at such a critical juncture of time that demanded elaborated efforts to create awareness about the projects like CPEC, One Belt & One Road and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
In his keynote address, former Secretary General of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan and former Ambassador of Pakistan to China, Mr. Akram Zaki said that Pakistan-China relations were a clear cut example for the entire world to learn about harmony, peace and art of peaceful coexistence and to benefit from each other’s development. Referring to the Indian designs of reaching out to China’s Xinjiang via Aksai Chin rout through Siachin Glaciers, Akram Zaki said that had Pakistan Army not checked properly and timely, the Indians could have taken off for Aksai Chin and ultimately to grab parts of Xinjiang. He said that this was any amazing example to gauge the sincerity for each other in Pakistan-China Relations and such examples are the reason for this relationship being called the exemplary by the entire world.
In a rather emotional manner, Ambassador Zaki said that people often ask him that what he earned out of long diplomatic career? “I straightaway answer this question that I don’t know what else I have earned but for one thing I am sure that earned the love and friendship of over one billion Chinese people for me and for the people of my country”, said Ambassador Zaki
Highly praising the efforts of The Daily Mail in promoting Pakistan-China relations through the media endeavors and the vision of its Editor-in-Chief Makhdoom Babar which led him to form Pakistan-China Joint Media Body; Pakistan China Media Friendship Association, Ambassador Zaki said that having such joint media platforms was the acute need of the hour and The Daily Mail and its Editor-in-Chief deserve great admiration for the same.
Addressing the august audience, former Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former Pakistan Ambassador of Pakistan to the People’s Republic of China, Mr. Salman Bashir said that Pakistan-China relations were unique in the history of relations of the nations. He said that it was only in the case of Pakistan-China relations that the real power behind the relations were the peoples of both countries and that was why these relations always remained untouched by the global political and diplomatic changes. He said that he was pretty much sure that in the coming years, with the presence of people like Ambassador Sun Weidong at the helm of affairs to promote these relations, the Pakistan-China Friendship was set to touch extraordinary heights. Praising his former colleagues, Ambassador Bashir Said that he was very much delighted and amazed as well encouraged to see that his junior professionals, who assisted him like a decade back during his posting as Ambassador of Pakistan at Beijing, had now emerged as torch bearers of promoting the same good cause of promoting Pakistan-China relations with full dedication and sincerity. He said 2 of his former subordinates at Beijing were now Consul Generals of Pakistan in China and that was a real matter of encouragement and satisfaction for him. Paying rich tributes to Pakistan’s Consul General at Guangzhou Mr. Babar Amin, Ambassador Salman Bashir said that Babar Amin was clearly displaying that how much dedication and devotion is required for this outstanding cause and for the dispensing the duties as a truly hardworking and sincere diplomat.
Ambassador Salman Bashir was all the praise for DM Chief Mr. Makhdoom Babar and said that he could not express that Makhdoom Babar was, even after a decade, was still comprehensively engaged in the cause of promoting Pakistan-China relations through his efforts as a Media entrepreneur and also as a professional journalist. Salman Bashir, who termed The Daily Mail as a new symbol of Friendship in Pakistan-China relations, in 2005-2006, said that it was a clear example of selfless devotion to the cause of Pakistan-China Friendship that Pakistan China Media Association and The Daily Mail, under Mr. Makhdoom, through their continuous sincere efforts have today been able to hold such a mega Media Forum as a joint discussion platform for Pakistanis and Chinese. He said that when Makhdoom Babar first discussed the Idea of forming Pakistan-China Media Friendship Association almost a decade back, he was very much impressed by this idea and thus encouraged Mr. Makhdoom in this direction and extended as much as professional help as a diplomat to him for the same. He said that he was amazed to see that this gentleman had kept the good work up untiringly for over ten years and still seems to be very determined and dedicated for the same in coming years too.
Giving his views, former 3-Star General of the Pakistan Army and noted analyst Lt. General (Rtd) Amjad Shoaib said that he was very much appreciative of the help and cooperation that China has been extending to Pakistan in the field of Defense and defense Technology. He said that this defense cooperation was not aimed against anyone but was indeed a very vital component to maintain peace in the region as well across the globe as it was because of this cooperation in the Defense sector that Pakistan and the Pakistan army have always been eliminating the enemies of peace. He hit hard on those who were engaged raising controversies about Pakistan China Economic Corridor. He said that in systematic manner, just on the pattern of Klabagh Dam conspiracies, the conspiracies against CPEC were also being hatched and it was very important to crush these conspiracies right in the beginning otherwise there was a fear that the conspirators could bring a Kalabagh Dam like fate for CEPC.
General Amjad also made towering comments to appreciate the efforts of The Daily Mail for organizing a high profile Media Forum over such an important issue. He paid rich tributes to The Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Mail to organize a joint Pak-China intellectual discussion from his organization’s platform.
Speaking on the occasion, former Pakistan Air Force officer and the host of the popular Pakistan Television Program Defense and Diplomacy, Mr. SM Hali said that it was very disappointing to notice that certain elements were making an issue out of no issue and were unjustifiably targeting the CPEC. He urged upon the local media to play a very strong and effective role in blocking such moves by all unscrupulous individuals and groups and to highlight the importance of this mega project amongst the masses of Pakistan through news reports, columns, articles and other efforts like the seminar that The Daily Mail had organized.
Addressing the gathering, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the leading media Group of China the Guangzhou Daily Media group, ranked number three in China in terms of circulation, readership and distribution, Mr. Zhou Henghua said that the initiative of The Daily Mail to hold a mega event of Pakistan-China Media Forum which was a platform for Pakistan-China joint media and intellect discussion was simply amazing and was proof of the professional strength and farsightedness on part of the management of The Daily Mail. He said that Guangzhou was a very important city with regard to 21st century Maritime Silk Road and One Belt & One Road initiative and was thus equally important for China Pakistan Economic Corridor. He said that his media group was very dedicatedly working on the promotion of the above mentioned projects and thus there was a great need of close cooperation between his media group and a Pakistani media group and there could have been not better choice for his organization than The Daily Mail and it’s Mail Media Group to chose for the purpose. He said that since The Daily Mail was so much involved for the promotion of China-Pakistan relations, his Media Group had no 2nd though in signing an agreement with The Daily Mail and its weekly publication; China Economic Digest. He said that he and his team had specially arrived from Guangzhou, China to take part in this august Forum and to join hands of cooperation with The Daily Mail through an appropriate MoU of mutual benefits bilateral interests.
In his speech, noted Anchorperson and famous TV Anchorperson of Such TV’s most popular Programs ‘Such Time’ Mr. Asim Raza said that he was very much thrilled by seeing the bilateral cooperation of Pakistani-China collaborations in the media field. He said that he had been hosting a number of programs over the CPEC and other matters related to Pakistan-China relations and has been playing his role as a media professional to elaborate the importance of mega and mutually benefitting projects like the CPEC to raise the level of awareness in this direction amongst the people of Pakistan at the grassroots level. He praised the efforts of The Daily Mail and its Editor-in-Chief for promoting Pakistan-China Friendship and urged for more cooperation in this direction. He called for having Pakistani news at Chinese TV Channels and Chinese News at Pakistani TV Channels in their respective languages to promote friendship beyond the barriers of language.
Senior analyst and former Brigadier of Pakistan Army, Mr. Said Nazir said that he was very much aware of the sensitivities attached to projects like CPEC and was, as a soldier, ready to combat every challenge in this direction. He urged upon the government of Pakistan to pay more attention towards safeguarding such projects from falling victim to propagated conspiracies. He said that there was a huge potential of economic development in the region and especially in Pakistan and projects like CPEC and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road were set bring economic revolutions.
Mr. Javed Akhtar, former Director of Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) and former APP Correspondent at Beijing, said that he was amazed to see the rapid development in the warmth and depth Pakistan Friendship during the past few years. He said that there was need for more and more media endeavors like the Pakistan-China Media Forum and initiatives like Pakistan-China Media Friendship Association must be encouraged to the maximum.
Former Olympian and star of Pakistan Hockey Team Mansoor Ahmad, in his address, floated the idea of promoting Pakistan-China Friendship through more sports activities amongst the two countries. He floated the idea of Hockey diplomacy to promote the Pakistan-China Friendship.
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 Khawar 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.
He thanked all the participants for gracing the occasion with their presence and for sharing their views.
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