Interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Tuesday stressed on the “unique” relationship between Pakistan and China, adding that no one will be allowed to undermine it.
Addressing a conference on the sidelines of the 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, he emphasized the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) over the past decade. It was time, he said, to identify its successes, review the lessons learned, and chart out a path for the next phase of the project. He said both China and Pakistan, in recent meetings, had agreed to convert CPEC into a corridor of growth, livelihood, innovation, openness and green development.
As part of this goal, Kakar invited China to invest in solar parks to support Pakistan’s fight against climate change and help reduce the country’s energy import bill. He said Pakistan also wanted to learn from China’s models for building industrial parks and special economic zones. Describing CPEC as a manifestation of the strategic ties between the neighboring countries, he said it was a “catalyst of growth, poverty alleviation and jobs creation.”
Emphasizing that CPEC was more than “just an economic corridor,” the caretaker said it was also a symbol of Pak-China strategic trust. Clarifying that CPEC had transformed the socioeconomic landscape of Pakistan, he said it had upgraded infrastructure, enhanced regional connectivity and ensured energy security. Since the launch of CPEC in 2015, he recalled, 800km of roads had been constructed and 8,000MW electricity generated, in addition to 200,000 new jobs.
Referring to the Chinese vice president’s visit to Pakistan in August, he said the official had outlined five corridors of comprehensive development, including growth, livelihood, innovation, greenness, and openness. He suggested a “deeper integration” of the economy in the next phase of CPEC to maximize the development potential for the mutual benefit of both countries.
“I myself come from Balochistan, an underdeveloped province of Pakistan, and generally believe that CPEC is a beacon of development, progress, and prosperity for the people of my province,” he said, adding that the collobration could unlock opportunities of progress and regional connectivity in Gwadar. Pakistan and China should also strengthen energy linkages between Gilgit and Xingiang, he suggested.
The interim prime minister said he would discuss closer collaboration between Pakistan and China in various fields during an upcoming visit to Urumqi in China. He said the potential of Pakistan’s youth bulge was unleashed due to CPEC. “It is already proving to be a catalyst for job creation, poverty alleviation, and rural revitalization, giving strength to the vulnerable and underprivileged apart from reaching the remote sections of society,” he said.
Kakar said Pakistan was open to including any state that wished to avail the benefits of CPEC, adding skill development and vocational training programs were critical for the success of CPEC.
Addressing the conference, Chinese academics and scholars underscored the importance and significance of CPEC as a great partnership between Pakistan and China. They also reaffirmed the interest of Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan’s Special Economic Zones and contribute to the further growth of CPEC, enhanced regional connectivity and sustainable development.