ISLAMABAD ( STAFF REPORT )
Lt. Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Chairman CPEC Authority, has said that the second phase of CPEC which has been just begun is all about taking the dividends of the project to the people of Pakistan. He said that unprecedented socio-economic development in Gwadar and other parts of Balochistan have been initiated with a focus on ensuring the participation of local people in all the development projects. He said this while chairing a special online dialogue titled ‘Gwadar Port, free economic zone’s role in the prosperity of Balochistan & regional connectivity’ organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Friday.
While dispelling the impression of the slowing down of the project, Gen. Bajwa said that we are picking up the momentum to advance the project instead. He said that the good news for industry is that the agreement on establishing Rashakai Special Economic Zone would be signed in the third week of August. He added further that Gwadar port as well as Gwadar airport have become fully functional now and Afghan Transit Trade has started to get diverting towards the Gwadar.
He said that the National Development Council, during its recent meeting has decided to pay special focus on the development of Balochistan. The Gwadar District Economic Zone is being developed in addition to developing Gwadar City. Besides, vocational training is being provided to enable local population to participate and get fully benefitted from the development projects.
Yao Jing, Ambassador of the People Republic of China to Pakistan, while sharing his views with the participants as special guest on the occasion said that Gwadar has huge potential for the development and regional connectivity. He said that the government of Pakistan and all concerned authorities including CPEC Authority have played vital role in moving the project forward. Therefore, several economic initiatives have already been taken by the Chinese government as well as Chinese companies with the help of local partners.
He added further that Gwadar is not just a port but a comprehensive business project and thanks to tax incentives announced by the Government of Pakistan, the area now offers a lot of potential for the trade and investment. He said that Chinese government is committed to provide all the resources that may be required for the future development needs of Gwadar. He said that China wants to expand its cooperation for the development of whole Balochistan and cooperation in agricultural development is being worked upon including testing cotton seed in Balochistan.
Director General (China) at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), M Muddasir Tipu, highlighted the potential of cooperation between China and Pakistan in various sector of economy and said that fishery and meat packaging areas need to be special focused. The transit trade that has been just started from the Gwadar is a huge milestone for the future economic activities and connectivity in the region.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri; Executive Director, SDPI, earlier underpinned the significance of enhancing cooperation in the field of agriculture and food security, said that it was agricultural sector that has been instrumental in ensuring food security in Pakistan during the pandemic.
“Developing Special Economic Zones for agriculture under CPEC would play a key role in linking Pakistani Agri-based commodities to get linked with Chinese food value chain,” Dr Suleri said and added further that corporate agriculture forming is another area that needs to be explored under the mutual cooperation in order to ensure livelihood as well as food security in Pakistan.
Mr Zhang Baozhong, Chairman COPHC, was of view that Gwadar port is ushering the era of economic development in the entire region. Mr Zahid Latif Khan, Chairman ISE (R) and Mr Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, Director Asia Study Centre, SDPI, also shared their views while highlighting diverse aspects of Gwadar port’s contribution in regional connectivity.