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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Propaganda about CPEC halt untrue: Asim Bajwa

The Propaganda that suggested that CPEC is at a halt is utterly untrue, said SAPM Asim Bajwa in an interview with Dr Moeed Pirzada

SAPM Bajwa lamented the propaganda about CPEC that stated that the project was at a halt. He said that even though due to a lack of central authority some projects had gotten bottlenecked before, this had been solved by the creation of the CPEC authority.

CPEC authority was created last year and SAPM Asim Bajwa is its first head.

The propaganda that CPEC at a halt is untrue 

There was propaganda being put out by various parties that CPEC has been abandoned as per pressure from the USA, but that was never the case said, Bajwa. He said that CPEC is a strong commitment with the Chinese government and with the creation of CPEC authority, the projects that were being slowed due to technical issues were also on their way to completion.

This time last year there were speculations particularly in the Indian media that CPEC was being halted.

Read more: Pakistan’s Special Economic Zones: Challenges & Opportunities ahead

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which was described by Pakistan as its gateway to economic prosperity, has slowly but surely come to a halt. Dogged resistance from Baloch nationalists, missed deadlines and massive corruption among Pakistani policymakers have led to a situation where China is refusing to meet the commitments it had made of investments in CPEC.” The Sunday Guardian Live had reported. 

General Bajwa said these were simply blatant lies and propaganda. The CPEC was in fact now moving to the second phase after the completion of the first.

SAPM Bajwa mentioned that in the next phase of CPEC, the country would be revolutionized by the ML1 railway project. The ML1 railway would enhance the logistics system to the level of advance nations for Pakistan.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) in August approved the strategically important Mainline-1 railway project of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) worth $6.8 billion, paving way for loan negotiations with Beijing, which would finance 90% of the cost.

The government had found a clever compromise to commence work on the project so that the concerns of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about debt sustainability could be addressed.

In the first phase, Pakistan will undertake only $2.4 billion worth of construction work due to “Pakistan’s commitments to the IMF programme”, according to official documents.

The country has designed the “package-1” of ML-1 keeping in mind the IMF ceiling that restricts its spending on the project during its programme period at $2.5 billion.

The ceiling will not affect the pace of construction as work on “package-2” of the project – costing worth $2.7 billion — will start a year after work on “package one” has kicked off.

Work on “package-3” costing $1.7 billion will start two years after the first package, according to the summary of Ecnec.

The priority will be the Lahore-Karachi transit due to its economic importance and potential but other cities are expected to be included in later phases of the project.

The dependency of road transit would reduce making operations significantly smoother, increase efficiency and make the transportation of resources and goods much less tedious. Connecting the country is a revolutionary manner. 1870 kilometres of the rail is expected to be laid during the project.

The retired general Asim Bajwa said that there was an acute need for the creation of a CPEC authority because a lot of projects were being bottlenecked due to the different ministries that the investors had to reach out to in order for approvals.

The CPEC authority makes one window operations for the Chinese investors and hence smoothens the processes involved.

ML1 projet will change Pakistan

Underpasses, overpasses, modern fencing and human resource system aided by new technical universities are expected to make travelling in Pakistan much more efficient.
This novel phase of the CPEC may extend borders although in the long-term.

This would make Afghanistan much more stable and pegged to the stability of Pakistan. As far as the Chabahar port which India had claimed would snub the Gwadar port, is concerned it is not nearly as extensive as the Gwadar project.

Gwadar is expected to be connected to Quetta, and hence the rest of the country making the project very extensive.

Read more: FIEDMC attracts foreign investors through Roadshow in London

In the long-term, the railway system is expected to extend to Torkham to increase the economic cooperation between the two nations.

When asked what has been achieved in the CPEC project as of yet, the retired General said that the phase: 1 of the project was nearing completion with the Gwadar port, energy infrastructures, and communication coordination were almost complete between the two countries.

Electricity to become cheaper in the future

He said that electricity production was being restructured from fuel sourced to hydropower and other cheaper forms of energy. Power shortages however had been significantly mitigated.

Gwadar is not according to the SAPM fully functional, ships are arriving and leaving the port. Freights from Afghanistan have also been arriving in Gwadar, creating economic activity for both nations.

The SAPM also mentioned that the prime minister was very interested in the transference of the economic activity to the people of Balochistan and the new port was going to bring a lot of employment and economic activity to the people there. The next phase in the development of the port, a free zone has to be created there which is meant to increase the economic activity there many-fold.

When asked about the water availability in the area he said that it was better than last year and two desalination centres with the capability to purify 5 million gallons of water per day are to be made for the developing city. One of these is to be provided by china and one to be made locally.

The port was also imperative in the “blue economy” that the government was now to focus on. The Maritime trade was the future of Pakistan he said.

Speaking more on phase 2 of the CPEC plan. The SAPM said that nine new special economic zones were being created. With three of them being ‘preferred zones.’ These zones are expected to increase the investments into Pakistan many-fold.

“We are so strongly bonded with China, we need to change this emotional closeness, to a long term economic relationship.”

Lastly responding to the propaganda that CPEC was going to be halted, the former Lt general said that the only parties that mattered were the Pakistani public, their Chinese counterparts and both of them were extremely pleased with the progress being made. As far as disinformation was concerned, the truth always prevails, and soon the hard work done would bear fruit.

GVS News Desk