BEIJING,, Jan 9 (TNS):Federal Minister for Interior and Planning, Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal has said that Long Term Plan (LTP) of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) provided a conceptual framework for the CPEC up to 2030, and also delivered a framework for the industrialization in the country.
“To finalize the LTP, the government consulted the provinces, the federal ministries, and their respective technical groups,” he said in his interview published in ‘Beijing Review’ here on Tuesday.
He said that the plan was completely in line with the seven pillars of the Pakistan Vision 2025, which were founded on the economic principles of inclusive and sustainable development.
“The seven salient features of the LTP are connectivity, energy, trade and industrial parks, agricultural development and poverty alleviation, tourism, cooperation in areas concerning people’s livelihoods and non-governmental exchanges and financial cooperation,” he added.
The minister said, “CPEC will greatly speed up the industrialization and urbanization process in Pakistan and help it grow into a highly inclusive, globally competitive and prosperous country capable of providing high-quality life to its citizens.”
Terming it a route to success and sharing some of the significant features of CPEC’s long-term plan for industrialization of Pakistan, he said that connectivity was the cornerstone of development, adding, “It increases the flow of goods, information and people across regions.”
He said that an integrated transport system was central to the LTP which included the construction and development of Kashgar-Islamabad, Peshawar-Islamabad-Karachi, Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan, Sukkur-Gwadar Port and Dera Ismail Khan-Quetta-Sohrab-Gwadar road infrastructure, which sought to improve connectivity within Pakistan and interconnectivity with China.
“The development of Gwadar Port City, Gwadar airport and Easy Bay expressway are going to transform the city of Gwadar into a maritime trade hub and a new smart port city for the region. It will also lead to the industrialization of Balochistan,” he added.
Ahsan Iqbal opined that information technology was another crucial aspect for development.”In this regard, we have laid a cross-border fiber optic cable between Pakistan and China, and agreed to cooperate in promoting the technologies of the fourth industrial revolution in Pakistan.”
He said that in the energy sector, both countries would enhance cooperation in the fields of oil and gas, electricity and power grids and added the focus is on thermal power, hydropower, coal gasification, renewable power generation and modernizing power transmission networks.
He said that the CPEC had already addressed the major energy bottleneck in Pakistan, and over half of the 10,000 MW energy added recently to the national grid came from CPEC cooperation.
To build an industrial base, he said, new industrial parks and special economic zones would be built all over the country.
“Both countries will cooperate to improve efficiency in the textile and garment industries, which together make up the backbone of Pakistan’s export sector. Engineering-based industries will also be developed in Pakistan,” he added.
The minister said that it was important to note that no country has successfully industrialized without also modernizing its agricultural sector.
“CPEC will allow us to modernize agriculture through the introduction of new technologies such as biological breeding and drip irrigation. The emphasis is to improve the income of small farmers by increasing their productivity and efficiency.”
He said that coastal tourism could also become a new niche for Pakistan, adding, “CPEC will allow us to build coastal leisure and vacationing centers across the Keti-Bander-Karachi, Sonmiani-Ormara, Jhal Jhao, Gwadar and Jiwani routes.”
He said that the CPEC was about cooperation at all levels between both countries, including non-government organizations and people-to-people interactions.
“For the cross-fertilization of ideas and cultures, the exchange of students, tourists and academics will be an integral component of the corridor’s plans,” he added.
The minister said that Pakistan and China would also be enhancing monetary cooperation between their central banks.
“Both countries agree on bilateral currency swap arrangements and would prefer making payments in Renminbi and rupees regarding CPEC projects rather than any third-party currency,” he added.
According to the LTP, he said, the implementation of CPEC would take place in three phases, each with clear goals.
“In the first phase, to be achieved by 2020, the major bottlenecks in Pakistan’s socio-economic development will be addressed in their entirety, and “CPEC shall start to boost the economic growth along it for both countries,” as stated in the LTP document.
The second phase will be completed by 2025, when all the infrastructure of CPEC will be ready and all industrial projects will have been completed. As a result, CPEC will have a major impact on the livelihoods of people living along the corridor. The goals of Vision 2025 will be achieved and there will be more balanced regional economic development.
The third phase of the LTP will mature by 2030, and by then the mechanisms for indigenous, inclusive and sustainable economic growth will be in place in Pakistan.”
Ahsan Iqbal said that as laid out by the LTP, “CPEC’s role in stimulating economic growth in Central Asia and South Asia will be brought into holistic play, and South Asia shall grow into an international economic zone with global influence.”
Pakistan, he said was a democratic country where provincial governments were not only autonomous, but were also led by different political parties which were staunch opponents of each other.
Nonetheless, the federal government and all provincial governments were united in making the LTP and CPEC a game changer for Pakistan, he added.
He said, “Pakistan was a country full of promise and potential but due to the strategic mistakes of the past, we haven’t realized our true development potential.”
He said that the PML-N government was committed to prioritizing the economic interests of the country by engaging in the geo-economics, as opposed to the geopolitics, of the region through CPEC.
Ahsan Iqbal said that CPEC was a major opportunity for Pakistan to transform itself as an economic nation and became a regional hub for trade, commerce and manufacturing.
“Without industrialization we cannot resolve many of our socio-economic problems, and CPEC represents a fantastic chance to become an industrialized country.”
He said that the sustainability of this qualitative shift mandated the collective support of all the stakeholders in our nation, including the media, to turn this dream project borne of the Pakistan-China friendship into an everlasting joint enterprise for a shared future and prosperity.
He said that despite political events in the country, the Seventh Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was successfully held a month and a half ago in Islamabad.