The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is one of the most important projects for the economic revival of Pakistan, said Khalid Mansoor, special assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister on CPEC affairs.
“CPEC’s phase two will be developing an industrial hub in the country, providing many opportunities for local and foreign investors,” Mansoor told Chinese media here on Wednesday.
Underlining the importance of CPEC to uplifting the agriculture sector of his country, Mansoor said that Pakistan is an agricultural country and its economy depends on the development of the agriculture sector, which meets most of the food requirements of the country.
“There are several areas where we can benefit from the excellent research and experience of Chinese agricultural sector, for improving the quality of the seed, and then benefiting from the research and development to improve our yield, and to improve and modernize our mechanical cultivation and harvesting.”
He said that Pakistan is also working on upgrading its livestock sector and enhancing its meat exports, which can all be expected to achieve with the cooperation of China.
Talking about the commitment of the two countries to make CPEC a green corridor, the official said that they would be growing a number of trees along the CPEC route and “we want to make sure that as the industrial hub is going to be increased, it should not be detrimental for the people’s health and also make sure that it is not polluting the environment by producing emissions.”
Coal power plants working under CPEC in Pakistan are making sure that they use state-of-the-art technology to meet world standards in emissions, removing the apprehensions that they are hazardous to the environment, he said.
The official said that the common people of Pakistan are the ultimate beneficiaries of the CPEC projects.
“We believe that wherever we are putting our industry, the adjoining community should fully benefit…Projects are underway which are going to be improving their health, their education, their livelihood, so specific projects are being developed and there are several projects which are in the implementation stage with the help of China’s grant, including vocational institute, the hospital, the international airport, etc.,” he added.
Apart from job opportunities and livelihood prospects, CPEC is also solving the daily life problems of people, he said, citing the example of the country’s southwest Gwadar district where people had a shortage of clean drinking water and electricity.
“So, we are working very closely with the authorities like Gwadar Development Authority and Gwadar Port Authority, and the Chinese company to make sure of providing all sorts of facilitation to residents of Gwadar.”
Talking about CPEC’s creation of job opportunities for the unemployed in Pakistan, the official said that in phase two, huge jobs opportunities would be created for people and special importance will be attached to their skill enhancement and for that purpose, vocational training institutes will be constructed in special economic zones.
“The strategy is that the unskilled people are going to be trained and hired in the project activity and thereafter, they will get opportunities to earn and support their families.”
On the role of the BRI in Pak-Afghan cooperation, Mansoor said that BRI would unfold a lot of economic opportunities for landlocked Afghanistan, which will get the chance to enhance its exports through regional connectivity offered by the BRI.
“The BRI has got a clear-cut mandate for the regional connectivity, whether it is in Afghanistan or other neighboring countries,” he said, adding that CPEC phase two will not only bring revolution to Pakistan but also benefit Afghanistan.
He said that due to CPEC’s special economic zones, his country is going to be a major manufacturing hub which will not only uplift Pakistan’s economy but will also create huge opportunities for Afghanistan to rebuild and revive its economy.
“Afghanistan is a landlocked country, so it will have to depend on Pakistan for its needs in terms of importing and exporting. So we believe that this regional connectivity through the BRI will be really providing opportunities for us to develop further ties with our brotherly country Afghanistan and also providing the mutual opportunities for the growth of the economy in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the official added.