Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Sunday said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become a reality with the starting off the first shipment of trade cargo from the Gwadar Port to the international destinations.
Terming the arrival of the first trade convoy at Gwadar Port as ‘a watershed event’, the Prime Minister said the CPEC project, conceived by the leadership of China and Pakistan, had materialized, bringing a dawn of immense trade and commerce opportunities for the whole region. Addressing a ceremony of the launching of the first mega pilot trade cargo, he said Pakistan was a proud partner of China and assured that his government would leave no stone unturned to complete all the development projects under the aegis of CPEC on time.
He said CPEC also manifested the desire of the leadership of two countries for shared prosperity through a broader and solid cooperation.
He also lauded the Chinese President for his vision of the regional prosperity. The CPEC was the fusion of Chinese President’s concept of ‘belt and road’ project which came as integrating the trade and commerce activities of the various regional countries through enhanced connectivity, thus transforming Pakistan into major hub of trade and commerce, he added. The Prime Minister said Pakistan enjoyed the unique geo-strategical location, standing at the crossroads of South Asia, China an the Central Asia, and changing fate of three billion people of the region and in future would serve as hub of a major trade zone.
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zakaullah Khan, Federal Ministers Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Advisor on National Security Nasir Khan Janjua, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, a number of ambassadors, FWO officials, Chinese dignitaries, Sino Trans company officials, members of provincial assemblies, notables and elders were present on the occasion.
The Prime Minister said today they had gathered to witness the dream of CPEC turning into reality and further strengthening of bilateral ties between the two countries that stood the test of times. He reiterated that CPEC was going to be a reality and would open a world of opportunities for the both countries and the region. Comparing the Gwadar port as a ‘jewel in the CPEC crown’, he expressed the confidence that due to its geo-strategic prime location, it would play a pivotal role in future trade and cargo activities.
He said the vision of exclusive and sustained development must reach to those who had been mired in poverty and deprivation and in this regard, CPEC would provide benefits to the all the underdeveloped areas of the country including Balochistan, KPK, FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan. He assured that no area of the country would be left out of the fruits of prosperity from various CPEC development projects.
He expressed the hope that with the execution of various development projects, the bilateral relations between the two countries would reach to further heights. He said a new era of prosperity had not only ushered in Balochistan but spanned the length and breadth of the country.
The Prime Minister said the construction of new roads had brought peace and prosperity in the province. He said the government and the armed forces rendered efforts to make local people as the main stakeholders of the project, adding faces of residents would now gleam with prosperity. He said the federal government had spent Rs 75 billion for the construction of roads projects in the province whereas projects worth Rs 200 billion would be launched soon including Khuzdar-Quetta and DIKhan road dualization.
He lauded the services of Frontier Works Organization (FWO) for the operationalizing of Gwadar port by laying a road network through the rough and difficult terrains of the province.
He paid tributes to the brave forty FWO men who laid down their lives in the construction of these road projects. The Prime Minister also commended the personal support and indulgence of the Chief of Army Staff and Chief Minister Balochistan for executing the development projects, adding the maritime security was being looked after by the Pakistan Navy.
He announced that Khuzdar-Gwadar-Ratodero road would be made operational in 2017 whereas Chaman-Khyber road had been rehabilitated. The federal government had allocated land for the Free Trade Zones whereas a project worth Rs 25 billion was being executed for the development of Gwadar city, keeping in view its importance.
The federal government had given a free hand to the provincial government in this regard that designed the project, considering Gwadar’s basic requirements. The provincial government was implementing the project and the resources were being provided by the federal government, he added.
The Prime Minister said that his government was pursuing uniform development policies for the whole country and endeavoring to preserve harmony in the socio-economic uplift of the people. He said an amount of Rs 11.5 billion was being spent for the clean drinking water supply to Gwadar. In this regard, Shadi Kaur dam was completed whereas work on Basol dam was underway.
The existing 50-bed hospital was being upgraded to 300-bed facility, while a university, and a technical and vocational training institute were also being set up in Gwadar to produce required manpower. Under CPEC, the government has prioritized energy and road infrastructure. To meet the electricity needs, a 300-megawatt power plant was being installed in Gwadar, he added.
The Prime Minister further informed that the government has already allocated land for Gwadar Free Trade Zone with special concessions. Moreover, he said, the projects of Exclusive Industrial Park Processing Zone and Mineral Economic Zone were also being executed on priority basis.
Referring to tragic terrorist attack in Shah Noorani shrine, the Prime Minister said their hearts were saddened and and their thoughts went to the families of the victims. He resolved that such cowardly attacks could not weaken their determination to completely eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country.
He said the Operation Zarb-e-Azb had broken the back of terrorists with countless sacrifices by the personnel of armed forces. He said that they would not rest till Pakistan was brought back to the Quaid’s vision where all people, irrespective of their religion, race or ethnicity, lived in harmony. He underscored the significance of the political stability and said the CPEC was a leapfrog in this regard. The Prime Minister said CPEC was a national programme and the enemies of this mega project were the enemies of Pakistan and China.