PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal Wednesday said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a game changer and transformation project that would benefit all provinces, Gilgit Baltistan, FATA and Azad Kashmir and stressed need for political coherence for its successful execution.
Addressing a function as chief guest at Khyber Medical College University (KMU), Ahsan Iqbal said CPEC was a project of national importance, backbone for the economy and social development of the country and will benefit the entire region.
He said it was not one road project, but a multi-sectoral framework covering energy, infrastructure, Gwadar and industrial sector in the country.
“CPEC is not related to one government or a political party as it would go up to 2030 and should not be politicized keeping in view its immense importance for the country,” he said, adding all the provinces would equally reap its benefits.
The Minister said due to CPEC, Pakistan will act like a bridge country between China, Central Asian Republics and Afghanistan.
Ahsan said peace and stability was prerequisite for foreign investment and in case law and order situation, the investment would go to other countries resulting economic backwardness.
While clarifying recent controversies and concerns of some quarters, Ahsan Iqbal said that over $35billion out of $46billion total Chinese investment would be spent on energy related projects through private sector under first phase of CPEC, adding the electricity produced from the energy projects would be included in national grid that would benefit all the federating units equally.
“The main focus of first phase of CPEC was energy sector, once this project was materialized, industrial zones would be established along this corridor that would generate employment opportunities for youth besides alleviating poverty and bolster industrialization.”
He said work on Western route was underway with fast pace and after completion it would bring the less developed areas of Balochistan and KP at par with developed regions of Pakistan.
“The Government was paying special attention to education and had laid the foundation of “Knowledge Corridor’ during the Prime Minister’s successful visit to US under which about 1000 scholars in different disciplines would be sent for PhD studies in top and reputed US universities.
He said in the past regimes, focus was only given to purchase of arms and F-16s from US but now the present government has focused on bolstering cooperation with US in all other sectors including higher education.
In 2013, the duration of load-shedding was 18 to 20 hours which was reduced to six to eight hours in 2015.
He said Incidents of target killings and extortion were alarming in Karachi in 2013, adding PML-N Govt has not only restored peace in Karachi within two years but also brought significant improvement in law and order in Balochistan.
When the PML-N Govt took over, the Minister said the budget of Higher Education Commission (HEC) was only Rs48 billion in 2013 that was increased to record Rs78 billion in 2015.
In 2013, a story of foreign journalist declared Pakistan a dangerous country of the world and in 2015 the same journalist depicted Pakistan as success story and a peaceful country. “Was this not a change,” he questioned.
Referring to 2025 roadmap, the Minister said the Government would strive to include Pakistan in the first 25 developed economies by 2025. “This was not a difficult task and we can achieve anything through complete dedication and professional commitment.
The Minister said Pakistan was making fast progress and positive thinking and hard work was required by the students to achieve laurels in their respective fields. The Minister lauded the contributions and achievement of KMU and assured every possible support to the administration to achieve its goals for benefits of students.