CPEC Phase 2 to make Pak centre of trade: Ahsan

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BEIJING
Federal Minister of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, Prof Ahsan Iqbal hoped that there would be more regional cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Phase 2 which would make Pakistan the center of trade, commerce, and business in the region.
We hope that in phase two, we will have more regional cooperation under CPEC, and that will make Pakistan the center of trade, commerce, and business in the region that will connect almost three billion people in this region, he said in an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN) during his recent visit to China.
About the specific impact of CPEC on Pakistan and its people, he said that it has brought transformational changes in Pakistan. CPEC has created more than 200,000 jobs. It has connected many parts of the country, has improved logistics efficiency in Pakistan, and has helped Pakistan achieve energy efficiency. Now, we are looking forward to the second phase of CPEC.
He said that the government will undertake under second phase of CPEC projects that will spur growth in Pakistan’s economy, which will involve infrastructure projects.
Under livelihood projects, we will expand our cooperation and industrial domain, also, the agriculture sector that will enable people to improve their livelihoods will create jobs. Third innovation corridor means that we intend to now expand our cooperation in digital technology domains like artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, big data, and biotechnology, he added.
Terming green energy is very important, he said, We are now starting new renewable energy projects. We are starting new hydro projects and making a transition from imported fuel, which used to be oil-based or coal-based. In response to a question about the safety of Chinese nationals and enhanced measures taken by the government to guarantee security for ongoing and upcoming projects under the CPEC, he said, I want to assure Chinese people that the government of Pakistan values them as very precious and important guests and will leave no possible human effort to give them added security.
Some external enemies want to stall the progress CPEC, who are not happy with the progress of CPEC. So, they carry out such attacks. And I think it is very important that we do not let any such unfortunate incident stall or stop the speed of CPEC, because then they have won, he added.
The minister said that there is a dedicated 12,000 force of Pakistan army under a major general whose mission is to only protect and safeguard Chinese people working on different projects. In addition, police paramilitary forces also augment this force.
About the key agreements and discussions to advance the next phase of the CPEC, and reinforce the all-weather friendship between China and Pakistan, he said, In any bilateral relationship over 70 years, you will find that there are ups and downs. But between Pakistan and China’s relationship, there is only an upward trajectory. There is no autumn. It is always in the spring season.
We are looking forward to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China. In this visit, we hope the outcomes will materialize the goals that we have set up for phase two, he added. — DNA