Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – multi-billion dollar project – was crucial for ending regional poverty.
CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013. Originally valued at $46 billion, the corridor projects were worth $62 billion as of 2017. On Wednesday, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council approved the strategically important Mainline-I railway project of CPEC worth $6.8 billion
“CPEC is a ‘game-changer’ and ‘fate changer,’ which is important for overcoming poverty in the region,” he said during a meeting with Chinese envoy Yao Jing at the Chinese Embassy in the federal capital.
Shehbaz, who is also the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president, said the corridor project and China-Pakistan economic cooperation holds significance in economic revival after the post-coronavirus pandemic.
He was of the view that Pakistan was fortunate to have “good and trustworthy” neighbour China. “Pakistan and China are two trustworthy strategic cooperative partners and iron brothers,” he added.
The PML-N president also highlighted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s leadership, saying that the leader has opted “exemplary ways” for regional and world peace.
Shehbaz also said that China’s “foresight policy” and support for the Afghan peace process in welcoming.
Praising China’s war against Covid-19, he thanked the country and its people for helping Pakistan in dealing with the crisis.
The Chinese envoy hailed the efforts of the PML-N president for the corridor project, bilateral relationship and boosting cooperation.
“The increase in the relationship between the Communist Party of China and the PML-N is welcoming,” he said.
Shehbaz on behalf of his party and the people extended well wishes for China and its leadership.
Yao Jing said: “CPEC is a project of cooperation between the people of both countries, for which we laud the support of every political party, including the N-league.”
The vast economic initiative is intended to upgrade Pakistan’s infrastructure and boost its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, energy projects and special economic zones.
In November of 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia, while some major power projects were commissioned by late 2017.
The potential impact of the massive initiative on Pakistan has been compared to that of the Marshall Plan undertaken by the United States in post-war Europe.