CPEC the crown jewel in China, Pakistan friendship



Calling the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor an exemplar of friendship between the two countries, Ahsan Iqbal, a senior Pakistani official, said there has always been "spring" in the relations between Pakistan and China which are always moving on an upward trajectory.

CPEC, which was launched in 2013 and a flagship project under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, has "benefited Pakistan's economy immensely", Iqbal, the federal minister for planning, development and special initiatives, said on Thursday in Beijing.

Pakistan looks forward to further cooperating with China to seek shared economic growth as CPEC has entered into its second phase, he added.

"The garden of friendship between Pakistan and China in every season has blossomed new and colorful flowers of cooperation and understanding between the people of Pakistan and China," the minister said.

Iqbal lauded CPEC for transforming the development landscape of, creating jobs for and building connectivity for his country.

"CPEC has helped Pakistan transform its energy and infrastructure sectors and connect several parts of the country so the fruits of development can be shared across various regions of Pakistan," Iqbal said.

"It also helped create over two million jobs and helps Pakistan's workers master new technology and get trained in projects," he added.

Iqbal slammed the so-called debt trap narrative as far from reality and expressed appreciation for China's financial support which he said has been "very attractive financing for Pakistan".

Iqbal said China outlined five corridors under CPEC last year, namely growth, livelihood, openness, inclusivity and innovation, which were well aligned with 5-E's framework, namely Export, Energy, Equity, E-Pakistan and Environment, envisioned by the government of Pakistan.

Pakistan needs to take advantage of the new digital revolution to transform its growth model and is looking forward to green energy projects to cope with threats posed by climate change, he said.

Iqbal hoped through discussions with Chinese officials that the two sides would be able to work out the roadmap to implement the second phase of CPEC.

Iqbal arrived in Beijing on Wednesday as part of the high-level interactions between China and Pakistan; this was the first high-level visit to China since the new Pakistani government came to power in March.

In another development, Iqbal denounced terrorist attacks as "dirty tricks" by those who attempt to foil the progress of CPEC and set obstacles in two countries' friendship.

Speaking of the Dasu terrorist attack in March, which killed five Chinese and one Pakistani, he said the incident had been sponsored by such elements across Pakistan's border and they were enemies of friendship between the two countries.

"But my message to them is that such incidents cannot stop the progress of CPEC. Pakistan and China will defeat these elements," Iqbal said.

"We will do whatever is in our human resources possible to provide extra security for our Chinese brothers and sisters working in Pakistan," he added.

According to the minister, Pakistan has further enhanced security on the projects where there are a large number of Chinese workers working.

It has also enhanced the security in terms of support of paramilitary forces and police, and strengthened protocols of security, he said.