Eco­nomic cor­ri­dor bear­ing fruit

CPEC ben­e­fits whole South Asia re­gion: Pak­istan min­is­ter

Global Times - Weekend - - WORLD - By Lu Wen’ao

The China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) ini­tia­tive has en­tered a new fruit­ful era, ac­cord­ing to Pak­istan’s Min­is­ter for In­te­rior and Min­is­ter for Plan­ning, De­vel­op­ment and Re­forms.

“CPEC has en­tered the phase where its fruits and div­i­dends are be­gin­ning to be vis­i­ble,” Ah­san Iqbal told the Global Times in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view.

“All CPEC projects have be­come re­al­ity and have con­vinced even the worst skep­tics who taught us this is just an il­lu­sion.”

Pak­istan was trou­bled by an en­ergy cri­sis for years, but things are get­ting bet­ter now thanks to the cor­ri­dor, Iqbal said on Thurs­day.

The Sahi­wal coal power project be­gan pro­duc­tion in July, pro­vid­ing 1,320 megawatts (mW) of en­ergy for Pak­istan.

An­other 1,320 mW power project, Qasim power project, is ex­pected to be com­pleted by the end of this year, ac­cord­ing to Iqbal.

“They of­fer very valu­able power to Pak­istan when it comes to an en­ergy cri­sis,” he said.

Iqbal also ex­pressed his hope of speed­ing up an­other mega project – the Di­amerBhasha Dam – which will pro­duce 4,500 mW of clean hy­dropower elec­tric­ity upon com­ple­tion.

“Pak­istan faces a se­ri­ous water se­cu­rity chal­lenge,” said Iqbal. “We are in the area with a high cli­mate-change threat: Our glaciers are melt­ing, our water is de­creas­ing and the pop­u­la­tion is grow­ing.”

Iqbal also said his coun­try hopes through co­op­er­a­tion with China to build reser­voirs on the In­dus River, which could also al­le­vi­ate Pak­istan’s water se­cu­rity chal­lenge.

Un­der CPEC, the Gwadar Port in South­west Pak­istan be­came op­er­a­tional in Novem­ber 2016 and has turned into an “in­ter­na­tional port of the fu­ture,” he said.

Orig­i­nally val­ued at $46 bil­lion, the value of CPEC projects has now reached the $65 bil­lion mark.

CPEC is seen as the main plank of the China-pro­posed Belt and Road ini­tia­tive.

Iqbal also dis­missed sug­ges­tions by In­dian politi­cians that CPEC will jeop­ar­dize South Asian sta­bil­ity.

“CPEC is not against any­one but is for ev­ery­one. If there’s more re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity and co­op­er­a­tion, ev­ery­one will ben­e­fit.” Iqbal said.

“Soon In­dia will re­al­ize op­pos­ing CPEC is not even in their in­ter­est. It will also help them do bet­ter trade with China and Cen­tral Asia re­publics.”

Pak­istan’s In­te­rior Min­is­ter Ah­san Iqbal

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