Economic corridor bearing fruit
CPEC benefits whole South Asia region: Pakistan minister
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