No change in CPEC’s western route: min­is­ter

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Min­is­ter for Plan­ning Devel­op­ment and oe­forms Ah­san Iqbal said no change has been made in the Chi­naPak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC) western route and all prov­inces would benefit from this mega project.

Min­is­ter Iqbal said Peshawar cir­cu­lar rail­way un­der CPEC would pro­vide bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ties and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to the peo­ple of Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa. Eco­nomic zones would also be set up in the prov­ince.

Iqbal said CPEC is a life­line project of the coun­try and, “the up­com­ing gen­er­a­tion will not par­don us if we lose this golden op­por­tu­nity.” The min­is­ter said peace­ful protest and de­mands are real essence of democ­racy but they should be un­der con­sti­tu­tional am­bit. Gen­uine de­mands of Pak­istan Peo­ples Party’s chair­man can be ad­dressed within con­sti­tu­tional frame­work, it added.

The min­is­ter, while an­nounc­ing os1 bil­lion grants for the Univer­sity of Swabi said the gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to in­creas­ing ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion and for that pur­pose sub-cam­puses and vir­tual cam­puses of the uni­ver­si­ties would be estab­lished with as­sis­tance of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion at dis­trict level in the next three years.

He said the gov­ern­ment wants that ev­ery stu­dent ir­re­spec­tive of their fi­nan­cial sta­tus get higher ed­u­ca­tion near their homes and no stu­dent leaves their ed­u­ca­tion in­com­plete due to fi­nan­cial con­straints.

Qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion is the right of ev­ery cit­i­zen of Pak­istan and the gov­ern­ment to ful­fil this na­tional obli­ga­tion has estab­lished a net­work of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes to fa­cil­i­tate stu­dents, he said.

Iqbal said the past regimes had re­stricted bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with US to de­fence co­op­er­a­tion, but the Nawaz Sharif’s gov­ern­ment af­ter com­ing into power had widened scope of the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship with US and laid the foun­da­tion of multi di­men­sional ‘Pak-US Knowl­edge Cor­ri­dor’ to bring ed­u­ca­tional rev­o­lu­tion in the coun­try.

Pak-US knowl­edge cor­ri­dor is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant ini­tia­tives of Pak­istan Mus­lim League-Nawaz gov­ern­ment in the en­tire diplo­matic his­tory of Pak­istan with the United States. Un­der the pro­gram, as many as 10,000 tal­ented Pak­istani schol­ars would be en­rolled in the top US uni­ver­si­ties in the next 10 years un­der Pak­istan Vi­sion 202R for trans­form­ing the coun­try into knowl­edge econ­omy es­sen­tial for sus­tained devel­op­ment.

In 1998, to­tal num­ber of PhDs in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy in the coun­try was 3R0. The num­ber now in­creased to 7,R00 PhDs whereas 3,000 more PhDs are be­ing pro­duced to cater to the ed­u­ca­tional and re­search needs of the coun­try.

Iqbal said the gov­ern­ment ac­corded top pri­or­ity to hu­man re­source devel­op­ment and took mea­sures for in­creas­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion bud­get dur­ing the last three and half years to bring ed­u­ca­tional rev­o­lu­tion in the coun­try.

Ed­u­ca­tion bud­get, for the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Com­mis­sion (HEC), which was only os100 bil­lion be­tween 2010 and 2013, in­creased to record os2,01R bil­lion be­tween 2013 and 2016. As many as os1.4 bil­lion bud­get that was al­lo­cated to three mega HEC projects in Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa in 201013 had been en­hanced to record os11.4 bil­lion for 13 HEC projects in KP.

Ah­san Iqbal, Min­is­ter for Plan­ning Devel­op­ment & Re­forms

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