QUETTA

The Pak Banker - - FRONT PAGE -

Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif on Wed­nes­day in­au­gu­rated the Gwadar-Hoshab (M-8) road and re­viewed the work be­ing car­ried out on the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC). "The land-locked Cen­tral Asian states are in­ter­ested in trade via the Gwadar port," said the prime min­is­ter. He said on the oc­ca­sion that CPEC would open new vis­tas of de­vel­op­ment and pros­per­ity in the re­gion in gen­eral and ben­e­fit the coun­try in par­tic­u­lar.

The in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony of M8 was at­tended by Chief Min­is­ter Balochis­tan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Chief of Army Staff Gen­eral Ra­heel Sharif, Com­man­der South­ern Com­mand Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Amir Riaz and other high rank­ing mil­i­tary and civil­ian of­fi­cials.

The prime min­is­ter on the oc­ca­sion also praised the ser­vices and sac­ri­fices ren­dered by the Fron­tier Works Or­gan­i­sa­tion (FWO) in the con­struc­tion of CPEC.

"De­spite se­cu­rity prob­lems, work is in full­swing on con­struc­tion of roads in Balochis­tan," added Nawaz.

The Prime Min­is­ter elab­o­rated that af­ter com­ple­tion of CPEC and other re­lated projects, Balochis­tan would not be de­pen­dent for fi­nan­cial aid on the fed­eral govern­ment. "CPEC would en­sure eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of Balochis­tan", he said, adding that the peo­ple of the prov­ince would be ma­jor ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the mega pro­ject.

"Projects can­not be com­pleted through mere slo­gans, rather a strat­egy was im­per­a­tive for com­ple­tion of projects", he said.

The prime min­is­ter also re­it­er­ated his com­mit­ment on the oc­ca­sion and said ef­forts were be­ing made to de­velop Balochis­tan and bring it at par with other parts of the coun­try.

Ear­lier in Jan­uary, Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif had in­au­gu­rated the western route of the (CPEC) in Balochis­tan's Zhob and laid the foun­da­tion stones of two key projects: upgra­da­tion of the Zhob-Mughal Kot sec­tion of the Dera Is­mail Khan-Qila Sai­ful­lah High­way (N-50) and the Qilla Sai­ful­lah-Waigam Rud Road sec­tion of the Multan-Dera Ghazi Khan-Qilla Sai­ful­lah High­way (N-70)

The CPEC is a 3,000-kilome­ter net­work of roads, rail­ways and pipe­lines to trans­port oil and gas from Gwadar Port to Kash­gar city, north­west­ern China's Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion. Pro­posed by Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang dur­ing his visit to Pak­istan in May 2013, the CPEC will act as a bridge for the new Mar­itime Silk Route that en­vis­ages link­ing three bil­lion peo­ple in Asia, Africa and Europe.

An of­fi­cial agree­ment on the cor­ri­dor was signed be­tween the two coun­tries in May this year dur­ing Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping's his­toric visit to Pak­istan.

A flag­ship pro­ject of the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive as well, the CPEC in­tends to re­vive the an­cient Silk Road with a fo­cus on in­fra­struc­ture, and con­sti­tutes the strate­gic frame­work of bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion.

The pro­ject links China's strat­egy to de­velop its western re­gion with Pak­istan's fo­cus on boost­ing its econ­omy, in­clud­ing the in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion of Gwadar Port, to­gether with some en­ergy co­op­er­a­tion and in­vest­ment pro­grams.

It also in­volves road and rail­way con­struc­tion in­clud­ing an upgrade of the 1,300-km Karako­ram High­way, the high­est paved in­ter­na­tional road in the world which con­nects China and Pak­istan across the Karako­ram moun­tains.

The CPEC will re­duce China's routes of oil and gas im­ports from Africa and the Middle East by thou­sands of kilo­me­ters, mak­ing Gwadar a po­ten­tially vi­tal link in China's sup­ply chain.

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