CPEC is no less important than atomic program: Engr. Ahsan

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not less important than the Pakistan’s atomic program and there must be no politics on this project said by Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Prof. Ahsan Iqbal while addressing a seminar on “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): opportunities, priorities and challenges” organised by Punjab University CPEC Study Group. 

He said the CPEC project will be completed by 2030 while its small projects will be operative by 2020. The construction work on Diamer Bhasha Dam will begin in 2017 whereas the Thar Coal Power Project will be completed in the next two to three years. No government paid attention to the energy sector in the past 15 years. 

The construction work of Gwadar-Quetta Road was completed this month. The minister said that Pakistan wants peace in the region but India wants to wage a war. He said, “Hysteria of progress and development” is required in the region instead of the “war hysteria”. 

Iqbal said they would turn Gawadar into a model port city like Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore. An airport, a technical university and hospitals would be built at Gawadar besides establishing the energy projects, he commented. 

He said the infrastructure of all the four provinces and Gilgit Baltistan would also be improved. The minister said after the construction of new rail track, the travel between Karachi and Peshawar would be reduced by half. 

He said the government increased the funding of higher education sector. Rupees 100 billion were allocated from 2010-2013, but the present government allocated 216 billion rupees for the period of 2013-2016. 

Giving a detailed presentation on the project, CPEC Study Group Convener Dr Hafiz Zafar Ahmed said that Pakistan was spending 6.67 percent of its GDP on the project which indicated its importance. He said people of all the provinces and governments would benefit from this project. He said China’s access to Gulf region would be reduced from 12,900 kilometers to 2,500 kilometers and the journey would be reduced from 45 days to 10 days. The CPEC was now a reality and the collaborations between Pakistani and Chinese companies must be promoted. He said the volume of trade through CPEC was estimated at 2.5 trillion dollars. 

Punjab University Vice Chancellor Prof. Mujahid Kamran, senior journalists including Munno Bhai, Sohail Warraich, Tayyaba Zia Cheema, Wasif Nagi, President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industries Abdul Basit Khan, Chairman TEVTA Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, faculty members and a large number of students were present on the occasion.