ISLAMABAD (APP):Minister of Interior and Planning, Development and Reforms Prof Ahsan Iqbal travelled to Gwadar along with a delegation of 20 senior economic journalists from Islamabad on Friday.

The purpose of the visit was to provide journalists a chance to witness developments in Gwadar in different sectors under the framework of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other government projects, a press release said.

The delegation of the journalists visited Gwadar Port Authority, Gwadar Free Zone, Water Desalination Plant, Venue for Gwadar Expo and Summit 2018 and Operative portion of Gwadar Sea Port.

During the visit, the minister gave a detailed presentation to the journalists on CPEC.

He said that the government has kept parliament and media on board at every stage of CPEC’s development because it believes in transparency and media’s role in highlighting Rising Pakistan narrative to the outside world. He explained that he calls CPEC a fate-changer because it came at a time when Pakistan was struggling to actualise its true potential due to infrastructural and energy bottlenecks and adverse security situation in the country.

He clarified the journalists that CPEC is not a product of any favorable policy towards China instead it is a result of alignment between Pakistan’s Vision 2025 and China’s One Belt One Road Vision with focuses on building inter and intra regional connectivity in order to spur socioeconomic growth.

The minister pointed that Pakistan of 2013 must not be forgotten when the international media was labelling it as the most dangerous country and was writing off its socioeconomic future. “Today, due to the prudent government policies the very same media is recognising Pakistan as an emerging economy and the next success story,” he said.

He said periods of dictatorship and political instability not only fracture the evolution of social and political fabric but also greatly hamper the economic growth and development of a country by shying away investors. He said Pakistan needs to learn from China which has become a global economic power by maintaining politically stability and social solidarity in their country.

Ahsan explained that CPEC is a framework of projects spread into four different components including Gwadar city and port development, infrastructure, energy and industrial cooperation. He noted that it must be acknowledged that relentless effort on the part of the government has translated CPEC from an MoU on paper in 2014 to a $46 billion investment project which is changing the fate of Pakistan.

“Benefit of CPEC is not limited to any province or city. CPEC has allowed Pakistan for the first time ever to tap the coal reserves of Thar which has the capacity to provide cheap energy for the next 400 years,” he said.

Ahsan said Thar alone is attracting FDI of over $5 billion is a sign that Pakistan is rising, shining, and destined to prosper.
He said after assuming the office from the first day, the government was focused on bringing a much needed shift in Pakistan’s approach from geo-politics to geo-economics.

He also apprised the journalists that CPEC should not only be seen as a development project but should also be seen as a major shift in Pakistan-China relations from political friendship to concrete socioeconomic partnerships.

“CPEC & OBOR has further increased the geo-strategic importance of Pakistan bringing it into a central nodal position between Asia, South Asia and Central Asia,” he said.

Ahsan said necessary infrastructure and energy will allow Pakistan to become hub of socioeconomic activity between Asia, South Asia and Central Asia with a population of over 3 billion people.

He said importance of CPEC can be gauged from the fact that prior to 2014 China ranked as 13th in terms of foreign direct investment in Pakistan but today it stands at first. He said CPEC will further allow Pakistan to capture major share of China’s relocating light and medium engineering industry which can lead to creation of up to 85 million jobs.

“CPEC will also allow Pakistan to earn economic dividend from its 1000Km long coastal line – economic activity alongside coastal line will help Pakistan to capture major sea trade,” he said.

He urged the journalists to also play a positive role in their capacities in this defining period when Pakistan against all odds is set to achieve its true potential. “The government will always keep its door open to constructive criticism in order to ensure an inclusive Pakistan,” he said.