The Pakistani establishment would feel satisfied over a 'diplomatic feat' on Monday, April 23, as the two-day summit of the much talked about China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) started at Karachi's Bagh-i-Jinnah. The event was being hosted by Dawn Media in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Development.
'CPEC a new form of cooperation'
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khqan Abbasi, who was present on the occasion as the chief guest, said Islamabad looked upon the CPEC as a bilateral partnership with Beijing and even dubbed the initiative as a "new form of cooperation".
"Three years ago CPEC was unheard of - today it is known globally. The BRI initiative of Chinese President Xi is a project for generations," Dawn quoted Abbasi as saying.
The prime minister, who replaced the experienced Nawaz Sharif last year after he was disqualified on charges of corruption, also said that Pakistan recently discussed security and connectivity with Afghanistan, its western neighbour with which it has shared a not-so-great rapport over various issues, adding that Kabul too recognised CPEC as an opportunity.
Pakistan is struggling with its external affairs as its sour relations with India, Afghanistan and even old ally United States have put Islamabad at a great disadvantage. Abbasi recently visited Afghanistan on the invitation of its president Ashraf Ghani but even though they spoke on various issues including terror, insiders said the trust factor required to jointly resolve problems was missing.
In these circumstances, the flagging off of the CPEC project would give Pakistan the much-needed boost.
Abbasi said two power projects under the CPEC initiative were completed while the third one was on the verge of completion.
Pakistan's Interior and Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal backed the current PML-N government and said the country made progress and development under its leadership. He also said the hosting of the big event in Karachi showed that the city, which was known for target killings and extortion even five years ago, was changing.
'Pak will become hub of development'
Iqbal also hailed China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) under which the CPEC project is being implemented, as a huge opportunity and hoped that Pakistan would become a "hub of development" with its help.
He also termed CPEC as the biggest flagship project of BRI and said Pakistan made regional connectivity a key component to its Vision2025 project. He also thanked China saying it stood by Pakistan when everybody else had written it off.
'CPEC no debt trap'
The minister also rubbished allegations that the CPEC was a debt trap for Pakistan and said there was nothing to fear for the country's businesses, the Dawn added. He also called all the reservations against the CPEC as a "propaganda".
Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said on the occasion that China blended socialism and market economy for the benefit of the people.
"China wants to see its relationship with Pakistan serve as example for its relations with other states," Dawn quoted Jing as saying. "We look at CPEC as a significant project. I'm proud that after five years of implementation, it [CPEC] has contributed to Pakistan's development," Dawn further cited him as saying.