Pakistan, China agree to accelerate progress on key CPEC projects

Islamabad: Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistani Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives held a meeting with Zhao Chenxin, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) at the NDRC headquarters in Beijing on Friday afternoon.

He was accompanied by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Syed Tariq Fatemi, Ambassador of Pakistan to China Khalil Hashmi and other senior officials of the Embassy, said an official statement issue here.

Recalling the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a decade ago, the Minister said: “the decade of CPEC has been a remarkable journey. since 2013, the relevant institutions from the two sides have worked as one team and successfully implemented key energy and physical infrastructure projects, laying a strong foundation for the next phase of CPEC.”

Zhao Chenxin, Vice Chairman, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China appreciated the role and leadership of Minister Planning & Development Ahsan Iqbal in making CPEC a success. He said, “you are greatly respected for your valuable contribution towards CPEC.”

While reviewing progress during the first phase of CPEC, both sides expressed their resolve to accelerate the progress on the high-quality development of the Project, as it transitions to its next phase. Recalling the five Corridors, announced by Vice Premier He Lifeng during his visit to Pakistan last year, Minister for Planning renewed the commitment of the Government of Pakistan to even further enhance the socio-economic benefits of CPEC, with significant improvement to the lives and livelihoods of the people. Emphasizing the importance of deepening bilateral energy cooperation, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal conveyed to the Chinese side the interest of the Government of Pakistan to diversify the country’s energy mix through transition towards clean and renewable energy. In that context, he sought Chinese government’s continued cooperation and support for the early implementation of the Azad Pattan and Kohala Hydel Power Projects. Recalling the consensus achieved by both leaderships on the early implementation of ML-I and KKH realignment projects, Ahsan Iqbal reiterated the strategic significance of these projects and highlighted the benefits of enhanced connectivity for both countries.

In that context, both sides agreed to accelerate internal procedures for the early implementation of these projects. Both sides also discussed enhancing road and highway infrastructure cooperation by signing four MoUs for launching technical studies on Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob Road; Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Manshehra Mororway; Babusar Tunnel; and Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway.

Underscoring the importance of industrial cooperation, both sides agreed to implement Industrial Cooperation Framework Agreement and develop an Action Plan for the modernization of industry, agriculture and mines and mineral sectors.

Both China and Pakistan would prioritize cooperation on Artificial Intelligence and agriculture modernization in the second phase of CPEC. The socio-economic development of Balochistan including Gwadar remains top priority for both the Governments.

In that context, both sides agreed to enhance connectivity of the coastal city of Gwadar including by constructing Eastbay Expressway to fully harness the potential of its port and industrial zone.

Both sides also agreed to hold the next round of CPEC’s Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), to be co-chaired by Prof. Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives before the Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to China.