Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached Gwadar on Sunday where he inaugurated the shipment of trade goods from Gwadar Port to international markets, marking the historic launch of trade activity through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
During his day-long visit to Gwadar, the prime minister addressed a ceremony marking the launch of the first mega pilot trade cargo.
PM Nawaz while addressing the ceremony emphasised Pakistan’s commitment to China’s One Belt One Road initiative. “We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the CPEC and all the projects under its umbrella are materialised within the given time,” he said.
“This idea was conceived only two years ago, and this day marks the breaking of the dawn of a new era.”
In an attempt to put the concerns of smaller provinces to rest, PM Nawaz firmly reiterated “CPEC is for entire Pakistan and no region or province will be left out of it.”
The prime minister was accompanied by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif.
At the start of the ceremony, DG Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) Major General Muhammad Afzal briefed the participants of the gathering on the CPEC.
Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong also addressed the participants.
Balochistan Chief Minister (CM) Nawab Sanaullah Zehri addressing the ceremony said, “Due to the government’s hectic efforts, the active participation of our security forces and all-out cooperation fo the people of Balochistan, we have succeeded in curbing anti-state elements, and the law and order situation has improved.”
Moreover, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong told the ceremony today, “This the first time that a trade convoy successfully passed through the western part of Pakistan from the north to the south. It proves the connectivity of the local roads and the realisation of the concept of one corridor with multiple passages.”
“This is the first time that the Gwadar port is exporting containers to overseas destinations. It proves the port has restored it designed handling capacity,” he said. “This is also the first time that Pakistan and China co-organised a trade convoy through Pakistan to Gwadar port.”
Zehri’s claims come a day after a brutal attack on a shrine in Balochistan’s Khuzdar area claimed at least 52 lives and injured over 100 other people.
Director General Inter-Services Public Relations Asim Bajwa said the first mega trade convoy of containers has arrived from China and will be loaded onto ships.
The trade caravan reached Gwadar from China under the strict security cover of Pakistan Army and other security agencies and would now be shipped to its next export destinations.
“This is the onset of the progress that has been awaited for years. But now this journey will continue till the times to come,” the prime minister house said in a statement on Saturday.
Gwadar is said to be nature’s gift to Pakistan and Chinese friendship and cooperation has made it more valuable to both the countries. “We are crossing new milestone into a new era of international relations,” the statement added.
Gwadar Port is rich with new possibilities not only for Pakistan and China but also for the rest of the world, with a large scope of import and export activity from Central Asia to the Middle East.
The shipment of first trade cargo from Gwadar to the international market heralds a changed Pakistan.
Starting its journey from Kashghar, the trade cargo reached Gwadar safely from Gilgit-Baltistan after travelling across the country – a manifestation of the image of a peaceful Pakistan.
Every region of Pakistan is slated to benefit from the CPEC, which is a comprehensive project of peace and economic progress. Besides Pakistan and China, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian states will also be able to take advantage of the project.
Besides enhancing communication network, supply, trade and cultural links, the Corridor will also help promote peace, resources and harmony in the region.
The government has already allocated land for Gwadar Free Trade Zone and has also announced concessions for Gwadar Port and Free Trade Zone in Balochistan.
Moreover, the projects of Exclusive Industrial Park Processing Zone and Mineral Economic Zone are also being executed on a priority basis.
-Other development projects for Gwadar-
A project worth Rs 25 billion is being executed for the development of Gwadar city keeping in view its importance. The federal government gave a free hand to the provincial government in that regard that designed the project considering Gwadar’s basic needs. The provincial government is implementing the project and the resources are being provided by the federal government.
The federal government provided resources for the installation of a plant to make the sea water drinkable, besides launching an additional Rs 11.5 billion projects for clean drinking water to Gwadar during 2015-16.
The quality of underground water is also being improved and the existing 50-bed hospital is being upgraded to a 300-bed facility.
A university, and a technical and vocational training institute are also being set up in Gwadar to produce required manpower. The locals will be preferred for enrollment in these institutes.
Under CPEC, the government has prioritised energy and road infrastructure. To meet the electricity needs, a 300-megawatt power plant is being installed in Gwadar that will also be linked to the national grid.
A Special Security Force has been raised to provide a security cover to the Chinese investors. Gwadar is also being made a safe city that will boost investors’ confidence.
The construction of a new international airport is also underway in Gwadar to facilitate the movement of investors. Moreover, Gwadar city is also being connected with rest of the country through road and rail networks.