- Tehmina says Pakistan aware of challenges to carry forward development process
In a dig at India’s growing opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Foreign Affairs Secretary Tehmina Janjua on Wednesday castoff New Delhi’s criticism of the game-changing corridor, saying the grounds India gives of its opposition to the mega development initiative are baseless.
Addressing the audience at the annual forum of the Pakistan Council on China (PCC) on the prospects and challenges of CPEC here, she said that the Indian opposition to the development and prosperity of Kashmiris is appalling.
China’s Acting Ambassador Zhao Lijian was keynote speaker on the occasion while former state minister Inamul Haq moderated the first session. The aim of the conference was to help promote better understanding for the future opportunities and challenges in the implementation of the mega project.
Tehmina said that Pakistan’s eastern neighbour has publicly announced its opposition to CPEC. “We are well aware of the challenges we face to carry forward the developmental process under the flagship project of One Belt One Road initiative,” she said.
“The grounds the eastern neighbour give its opposition to CPEC are baseless. They seem nervous at the possibility of the dividends CPEC would bring for Pakistan,” she said. She said that Pakistan was also conscious of the concerns being raised by some others questioning the viability of this project and its implications for Pakistan.
“This strong opposition is not just targeted against Pakistan but is also aimed at striking at the heart of Pakistan-China friendship. It reflects the growing concern about a rising China. We should, therefore, expect an increase in the chorus of negativity and criticism,” the foreign secretary said.
She said that Pakistan believes its long-term prosperity was linked to peace and development. “We need comprehensive approaches to regional peace, stability and prosperity,” she said. “Our long-term vision of economic development is reflected in Vision 2025 which emphasises regional connectivity and economic cooperation,” she said.
She said that CPEC was a natural choice for Pakistan and China. As the flagship project of OBOR, CPEC was destined to serve as a game changer for the whole region, she said. As key-note speaker, Zhao Lijian shed light on this important project for the region. He highlighted the role of Pakistan and China for regional connectivity and trade, saying that the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) carries the virtue of peaceful cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and win-win spirit.
He said that CPEC was an unprecedented undertaking in the history of China-Pakistan relations. “The BRI carries the virtue of peaceful cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, mutual benefit and win-win spirits. This is the great spirit of Silk Road. This is also the guiding principle of CPEC,” he said. After a great heard work, 19 early harvest projects of the CPEC have either been completed or are near completion stage with a total contract amount of $18.5 billion investment landed.
The forum also discussed cultural, educational and economic dimensions of CPEC. Pakistan Council on China President Inamul Haq said that Pakistan and China enjoy a unique history of mutual respect, trust and friendship. He said that PCC created in an effort to improve the level and content of communications between the two countries. He stated that CPEC was the foundation for regional cooperation, improving economic growth and offering trade diversifications.