Long-term CPEC plan is a framework of development in Pakistan: Ahsan Iqbal

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Federal Minister for Interior and Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal said Tuesday that the Long-Term Plan (LTP) created for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will encompass all aspects of the conceptual framework for development in Pakistan, especially industrialisation, till 2030.

In an interview published in Beijing Review, the minister said that his government consulted all provinces, federal ministers and technical groups before finalising the framework.

He said the plan was developed in the light of Pakistan Vision 2025 which comprised of seven pillars. “The salient features of the plan include connectivity, energy, trade, industrial parks, agricultural development, poverty alleviation, tourism, non-governmental exchanges and financial cooperation,” he added.

Ahsan Iqbal further said that CPEC will improve the conditions in Pakistan to user in a new era of industrialisation and urbanisation in the country, adding that connectivity was the most important aspect of development.

He said that a well-connected transport system was also an essential part of the long-term plan, adding that construction of Kashgar-Islamabad, Peshawar-Islamabad-Karachi, Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan, Sukkur-Gwadar Port and Dera Ismail Khan-Quetta-Sohrab-Gwadar road infrastructure would ensure seamless connectivity. “Gwadar would be transformed into a coastal trade hub which would start a new era of industrialisation in Balochistan,” he said.

The interior minister said that progress on the information technology front was also essential and his government had laid a cross-border fiber optic cable between Pakistan and China. The two countries would exchange technologies to initiate the fourth industrial revolution in Pakistan by improving the efficiency of the garments and textile industries.”

He further said that both the countries would enhance cooperation in the energy sector as well, including in the fields of oil and gas, electricity and power grids. “CPEC will also help Pakistan to modernise its agriculture sector with the help of modern technologies like drip irrigation and biological breeding,” the minister informed.

Commenting on the underperforming tourism industry of Pakistan, Iqbal said that the country would take steps to promote coastal tourism. “There are many areas across the Keti-Bander-Karachi, Sonmiani-Ormara, Jhal Jhao, Gwadar and Jiwani routes which could be turned into vacation spots,” he added.

Replying to a query, Iqbal supported the move to enhance monetary cooperation between the central banks of Pakistan and China, saying, “We have agreed upon bilateral currency swap mechanism and would preferably make payments in rupees and renminbi only.”

Furthermore, the minister said that CPEC project would be implemented in three phases. He said that during the first phase, scheduled for completion by 2020, the problems being faced by Pakistan on the socio-economic front would be completely addressed. “The second phase will reach completion by 2025. All CPEC related infrastructure and industrial projects would be completed,” he added.

The project would mature by 2030 during the third phase, after which the instruments for localised, inclusive and sustainable economic growth would be ready in Pakistan, he informed.

Meanwhile, the interior minister constituted a high-level committee to introduce reforms in the civil armed forces working under the interior ministry in order to improve their performance.

The high-level committee constituted by Iqbal would be supervised by grade-22 officer Asghar Chaudhry and would propose its recommendations for reforms. Iqbal also gave broad guidelines to the committee to devise a law for the armed forces regarding their working conditions and nature of the job.

According to sources, “The interior minister is seeking to give equal facilities to the officers and men of the forces that fall under the umbrella of the interior ministry.” He also asked the commanders of the forces to provide recommendations in an honest manner.

The armed forces under the ministry include Punjab Rangers, Sindh Rangers, Frontier Corps Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, Frontier Constabulary, Gilgit Baltistan Scouts and Coast Guards.