SDPI’s China study center to bridge policy-research gap: Dr Shamshad

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ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Dr Shamshad Akhtar on Thursday said that inappropriate planning, lack of capacity and consolidated information at one platform generate controversies around China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

She said this while speaking at the launching ceremony of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s (SDPI) China Study Center in Islamabad.

Dr Shamshad said that she Pakistan should take maximum advantage from one time opportunity of CPEC, which could open up more corridors of cooperation in the region and the world.

She said that the SDPI’s centre is a welcoming initiative which could help bridge the policy-research gap. She hoped that the centre will produce high-quality research for informed policymaking.

Speaking on the occasion, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said that the centre is timely and kind of blessing for Pakistan and China. He added that China wanted to see Pakistan as a developed and prosperous country and CPEC demonstrates the commitment and support to Pakistan.

He also said that CPEC is a determinant of the Pakistan-China relationship, which is historic and will last over decades. He added that the governments, as well as people of both Pakistan and China, are committed to further strengthen the ties.

Our relationship with Pakistan is of mutual cooperation and not competition, he added.

SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qayyum Sulehri said that Pakistan’s relations with China are beyond CPEC. He added that to understand the relationship between Pakistan and China, there is a need to understand China’s policy of engagement with the world, China’s vision behind Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and China’s policy of overcoming poverty and corruption.

He added that there is a dearth of knowledge and most of the discussions around CPEC and Pak-China relationship lack evidence. He said that the SDPI centre will produce evidence-based knowledge to bridge the policy research gap. The centre would serve as virtual study portal where anyone can contribute or access literature, he added.

Haroon Sharif, former regional advisor economic corporation (South Asia) at the World Bank, said that focusing just on large infrastructure projects can lead to regional disparity and inequality, which need to be addressed. He added that both the governments of Pakistan and China must prioritise the development goals in CPEC and should enhance focus towards social sector, agriculture and industry and energy sector.

He also said that the model of the centre should be based on public-private partnership principles to produce knowledge as per the needs of the economy.