Lahore : Pakistan accomplished yet another milestone Monday and transformed the dream of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into a reality by making the Gwadar Economic Free Zone operational, so as to optimally achieve the potential of the port city.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the Gwadar Free Zone and the Expo 2018 and reiterated that the ongoing policies of economic development would continue, no matter which party forms the next government; as these were aimed at development and prosperity and building the nation. He reiterated that the country would hold its next general election in July this year, after the completion of the five-year term of the PML-N government.
The Prime Minister termed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor a “game changer” and said the potential of Gwadar has been fully realized, owing to the vision of President Xi Jinping and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He said due to the dedication and hard work of Pakistani and Chinese teams, both the CPEC and Gwadar were heading towards a bright future.
Abbasi mentioned the ongoing modernization of the railway system from Karachi to Peshawar, Khunjerab to Gwadar, upgrading of road network, building of necessary infrastructure, building of power projects and setting up of Special Economic Zones to bring prosperity to the people of Pakistan through generation of economic activity, increase exports and creation of jobs.
He said connectivity through Gwadar, the new motorway networks would bring prosperity not only to Central Asian States, Western China, Afghanistan but also Pakistan and strengthen President Xi’s vision of Belt and Road Initiative. He said Gwadar was the most visible section of this vision and termed it the most important contribution of the Chinese President for the future generations. He said the CPEC projects were based on financial viability and environmental sustainability and bring prosperity.
The Prime Minister recalled his recent visit to Davos where at one of the forum on “Shared future in a fractured world” he recalled pointing that President Xi Jinping was building on linkages of the past for a future of tomorrow.
He appreciated the Gwadar Port Authority, Gwadar Development Authority and the Chinese partners working on the project and said it would bring prosperity to Balochistan, Pakistan on the whole and the region as well.
Addressing the challenges of Balochistan, the Prime Minister said the future of the province was in the hands of its political leadership. He said the provincial government needs to develop the entire coast line. He said there was an urgent need to transform Gwadar into an international city, which was fully functional and can serve the future demands of its people. He said the provincial government has to confront the challenges ahead.
He said the federal government would equally share in the equalization package for Gwadar so as to provide quality services in health, education and other social sectors for the people of Balochistan. In this regard he said funding for each district of Balochistan would start this year.
The Prime Minister later formally inaugurated the export free zone.
Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo said Gwadar Expo was a significant step towards the economic development of the port city and of Balochistan. However he emphasized that local people must not be left out in the fast-paced journey of development.
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said completion of first phase of Gwadar Free Zone was a major milestone towards achieving inclusive and sustainable development in Balochistan in line with Pakistan Vision 2025.
He said Gwadar port and the free zone projects were demonstration of the time-tested friendship between Pakistan and China.
Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Hasil Khan Bizenjo said main objective of holding the Gwadar Expo 2018 was to highlight the significance of Gwadar, to promote its Port and Free Zone as emerging business hub and to provide a platform of interaction between local, regional and international business entrepreneurs.
Chairman China Overseas Port Holding Company Zhang Baozhong said Gwadar Free Zone was the demonstration of the hard work of the governments of Pakistan and China, which was a project of prosperity for the two nations.
He said his company was overwhelmed by the support of Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments, Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy and the local people.
He said Gwadar Free Zone during initial construction and production phase (year 2018-23) would provide job opportunities for more than 38,000 people and would help increasing Pakistan’s trade volume, Foreign Direct Investment and national economy size.
The event was attended by President AJK Masood Khan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing and members of federal and provincial cabinet.
Meanwhile ; Pakistan and China on Monday inked five Agreements and a Memorandum of Understanding for strengthening collaboration between Gwadar and the Chinese port cities.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi witnessed the ceremony, as representatives of Pakistan and China inked the documents, following the inauguration of Gwadar Free Zone.
Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, Federal Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Minister of State for Information Marriyum Auranzeb, Chairman China Overseas Port Holding Company Zhang Baozhong and Gwadar Port Authority Dostain Khan Jamaldini were present.
Agreements were signed declaring Pakistan’s Gwadar and China’s Tianjin as sister ports, and Gwadar and Piung as sister cities.
Another agreement was signed for close cooperation among Pakistan State Oil (PSO), GITL and Gwadar.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and China’s Free Trade Zone Company signed an Agreement for cooperation in their respective field.
Another Agreement was signed between Gwadar and HATA Trade City.
The MoU on Gwadar Poverty Alleviation Initiative was inked between Gwadar district government and China Overseas Ports Holding Company.