Abbasi hopes CPEC to induce needed change

By Staff Reporter
Wednesday – April 11, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Prime minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addressing the Boao forum for Asia in Hanian island on Tuesday held that as humanity stands at the cusp of fundamental technological breakthroughs, the fourth industrial revolution is upon us, and technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, biotechnology, and quantum computing are set to enter our lives and reshape them.

According to an official statement, Abbasi added that the trading regime underpinned by world trade organisation (WTO) is ‘eroding’. The distance between the global haves and have-nots, within countries, and between the richest and poorest segments of our societies has been expanding. The dark clouds of protectionism are getting darker. As nations look inward, and turn their backs on globalisation, we in Asia confront a strategic choice: whether to follow suit, or to script an alternative, more hopeful vision for our future.

He reminded that in 2017, nearly one-third of worldwide economic growth came from the Asia-pacific region, the bulk of it from China. Our coordinated and tailored approaches must incorporate the enterprising spirit of our peoples and their common aspirations for a better life. They must include embracing structural reform, strengthening regional institutions, increasing connectivity, leveraging technology and investing in human capital.

Abbasi asserted that the China Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of belt and road initiative (BRI) is fast reaching fruition. At the southern tip of this corridor, development of the deep seaport of Gwadar is proceeding at a fast track. Besides Pakistan, it will afford shortest maritime and overland access to western China, central and south Asia and the Middle East.

Establishment of several Special Economic Zones (SEZs) along our highways and motorways is integral to CPEC plans, he added and stressed that Pakistan aims to offer tailored incentive packages for the SEZs. It is our earnest desire to see the arc of investment expand further, and to welcome entrepreneurs and investors from around the world to our SEZs.

Abbasi said that connectivity remains the cornerstone of our plans, and is a major driving force behind our overlapping membership of regional platforms of economic cooperation organisation (ECO), south Asian association for regional cooperation (SAARC) and Shanghai cooperation organisation (SCO). It is also our desire to see the networks of highways, railways, energy grids and connectivity nodes spread organically region-wide. For the same reason, we have consistently supported trans-regional projects such as Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and central Asia south Asia CASA-1000 power project.

Later, national energy administration (NEA) administrator Nuer Baikeli called on PM Abbasi on the sidelines of Boao forum for Asia on Tuesday, Abbasi informed that both sides continue to work on projects based on hydropower in north of Pakistan and local coal in Thar district of south.

He indicated the need of early completion and synchronisation of transmission line of south-north with the upcoming generation projects in Karachi and Thar. Abbasi reminded that the oil and gas sector is a priority area which is featured prominently in the long term plan for CPEC.

He stated that private sector is now playing a crucial role in developing Pakistan’s economy by supplementing generation capacities and related infrastructure. “I would also take this opportunity to invite Chinese investors and companies to participate in the development of Pakistan’s power sector with promising returns and incentives,” Abbasi said.

Meanwhile, United Nations (UN) secretary general Antonio Guterres met PM Abbasi on the sidelines of Boao forum for Asia on Tuesday, PM expressed grave concern at the deteriorating situation in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK) and the mindless killing spree of innocent Kashmiris by Indian occupation forces which knows no boundaries.

Abbasi reiterated Guterres about the use of pellet guns by Indian occupation forces in IOK causing the blinding of many innocent Kashmiris.

Pakistan seeks a just and peaceful resolution of the dispute, in accordance with UN security council resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people, PM demanded and called upon the UN to play its part in stopping the Indian atrocities being inflicted upon innocent right to self-determination seeking Kashmiris in the IOK.

Abbasi apprised that deliberate and unprovoked ceasefire violations (CFVs) by India along the line of control (LoC) and the working boundary (WB) are moving towards a dangerous escalation resulting in martyrdom of innocent civilians. The situation can escalate dangerously if the Indian side does not put a stop to repeated CFV violations, PM feared.

Guterres maintained that he had been advocating the need for a serious dialogue on the Kashmir issue and acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts towards counter-terrorism (CT), humanitarian assistance to the Afghan refugees and the various UN peacekeeping operations.

Separately, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam called on PM Abbasi on the sidelines of Boao forum for Asia on Tuesday, Abbasi stated that Hong Kong is home to over 25,000 Pakistan origin residents and commended Hong Kong’s policy of tolerance and interfaith harmony that is the hallmark of its diversity.