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CPEC – A Gateway to Prosperity

The CPEC will indeed prove to be a gateway to prosperity for both countries – China and Pakistan as well as the region and even beyond. Under the CPEC, China is investing as much as $62 billion in various sectors in Pakistan in a phased manner. Investments under the CPEC in the infrastructure and energy sectors recently ML-1for railways, and implementation of early-harvest projects have filled the voids and accelerated the pace of economic growth of the country that will ultimately provide a boost to the economy. ECNEC approved the project titled Rehabilitation & Up-gradation of Karachi-Lahore Peshawar (ML-1) Railway Track (1,872 kms) on 5th August 2020. Its scope includes doubling of entire track from Karachi to Peshawar whereby speed of passenger trains would be raised from 65/110km/h to 160 km/h and freight trains to operate at 120 km/h. Signaling and control system would be computer based.
Energy projects under CPEC made progress in 2019-20, as two energy sector projects namely the Engro Thar Power and Mine project (660 MW) and HUBCO Coal Power Project (1320 MW) were commissioned on 10 July 2019 and 14 August 2019 respectively. Accordingly, ground- breaking ceremony of Gwadar 300 MW Coal Power project was held on 4 November 2019. The first phase of the construction of the CPEC had been very successful. After 22 major energy and transportation infrastructure projects having been put into operation, Pakistan’s socio-economic development is on trajectory of rapid development. Prime Minister Imran Khan is keen to see implementation of CPEC projects on priority basis. In fact the work on projects continued even during Convid-19. Anyhow, with the successful experience in the first stage, Pakistan government has already approved the establishment of 10 special economic zones in the four provinces.
CPEC will open new vistas of development as a result of which the national economy will grow fast, lead to creation of new job opportunities, poverty reduction, and development of transportation sector, boost industrial growth and exports. The CPEC project consists of rail, road, and energy infrastructure and is part of the wider $1 trillion Chinese project known as the “Belt and Road” initiative. CPEC is a comprehensive package of cooperative initiatives and projects, which covers key areas including connectivity, information network infrastructure, energy cooperation, industries and industrial parks, agricultural development, poverty alleviation, tourism, financial cooperation as well as livelihood improvement including municipal infrastructure, education, public health and people-to people communication. Energy sector had been assigned top priority to help Pakistan overcome energy shortages. However, Gwadar Port Project is the centerpiece of Pak-China Strategic Partnership with its strategic location and potential for becoming the future economic and energy hub.
The projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will transform it into one of the world’s leading port cities having top-class commercial and tourist facilities, integrated infrastructure and investment opportunities. This will make Gwadar a catalyst for development of Balochistan in particular, and Pakistan in general. The first phase included three multipurpose berths of 602m quay length, one service berth of 100m length, 4.35 km navigable channel of 11.6/12.5m depth, roads, plinths and transit shed, operational craft and equipment, including navigational aids and shore based port buildings and allied facilities. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, linking Gwadar Port to the Chinese province of Xinjiang, will be a game changer not only for Balochistan and Pakistan but also Central Asian countries. In Balochistan, development activity has picked up with the return of peace after years of insurgency and violence, and people of Balochistan would reap the benefits of the development through CPEC.

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