ISLAMABAD: National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf has said that the second phase of CPEC is critical for industrialisation in Pakistan and connectivity among China, Pakistan and the rest of the world.
This phase will involve investment in a range of sectors, including agriculture and science and technology. Special economic zones will also be created to lead our industrialization process,” he said in an interview with Beijing Review.
Yusuf said, “Since the start of the project in 2014, significant progress has been made on the ground. In the first phase, energy and infrastructure development were the focus. So far, projects with a combined installed capacity of more than 9 Gigawatts have been completed and work on other energy projects is continuing pace. To streamline internal connectivity, roads have also been built throughout the country.”
He said, these projects will contribute to internal physical connectivity, job creation, agricultural modernization and industrial expansion in our country. Most importantly, we envisage CPEC to be a springboard for transforming Pakistan into a regional connectivity and trade hub.
For China, he said Pakistan offers an attractive investment destination. Manufacturing and services, which may have become financially uncompetitive in China, can freely utilize these new opportunities in Pakistan to lower costs.
As more and more of our peoples interact, a greater understanding of each other’s cultures and traditions would benefit the relationship tremendously. Moving forward, this has to become a priority.
“We must increase cultural and sport exchange programs, scholarships, cooperation between think tanks, among other such initiatives,” he added.
On dealing with the challenges facing the CPEC, including the safety concerns, he said, the safety of any foreigner in Pakistan is our responsibility. Pakistan takes the concerns of Chinese workers and engineers seriously.
“That is why in the initial years of the CPEC, Pakistan established a 15,000-strong special security division. You will not find any parallel to such an elaborate arrangement. So far, they have done a tremendous job of ensuring the security of hundreds of CPEC project sites and individuals,” he added.
The national security adviser said, there have been a small number of attacks. It is important to recognize that some countries and their proxy actors do not want the CPEC to succeed. They see an ever-growing Pakistan-China partnership as a threat.
“We have already explained that India has supported and funded the attacks on CPEC and Chinese interests in Pakistan through anti-Pakistan militant organizations operating from third countries. Unfortunately, our enemies will continue to seek ways to target us,” he added.
Regardless, clear evidence of the strength of the Pakistan-China relationship is that we have come out stronger and further strengthened our security protocols.
Rest assured, all inimical forces working at the behest of external powers to undermine the CPEC will be defeated. We now have a mechanism to ensure the security of each and every Chinese citizen in Pakistan.
As a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, the full potential of the CPEC will only be realized when there is peace in the region.
Overall, as strategic partners, our efforts to jointly deal with shared challenges and threats in the region must intensify, he added. – TLTP