CPEC economic corridor game changer for Pakistan, region: Sharif

Islamabad: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not only a "game-changer" for Pakistan but would help bring prosperity to the entire region.

Addressing the inaugural session of the CPEC Summit at the Pakistan-China Friendship Centre, Sharif said the economic corridor project is the most important economic initiative for South Asia in the 21st century, Pakistan Today reported.

"Our region has witnessed a lot of conflict and deprivation in the past. Time has come to turn a new leaf in the history of the region by bringing peace and prosperity and addressing the challenges of poverty, unemployment and under-development," he added.

Nawaz further stated that the CPEC is not "merely a strategic decision" but the "culmination" of 10 years of "brotherhood and cooperation" between China and Pakistan.

The two sides never left each other in times of distress such as during the devastating earthquake in 2005 and floods in 2010.

"Our relations with China are of the utmost importance," he said.

Sharif said, during his visit to Pakistan, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the parliament that Pakistan stood by China when it was isolated. Now China has reached out to the country when Pakistan stood economically isolated, reported Dawn.

He said the project would not only improve Pakistan's own infrastructure but would also provide it much needed know how, knowledge and expertise in new technologies.

He said $35 billion of the amount would be invested in energy sectors alone to produce 10400MW of electricity.

The project will benefit all regions of Pakistan equally including Gilgit Baltistan and remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, said Sharif, Dawn reported.

The $46 billion project aims to link Pakistani city Gwadar to China's Xinjiang region via a vast network of highways and railways, allowing China access to the Arabian Sea, and making Pakistan a regional manufacturing hub and an attractive market for foreign direct investment (FDI). 

The Summit hosted by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, was attended by Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on CPEC Mushahidullah Khan, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong, among other leading industrialists, ambassadors and businessmen.