Published Date: Dec 8, 2016
* Speakers call for regional integration and reducing regional disparities to make project a success
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo has said that controversies will be eroded owing to the launch of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) official website, and comprehensive data will be available on the website for future analysis.
He was speaking at a session titled ‘Leveraging CPEC for Regional Cooperation in Energy and Transport Infrastructure’, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute on Wednesday.
He said that the CPEC project was imperative for the economy of Pakistan. “We should be optimistic regarding the CPEC and shouldn’t create controversies over it,” he said.
On this occasion, Chinese delegate Wang Nan said that security was another big concern over the CPEC. “We will have to make stable Afghanistan for making CPEC secure in the long-term.”
Other speakers, including Dr Safdar Sohail, Dr Miftah Ismail, Dr Abid Suleri, Wang Nan, Dr Fran Sun and Shakeel Ramay focused on regional integration and reducing regional disparities.
Speakers also stressed the need for investing in human capital along with investment in infrastructure and industrial sector.
Former senator of Awami National Party (ANP) Afrasiab Khattak stressed the need for strategic planning to weed out terrorism and extremism from society. He said that Pakistan was a security state where extremism was still flourishing due to the wrong policies of the state.
Khattak said that Pakistan was under the burden of huge debt, which was growing every year. He said that state policies needed to be corrected, and added that peace could not prevail under the present Afghan policy.
He said that the ruling elite did not allow the establishment of local government system, as “it doesn’t suit them”. He called for devising a local government mechanism to implement it in letter and spirit.
On this occasion, World Bank Regional Adviser Haroon Sharif said that trade patterns were changing due to massive global political shifts, like Brexit and Donald Trump’s election.
“People need to think differently, promote leadership roles in the region and rise above the traditional narratives,” he added.
Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal laid emphasis on the importance of regional connectivity, especially from Afghanistan’s perspectives, and how it would open up Central Asia for Pakistan and South Asian countries.
Former ambassador Fauzia Nasreen called for strengthening the existing institutions and agreements. She was of the view that trade and transit should be enhanced, with India as well.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) Chief Economist Guntur Sugiyatro said that the CPEC was a game-changer for Pakistan, but there were problems that hindered growth and cooperation, identified as energy crisis, low investment, weak infrastructure, low tax returns (less than 10% of the GDP) and lack of experts and professionals in the relevant sectors.
Climate change and sustainable energy programme specialist Zhanna Babagaliyeva from Tajikistan said that remittances were the key sources of development hindered by external factors, like the economic crisis, irrational use of land and water, rapid rise in population, limited access to basic services, decline in enrolment rate in higher education facilities and high mortality and morbidity rates.
Hasan Rizvi from LEAD Pakistan said climate change was one of the factors exacerbating internal migration. He stressed the need for census to understand dynamics of migration.