CPEC Authority chairman says second phase of belt and road initiative will focus on economic activities
The second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), including Special Economic Zones, roads, motorways, and energy projects will change the fate of Pakistan, CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Saleem Bajwa said on Wednesday.
In an interview with a private TV channel, Bajwa, who is also the special assistant to the P.M. on information, said the regional situation was improving and Pakistan was now in a position to take advantage of it. He said the CPEC Authority had been established with the intent to provide “one window” operation to investors, both foreign and local.
“Prime Minister [Imran Khan] has said that CPEC is a game changer for Pakistan. He has asked me to ensure that the work on it doesn’t slow down and has also allowed me to approach him directly to get rid of any bottlenecks,” he said, adding that the authority was collaborating with relevant ministries and provincial administrations.
Bajwa said the country’s political and military leadership was on the same page on CPEC. He said the government was cognizant of communication, infrastructure and energy being major challenges facing Pakistan, adding that nine of 17 energy-related projects had already been completed while the remainder was in various degrees of completion.
“We’re trying to move to hydroelectricity. Kohala and Azad Pattan power projects as well as the Diamer-Bhasha Dam would produce hydroelectricity. There are other projects in the pipeline too,” he said, adding that the government was also looking at operating coal-based power plants using indigenous coal to reduce power generation costs.
Referring to the Special Economic Zones being established under CPEC, Bajwa said 1,000 acres of land had been acquired at Rashakai in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for this purpose and construction of the Allama Iqbal Industrial City in Faisalabad had already begun. He said the government would soon issue a tender for the Dhabeji Economic Zone in Sindh—a mere 35 kilometers away from Karachi—spanning 3,000 acres.
The CPEC Authority chairman said work had begun on the Dera Ismail Khan Motorway, which would extend to Zhob. He said work would also soon begin on the road from Hoshab to Awaran. He stressed that Beijing and Islamabad were on the same page with respect to CPEC and added that the upcoming phase of the project would focus on bolstering Pakistan’s economy.