During the inaugural ceremony of the 10th anniversary celebrations of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, the Minister of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, highlighted that Pakistan had previously been trapped in the clutches of global geopolitics and forced to assume the role of a pawn in regional conflicts. However, he emphasized that the construction of CPEC has proven to be a game-changer, propelling Pakistan onto a new developmental trajectory that prioritizes geoeconomics.
On June 22, 2023, the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives hosted the inaugural ceremony of CPEC’s 10thanniversary celebrations. Mr. Iqbal, the Minister of Planning, attended the event and delivered a speech. Mr. Pang Chunxue, Acting Chargé d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, along with Secretary Planning Mr. Syed Zafar Ali Shah attended the event, as did representatives from China’s and Pakistan’s media and business sectors.
“The historical influence on Pakistan’s decision-making has veered predominantly towards geopolitical considerations, while overlooking the significance of geoeconomics. This disposition has consistently cast Pakistan in the role of a tool for war, burdened by substantial military expenditures, and unable to fully explore the entirety of its potential in fostering amicable relations with other nations. CPEC proved to be a game-changing shift for Pakistan, liberating it from the shackles of geopolitics and propelling the country into the realm of geo-economics.” the minister said.
Over the past decade, China and Pakistan have achieved fruitful outcomes in key areas such as Gwadar, energy, infrastructure development, and industrial cooperation in Pakistan. “Before CPEC, this country struggled to maintain uninterrupted power supply for more than 16-18 hours. People used to say that Pakistan was regressing to the Stone Ages”, the minister stated. Thanks to the energy projects under the CPEC, many remote areas have bid farewell to candles. Nowadays, the energy projects have cumulatively provided one-third of the national electricity supply in Pakistan.
However, the construction of CPEC has not always been a smooth journey, as various forces have sought to interfere since its beginning. The minister recalled that initially, several lobbies became active in making CPEC controversial within Pakistan, with a particular focus on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. “So, while we conducted economic planning, we also made a concerted effort in effective communication to convey the true facts to the people”, the minister said, then extended his gratitude to the security personnel who have been ensuring the safety of CPEC.
Mr. Iqbal further stated that China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative have provided new avenues for development in various countries, including Pakistan. CPEC is a project for Pakistan that will serve as a source of peace and prosperity, not only within the nation itself but throughout the entire region, reaping its abundant rewards.