BRI has ‘opened new horizons for Pakistan,’ says former leader

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/25 21:58:42

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has opened new horizons for Pakistan and the China-Pakistan relationship is special and deep, a former leader of Pakistan said prior to the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on Thursday.

"The BRI is an excellent initiative by China to expand economic cooperation between countries and Pakistan has benefited from it. We now have more road networks going all the way up which boosts trade," Shaukat Aziz, former prime minister of Pakistan, told the Global Times. 

"This happens based on need. There is no concept of creating trade country by country," Aziz said.

Pakistan was one of the first countries to join the BRI after it was proposed in 2013. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an ongoing mega project which aims to connect Gwadar Port in southern Pakistan to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is the linchpin of China-Pakistan BRI cooperation. 

Various CPEC projects have provided direct job opportunities to around 75,000 people across Pakistan, and it is estimated that 700,000 more will be created by 2030. Yet controversies have been raised in terms of the way the BRI has been developed.

 After Imran Khan became prime minister of Pakistan in August 2018, he established a nine-member committee to evaluate CPEC projects, leading many to believe that Pakistan would rethink its role in the BRI. 

Nonetheless, during Khan's visit to China in November, the two sides reiterated their commitment to the CPEC and it was agreed that the CPEC would expand to include social development programs. 

Moreover, his attendance at the second Belt and Road Forum is also seen as a measure of Pakistan's firm support for this initiative.

A recent assessment of the BRI published by the International Financial Forum, an independent, non-profit and non-governmental international organization founded in Beijing in 2003, listed changes in government as a potential risk to the implementation of the BRI. 

"When a new person comes, he doesn't have all the facts. It takes time. When he has better information and better analysis, he can take a better decision," Aziz said.


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