February 2020




By ​ Our Correspondent Published: February 25, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The multibillion-dollar projects being implemented under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would not be affected by the temporary challenge of coronavirus, declared Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Energy Week, organised by the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra), Yao emphasised that despite the challenges being faced because of the coronavirus, China was determined to move forward on CPEC.

He stated that the next stage of CPEC would focus on cooperation among diverse sectors. He expressed confidence that it would give a new momentum to future development of Pakistan’s economy.

Moreover, he appreciated the structural reforms being introduced by Pakistan government and added that the energy sector of Pakistan was undergoing transformation, which was focused on providing affordable and reliable energy.

He stressed that the Chinese government and investors would fully cooperate with Pakistan in that endeavour.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Power Omar Ayub said the government was targeting to provide sustainable, affordable and reliable power to the consumers by producing 75-80% of electricity from domestic resources. The minister apprised people at the conference that the government had formulated a renewable energy policy under which the share of alternative sources of energy would be increased to 20% by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Ayub highlighted that the energy sector of Pakistan offered investment opportunities of $100 billion including $45 billion in power generation, $20 billion in transmission and $15-20 billion in distribution. The minister expressed satisfaction that several companies were evincing interest in relocating their manufacturing facilities to Pakistan for the production of wind turbines and solar panels.

Nepra Chairman Tauseef H Farooqi pointed out that circular debt had increased to Rs1,900 billion. “We have to give attention to the power sector to make improvement,” he said.

CPEC Authority Chairman Asim Saleem Bajwa said, “We are going to start the second phase of CPEC after completing the first phase; projects under the second phase will be completed in time.”

He said development work was continuing on the western route of CPEC, adding that a majority of the energy projects under the programme had been completed. He was of the view that coronavirus would not affect the progress on CPEC and initiatives were being taken to take benefit of Thar coal.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2020.



February 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD. Minister for Planning Asad Umar has described progress on multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)project as “satisfactory” and said with passage of time, the scope of participation of the private sector in the project would be widened.

“Participation of chambers of commerce and people directly involved in business with China would be ensured [in the project]. We need to increase collaboration [with China] in manufacturing and agriculture sectors,” Umar said Wednesday.

He was briefing the National assembly Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reform in a meeting which was held in Parliament House under the chairmanship of MNA Junaid Akber.

The minister assured the planning ministry’s support for projects of federal nature, as suggested by the committee’s members. CPEC is a rail and road network that links China’s Western region with the Arabian Sea through deep sea port in Gwadar.

The Minisry of Planning additional secretary briefed the members about implementation on recommendations of the committee.

Monthly progress report on Dasu Hydropower project was presented before the committee.

The committee was informed that a meeting-chaired by the K-P chief secretary-was held on January 21 to sort out issue of land acquisition for the dam project.

He said a follow-up meeting was chaired by adviser to the PM on establishment to review progress of land acquisition and set timelines to acquire the remaining land.

The committee directed the Ministry of Planning to obtain details of payments made to landowners for land acquisition in batch-1 for Dasu hydropower project.

The committee was informed that Wapda was implementing Local Area Development Programme in Dasu project area which includes eight infrastructure schemes.

Wapda chairrman briefed the committee about Tarbela 4th Extension Hydropower Project (1410MW) in Swabi. The main objective of the project is generation of cheap environment friendly electricity. The project will strengthen Wapda’s financial position, besides it will enable the authority to raise commercial financing for Diamer Badsha Dam.

In discussion on the Infrastructure and allied works on Metro Bus Service from Islamabad’s Peshawer Morr to New Islamabad Airport, the National Highway Authority (NHA) member planning said the work scope includes civil and structure work.

He said civil work including metro bus corridor, underpasses, bridges and interchanges are substantially completed whereas finishing work and electro mechanical work are in progress.



By BILAL GHAURI Published: February 27, 2020

LAHORE: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project head in the Ministry of Railways, Basharat Waheed, has submitted a scheme worth $9.172 billion for approval by the Planning Commission.

The project will be completed in nine years, in three phases. The first phase will cost $3.375 billion, the second phase will cost $2.241 billion and the third phase will cost $3.555 billion.

In the first phase, the 1,872-kilomtre (km) track from Karachi to Peshawar will be upgraded to run trains at a speed of 160km per hour.

In addition to this, railway barriers, signals, station buildings, underpasses and flyover bridges will also be constructed. The Walton Railway Academy will also be upgraded in the first phase, which will cost $43.4 million.

The Express Tribune has learnt that the CPEC project has been submitted to the Ministry of Railways by the project head for the fourth time for approval.

In the first phase, the 132km track between Lahore and Lalamusa will be upgraded to run trains at 160kmh, at a cost of $712.4 million. Moreover, upgrading the track between Lalamusa and Peshawar, for trains to run at 120kmh, will cost $752.2 million.

A new line for upgrading the track between Peshawar and Nowshera will be set up at a cost of $862.6 million.

In the first phase, the 521km track between Kaluwal and Pandora will be upgraded and a double line will be laid, which will cost $343.3 million, whereas on the 183km track between Nawabshah and Rohri railway stations, trains will to run at 160kmh after the upgrade. The work will cost $351.955 million.

However, in the second phase, the 339km track between Lahore and Multan will be upgraded for trains to run at 160kmh, which will cost $1.1831 billion.

The work on the Hyderabad section, including Kemari, will cost $858.1 million.

The third and last phase of the project will cost $28.7 million whereas another track for trains running between Rawalpindi and Peshawar at a speed of 120kmh will be upgraded at a cost of $584.9 million.

The 749km double track between Multan and Hyderabad, on which trains will run at 160kmh, along with the purchase of locomotives and cargo carriages, is likely to cost $2.236 billion.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2020.



By Haseeb Hanif Published: February 28, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood has said that the United States has been invited to invest in projects of the multi billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as it expressed keen interest in increasing trade relations with Pakistan.

“The US has shown interest in energy, oil and gas, agriculture and food processing,” the commerce adviser told a news conference here on Thursday, sharing details of a meeting held with the US trade delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross the other day.

The US commerce secretary’s visit is the result of recently held discussions between Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Donald Trump to promote bilateral trade and enhanced economic engagements.

The US commerce secretary’s visit follows the recent signing of $3 billion worth of defence deal between the US and India during Trump’s recent visit to Ahmedabad.

“Pak-US market access is the main point. We want access to the US market,” Dawood said, adding that the US secretary has assured of his cooperation in this regard.

Sharing details of the meeting, the PM’s aide said that the US officials have also expressed interest in e-commerce.

“They have agreed that the US International Development Finance Corporation would help in developing of new businesses in Pakistan,” Dawood said. “The US secretary is ready to send a commerce delegation for coordination.”

He said they discussed bilateral relations and matters of mutual interest, adding that they agreed to enhance mutual trade to a maximum level.

“The US has agreed to convene the meeting of the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council to move forward seriously on a number of issues. The US has also called for holding the Business Opportunities Conference in order to forge better networking among the private sectors of both the countries,” Dawood said, adding that they had offered the US to open offices of its top brands in Pakistan.

“A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) could be a long-term goal because of complexity involved in the process,” Dawood said, adding that the TIFA framework provided an institutional mechanism to carry forward those discussions and come up with new ideas.

To a question, the commerce adviser said that it would be too soon to comment on the impact of the coronavirus on trade. “We cannot say anything about the exports yet. We will get a clear picture from the February’s export results.”

During his meeting with the US secretary on Wednesday, Premier Imran underscored the need to take full advantage of trade and investment opportunities in Pakistan, stressing the need to enhance business-to-business cooperation between the two countries.




The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter February 18, 2020

KARACHI: The government is committed to making Gwadar a ‘smart port city’ and in this regard a 50-year master plan and by-laws are being prepared for development activities, Director General Gwadar Development Authority (GDA), Shahzeb Khan Kakar said on Monday.

The GDA official, addressing members of the Association of Builders and Deve­lopers of Pakistan (ABAD), said all hurdles in Gwadar’s development have been removed and the city will be future Singapore.

Gwadar was set to become a modern city like Singapore 10 years ago but due to some mistakes this dream could not materialise but now these issues are being rectified, a press release issued by ABAD quoted the GDA official as saying.

Availability of water was a major issue in Gwadar but this problem is now being resolved as pipelines are being installed to bring in water from various dams while desalination plants are also being installed, he said.

Electricity is another issue but now a 300-megawatt power station is being established, he added.

Talking about the law and order situation in Gwadar, Kakar stressed that it is now the safest city in Pakistan.

He further said that Gwadar would become a digitalised city, with all records being digitised.

By 2050 Gwadar’s economic turnover would reach $30 billion and per capita income is expected to be $15,000 while Pak­­­istan’s current per capita income is $1,350.

Chairman ABAD Mohsin Sheikhani pointed out that GDA was established in 2004 but unfortunately Gwadar could not be developed as expected. He stressed that all stakeholders should be taken into confidence regarding the master plan and investors should be promised for not making any change in it.

Long-term and stable policy and provision of facilities to investors are necessary for development, he added.

Former chairman ABAD Junaid Ashraf Taloo suggested some changes in GDA by-laws to provide better investment environment to investors.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2020



Saleem Shahid Updated February 20, 2020

QUETTA: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project will herald a new era of speedy development and prosperity in the country, especially Balochistan.

While opening the annual Sibi festival 2020, the president said that with Gwadar port becoming fully functional, the construction of airport, oil refinery, important corridors and economic zones wou­­ld provide ample job opportunities to the people of Balochistan, which would eliminate poverty and open new avenues of prosperity and development in the province.

“Gwadar will emerge as a new developed port city and economic hub on the world map after completion of on­­go­ing projects,” Dr Alvi said.

He said the federal government was paying special attention to the reconstruction and development of Balochistan because its people had suffered a lot in the war against terrorism.

He said the present government was concentrating on developing agriculture and livestock sectors as these sectors were a big source of employment for the local people.

The president said Baloch­istan was very important in terms of coastal areas and measures were being taken to promote foreign investment in the fisheries sector.

He said fish and its products worth $500 million had been exported this year aga­inst about $300m of last year.

Dr Alvi said it was an honour for him to inaugurate the historic Sibi festival.

Speaking on the occasion, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani said the present government was taking steps to remove flaws in livestock and agriculture sectors.

He said livestock and agriculture remained the backbone of provincial economy.

He said 1,000 tractors would be imported for farmers, while water channels, water storage tanks and irrigation system were being upgraded.

The chief minister urged President Arif Alvi to draw attention of the federal government towards upgrade of Jaffarabad, Dera Murad Ja­­mali, Sibi and Quetta highway.

In his address of welcome, Agriculture Minister Zama­r­­ak Khan Piralizai highligh­ted the problems being faced by the province in agriculture and livestock sectors.

Balochistan Governor ret­i­red Justice Amanullah Ya­­si­n­­­zai, provincial ministers Yar Mohammad Rind and Abdul Rehman Khetiran and tribal elders also attended the opening ceremony of Sibi festival.

Almost 500 artists, artisans and folk singers from various districts of Balochistan will take part in the five-day festival.

Various cultural events, including a flower show, a national songs contest, folk dances, motorcycle jumps, horse dances and exhibition of animals like camels, buffaloes and cows, are being organised to make the festival a success.

An exhibition of beautiful and rare animals is also being organised.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2020



By NAVEED BUTT on February 20, 2020

A total of Rs 13.123 billion is required in funds to provide utilities including 880.3MW electricity and 393.5 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) gas to seven Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the current year 2020.

According to documents available with the Business Recorder, approximately Rs 18.5 billion will be incurred on provision of power to nine SEZs under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Power Division has prepared a comprehensive plan in consultation with provincial governments for provision of uninterrupted electricity to the industrial zones.

The PC-I has been prepared by the Power Division and Rs 1.4 billion already earmarked in the Public Sector development Programme (PSDP) 2019-2020.

Board of Investment (BoI) is prioritizing the power supply to the SEZs in consultation with the Power Division and the SEZ developers.

At least 320 MW of electricity is required for M-3 Industrial City Faisalabad, while 40 MW is available.

A total of 155.5 MW of electricity is required for Bin Qasim Industrial Park, Karachi as just 4.5 MW is available.

Likewise, a total of 237.8MW of electricity is required for Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park, Sheikhupura, while only 2.2 MW is available. TwoMW of electricity is required for Korangi Creek Industrial Park, Karachi and 1.5 MW is available.

Electricity is not available to Hattar Special Economic Zone, while 160 MW power is required for it.

A total of 100 mmcfd gas is required for M-3 Industrial City, Faisalabad, 16 mmcfd for Value Addition City, Faisalabad, 65 mmcfd for Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park, Sheikupura, 3.5 mmcfd for Khairpur Special Economic Zone, nine mmcfd for Korangi Creek Industrial park, Karachi, 10 mmcfd gas for Bin Qasim Industrial Park, Karachi, 20 mmcfd for Hattar Special Economic Zone, 30 mmcfd for Rashakai SEZ, Nowshera KP, 125 mmcfd for Allama Iqbal Industrial Estate M-3, Faisalabad, and 15 mmcfd gas for China Special Economic Zone Dhabeji, Thatta.

General incentives of utilities for SEZs, gas, electricity and others would be provided at the zero-point of the zones.

Captive power generation is permissible to developers of the zones.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



By ALI HUSSAIN on February 21, 2020

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing on Thursday sought to address the doubts that exist both locally and internationally over the massive Chinese investment through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the country, saying before deciding any major investment abroad, his country sees “who is good to us and who is not”.

Speaking at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI), “Pakistan-China Relations and Next Phase of CPEC”, the Chinese envoy termed the anti-CPEC voices as propaganda of the Western powers.

“China is not coming here [Pakistan] as [a] colonial power…Our aim is development of Pakistan…they cannot stop our joint cooperation. We are committed to common prosperity and regional peace,” he asserted, while responding to a query about the growing Pakistan-China cooperation and the concerns by some Western powers, particularly by the United States.

Without mentioning any quarter, the Chinese envoy also rejected the concerns raised over the transparency of the CPEC projects. “These are not the problems, but just perceptions. If you have any question…if you are writing any article, please check with us before publishing,” he further stated.

Responding to another query with regard to alleged persecution of Muslims in China, Yao also described it as part of the ongoing propaganda campaign against his country, adding that a very small in number are associated with East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) etc.

“Western media is propagating that China is persecuting the Muslims. In fact, these terrorists, who can be found in any other country, do not represent any religion,” he added. “We don’t want to be ‘Number One’. We don’t want to replace you. But we do want to play our part in global peace and development. We want peaceful coexistence on the basis of mutual respect and a win-win situation in state-to-state relations,” Yao further stated.

The Chinese envoy once again rejected the US concerns over Pakistan’s borrowing under the CPEC, saying that the total loan was of less than $6 billion with a repayment period of 20-25 years and an interest rate of approximately two percent. He further said 63 percent of the companies engaged in the CPEC projects are Pakistani companies.

However, he pointed out that China needs very skilled labour and completion of the work within the set completion period, ‘though Pakistan labour is, yet they are unskilled’. In response to another query with regard to concerns over the massive Chinese investment in Pakistan, he said that the decision of the Chinese leadership to massively invest in Pakistan was the right decision.

“Pakistan is a true choice by our leadership and our people. Whenever we want to investment anywhere abroad, we first evaluate who is good to us and who is not…Pakistan is the most favourite, true and trusted neighbour and foreign ally,” he asserted.

He also stated that the 10th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting scheduled to be held in April in Islamabad, is going to be held via video conference, as the Chinese delegation, which was due to arrive in Islamabad canceled its visit due to coronavirus. He insisted that CPEC is the major part of Pakistan-China strategic partnership.

He said that the next phase of CPEC is focusing on the social development of Pakistan with key priorities of 17 fast track projects aimed at improving the infrastructure of railways, industrial cooperation, agriculture, health and education, as well as some more energy projects. He said that there is also a proposal of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), but only one – the Rashakai – has so far been finalized.

The Chinese envoy, however, pointed out that the coronavirus outbreak in his country is creating a “little” problem, as Chinese workers and businessmen associated with the CPEC projects are currently not coming to Pakistan. “But this is temporary and we hope we will come out of the situation successfully,” he hoped and also thanked Pakistan and its people for expressing solidarity with China at this testing time.

Responding to a question about lack of facilities such as drinking water, electricity supply and healthcare for local people in Gwadar, the Chinese ambassador in a candid response pointed out the slow pace of work of bureaucracy in Balochistan. He said that he had to himself visit Quetta and hold meetings with three different chief ministers over a period of two and a half years to get a no-objection certificate for a Chinese government power project in Gwadar. The Chinese envoy mentioned that he finally got the NOC in November last year.

Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry who was moderating the question-and-answer session, pointed out that the issues of lack of facilities for local people in Gwadar are questions that need to be directed to the local, provincial and the federal governments, and not to the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



APP Updated February 22, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Friday said the pace of implementation on projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be accelerated in the coming days.

He made these remarks while meeting the Ambassador of Peoples Republic of China Yao Jing on Friday.

The two sides discussed matters relating to the CPEC, business-to-business collaboration between the two countries and social sector development in Pakistan.

The minister expressed his satisfaction at the overall delivery of CPEC-related projects and said the establishment and operationalisation of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) was government’s top priority and the progress in that regard is being closely monitored.

The SEZs, he said would act as a catalyst in increasing growth of local manufacturing.

Ambassador Jing appreciated government’s efforts to fast-track the CPEC projects and expressed his desire to put special focus on rail transport, hydel power projects, social sector development projects and business to business collaboration between the two neighbours.

He further said that China will also invest in the low-cost housing programme initiated by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Chinese ambassador said the meetings of some of the joint-working groups would be held through video conferencing to ensure preparation for the upcoming joint coordination committee meeting without any delay.

Umar said the federal and provincial governments are interested in the Karachi Circular Railway project and shared updates on the project with the ambassador.

He emphasised the need for increasing B2B collaboration in banking, telecom and digital finance, manufacturing and agriculture sectors.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020



By RECORDER REPORT on February 22, 2020

Ambassador of Peoples Republic of China Yao Jing called on the Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Asad Umar, here on Friday, said a press release. Secretary Planning and other senior officials were also present in the meeting.

Matters relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), B2B collaboration between the two countries, and social sector development in Pakistan came under discussion. The minister expressed his satisfaction at the overall delivery of the CPEC projects and said that the pace of implementation would be further accelerated.

He said that the establishment and operationalization of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in all of the provinces was a top priority and the progress in this regard was being closely monitored.

The SEZs would act as a catalyst in increasing the growth of local manufacturing, Umar maintained. Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing appreciated the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to fast track the CPEC projects. He expressed his desire to put special focus on rail transport, hydel power projects, social sector development projects and B2B collaboration between the two countries.

Jing further stated that China would also consider investing in the low-cost housing programme.

The Chinese ambassador said that the meetings of some of the JWGs would be held through video conferencing to ensure preparation for the upcoming JCC meeting without any delay.

The Minister for Planning, Asad Umar, also said that the provincial and the federal governments were highly interested in the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project and discussed the latest developments regarding the project.

He emphasized the need to increase B2B collaboration in banking, telecom and digital finance, manufacturing and agriculture sectors. The ambassador assured the minister that the Chinese side was keen to promote such relationships between businesses and manufacturing industries.-PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



The Newspaper’s Correspondent February 23, 2020

SWABI: Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has said Prime Minister Imran Khan will soon inaugurate the Rashakai Economic Zone and that 250,000 locals would get jobs in the mega project to be executed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Addressing a public meeting at Palodand in Saleem Khan here on Saturday, he said extension of Swat Expressway to Badian, construction of an expressway in DI Khan, Chitral-Shandoor Road and various other projects had been included in the CPEC.

On the occasion, some influential families quit Awami National Party and joined the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

Shahram Khan Tarakai, former provincial health minister, who was removed from the cabinet along with Atif Khan and Shakeel Ahmed last month, did not participate in the gathering even as it held in his native district, indicating that differences between the KP government and ousted ministers have not been resolved as yet.

Mahmood Khan said the prime minister had sanctioned Rs83 billion for development of the tribal districts as the provincial government had regularised the services of 41,000 Levies personnel after merging them into the provincial police.

Announces various development projects during visit to Swabi

He said his government had inked an agreement with the industry under which 18MW electricity from Pehur High Level Canal (PHLC) would be given to Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate, and similar steps would be taken across the province.

“The industry will get electricity at Rs7 per unit,” he said, adding PHLC extension project would cost Rs18 billion and irrigate about 250,000 acres of land after its completion.

The chief minister said artificial price hike would be controlled and the prices of essential commodities would be reduced. The provincial government has given top priority to welfare of people and an improved economy would benefit the common man, he added.

The government is taking pragmatic measures for sustainable development of the province, including the merged districts, he said, adding his top priority was to provide relief to people with low income.

Mahmood Khan insisted that his government had zero tolerance for corruption in public sector departments.

He announced reconstruction of Paodand-Saleem Khan and Saleem Khan-Buner roads.

Federal defence minister Pervez Khattak, who also attended the gathering, said the government had taken tough decisions for putting economy on track. The government took loans from other countries and IMF for paying back the money taken by the previous governments.

Castigating the opposition, Mr Khattak said if these political parties had a better programme for governance then the PTI government would follow it.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has a vision and long-term plan for bringing prosperity to Pakistan,” he said, adding successive governments of Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz were responsible for the country’s economic woes.

Speaking on the occasion, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar promised providing natural gas to consumers across the district and resolving the problems confronted by tobacco growers.

He said the ANP, which dominated the district politics for a long time, had failed to initiate any mega project in Swabi. The PTI government has established Women University Swabi, provided funds for building University of Swabi, established Gajju Khan Medical College, upgraded several hospitals, rebuilt the broken roads and constructed a sports complex in the district, he claimed.

“Many more development projects like a grid station and reconstruction of Swabi-Mardan Road are in the pipeline,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2020



Our Correspondent February 23, 2020

A 105-kilometre railway line will be constructed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects from the Chhor area to Islamkot to transport coal from the coal mines in Thar to Port Qasim and upcountry.

Other schemes related to the Thar Coal project have also been included in the CPEC such as the installation of a 1,320-megawatt power plant in the Thar Coal Block-VI.

This was disclosed in a meeting held between Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and CPEC Authority (CPECA) Chairman General (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa on Friday at the CM House.

The CPECA chairman told the CM that the Chinese president was expected to visit Pakistan between May and June this year, therefore all the formalities and documentation of the CPEC-related projects should be complete by then.

The CM told him that at the CPEC-related forums, three projects of Sindh — the Karachi Circular Railway, the China Special Economic Zone Dhabeji and the Keti Bandar energy project — had already been approved. He added that only their financial mechanism was yet to be finalised.

Talking about the KCR, Shah said the framework agreement between Pakistan and Chinese planning commissions known as the NDRC was in the process of being signed.

Gen (retd) Bajwa said the KCR was a top priority of the CPECA. He added that he would pursue the already approved projects and the new projects with the Chinese authority so that work on them could be started as soon as possible.

He said the Karachi Port Trust had become one of the most loaded ports, therefore, a plan had been worked out to construct an expressway right from the sea up to the Malir Expressway.

To this, the CM said that Keti Bandar was also an important strategic and alternative port.

The CPECA chairman said in order to transport the Thar coal to the Port Qasim and upcountry, a feasibility study for a 105km railway track from Chhor to Islamkot had been prepared. This new railway track would be used for coal transportation from the coalfields of Islamkot.

The CM said he had earmarked 1,530 acres of land for the Special Economic Zone in Dhabeji, a CPEC priority project.

He added that Dhabeji had various advantages such as it had access to Port Qasim enabling raw material import and finished goods export without incurring major inland transportation costs.

He added the the Dhabeji zone had access to Jinnah Terminal which was hardly 35 kilometres away through the National Highway, enabling safe travel of foreign workers and management personnel.

The CM said to Gen (retd) Bajwa that the project had been approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) and it had also committed to provide services such as electricity and gas.

The K-Electric would provide 250 MW electricity to the Dhabeji zone with an estimated cost of Rs4 billion. The planning commission has also approved the PC-I prepared by the Sindh investment department, Shah said, adding that 10 million gallons of water per day and 13.5 mmcfd gas would be also provided to the zone.

Keti Bandar was located about 107 km from Thatta city and 150 km from Karachi via Gharo and it was very promising in terms of future prospects, the CM remarked.

He added that the Keti Bandar project was an important part of his government’s strategy towards developing the energy sector.

He disclosed that a private firm had been engaged to conduct technical and financial feasibility study of the project in December 2019 and the financial feasibility study was almost complete and a report was to be submitted in this regard by the end of this month.

The first phase of the study is the technical feasibility for setting up a 1,320 MW power plant, railway line from Thar to Keti Bandar, power evacuation to national grid, construction of a coal jetty and allied infrastructure. The second phase consists of the bid management and the third phase pertains to transaction advices.

The other CPEC-related projects came under discussion between the CM and the CPECA chairman included major potential projects based in Thar discussed in the 9th Joint Cooperation Committee of CPEC meeting held on November 5, 2019.

One of such projects was about production of fertiliser. It was pointed out in the meeting that the combined designed urea production capacity of urea firms in Pakistan was at 6,447KMT per annum while they are operating at 5,700 KMT per annum in 2018. The reason for low capacity utilisation was reduced availability of natural gas.

To this, Gen (retd) Bajwa said we would have to increase our reliance on Thar coal power generation, Thar coal gasification and Thar Coal-based diesel that would help maintain our energy and food security, and reduce external crisis.

He added that he would visit Thar soon and then fly to China to finalise CPEC-related projects.

The meeting was also attended by Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Shaikh, Planning and Development Board Chairman Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to the CM Sajid Jamal Abro, Energy Secretary Musadiq Khan, energy specialist of CPECA Yasir Arfat and infrastructure specialist Muzamil Zia.




The Newspaper’s Correspondent Updated February 10, 2020

GWADAR: Former chief minister of Balochistan Dr Abdul Malik Baloch believes that federal and provincial governments should prioritise the inclusion of Balochistan’s local communities in all projects being executed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“Their interests and identities need to be protected through legislation for economically sustainable and socially acceptable development,” he said, according to a press release.

Addressing a stakeholders’ roundtable at Gwadar, Dr Malik advocated a greater role of the locals in running organisations such as the Gwadar Port Authority and Gwadar Development Authority (GDA).

“How can you expect the local people not to be resentful if their share of jobs in provincial institutions such as GDA or the Gwadar Port Authority is minimal,” asked the former chief minister, adding that the share of jobs must be increased for locals in Gwadar, in particular, and Baloch people in general across the province.

Says locals should also be entrusted with running Gwadar Port, GDA

Political activists, provincial government officials, fishermen and business representatives participated in the round-table organised jointly by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) and the Association for Integrated Development (AID).

They sounded frustrated with what they called the indifference of the federal and provincial governments to issues such as health, education and livelihoods of the fishermen. “Is it not ironical that we are surrounded by sea but we have hardly a pint of potable water,” asked a local trader dealing in fish.

Most of the delegates who deal in fisheries demanded subsidies or soft loans to further develop their business. “Almost 75 per cent of Gwadar’s population lives off the sea i.e. fishing but hardly has anybody access to subsidies or loans,” they said.

Almost all participants highlighted the dismal state of public health and educational institutions. Abul Hassan, a local political activist, asked if the CPEC agreements were about state-to-state loan and grants or they were about purely commercial projects. He bemoaned the fact that hardly any socio-economic impact study had ever been carried out before launching development projects in Gwadar.

People at large at the round table sounded wary of local politicians. “They [politicians] are ready to spend tens of millions on their election campaign but hardly seem to care for potable water that locals desperately need,” said a local fisherman at the stakeholders’ dialogue.

Residents of Gwadar at the dialogue also spoke about their discomfort with unusual strict security measures on roads connecting the port with the city. “These security measures would come across as less imposing if the personnel on checkpoints are sensitised on how to approach locals,” said Ashraf Hussein, a local politician.

They demanded immediate redressal of problems that local fishermen face because of the trawlers that intrude into Balochistan’s waters from Sindh.

Most of the participants also repeatedly underscored the need for urgently setting up technical education and training centres in Gwadar so that the city could produce skilled workers for the upcoming industrial zone.

Officials, speaking in their personal capacity, said that several demands by the local communities were being gradually addressed, albeit at a slow pace.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2020



Afshan Subohi Updated February 10, 2020

China asserts that it is not wavering from its commitment to assist Pakistan in the second, people-centric phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Despite being embroiled in multiple problems — the virus epidemic, growth moderation and trade spat with the United States — the Asian dragon is all set to commit $1 billion in the current calendar year to kick-start the next phase of CPEC.

In an exclusive interaction with Dawn, China’s Consul General in Karachi Li Bijian was open and clear about the mutual relationship and its future. He dismissed the perception that China is disillusioned by the Pakistani leadership and has adopted a wait-and-see strategy before committing support for CPEC’s second phase.

“This is a figment of some naïve elements’ imagination. Nothing can be far from the truth. I can confirm that China has helped Pakistan close physical infrastructure gaps in the first phase and wishes to see benefits of this massive investment flowing to Pakistani youth, farmers, labour and disadvantaged segments in the second phase,” he asserted.

He declined to comment on a possible US role in peddling doubts about CPEC and its cost.

‘We can’t order private investment. We know well it will not be persuasion but the profit expectation and risk coverage that will mobilise them,’ CG Li

The second phase of CPEC is focused on public and private collaboration in industrial, agriculture and social sectors (poverty alleviation, training and research to transform industrial/agriculture sectors to improve productivity and competitiveness). The specifics of commitments for the identified projects have yet to be finalised, but about $1bn is expected to land in the country over the next 11 months.

In the first phase, the thrust was on bridging the physical infrastructure deficit (electricity, logistics and the port). Big-ticket projects close to $21bn in energy, transport infrastructure and Gwadar Port are either complete or about to finish shortly.

Expanding on his argument, the consul general stated: “The relationship between the two countries is not transactional. We are long-term partners who share the common dream for a just and inclusive order that affords decent living standards for all citizens. China chose Pakistan to be the first stop for its One Belt, One Road vision.”

“If there was some confusion in the party that assumed power after the 2018 general elections, it has been cleared. We know the current leadership in Pakistan understands and acknowledges CPEC’s value for the country and its future,” he added, putting to rest the perception of deliberate reluctance on either side.

He also mentioned the revised China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that has added 301 items to the list of articles enjoying duty-free access to the gigantic Chinese market. “It can translate into $6bn worth of additional export from Pakistan to China if the potential of the facility is properly leveraged,” Mr Li elaborated.

To a question regarding little interest among private Chinese companies in relocating their operations in Pakistan, the consul general was not apologetic. He attributed it to a lack of suitable business environment that had de-motivated even local investors.

“We can’t order private investment. Yes, we are encouraging companies. We know well that it will not be persuasion but the profit expectation and risk coverage that will mobilise them. We are engaging with the relevant quarters in Pakistan to work out an incentives package for Chinese investors in special economic zones (SEZs).”

About $1bn is expected to land in Pakistan over the next 11 months as part of the second phase of CPEC

Elaborating on multiple factors that influence the decision of Chinese companies about the destination of their overseas investment, he mentioned the low quality of workforce in Pakistan. “Finding workers with required skills was identified as a big challenge by prospective Chinese investors. We intend to initiate more skill training programmes for workers in Pakistan to ensure the availability of employable youth for Chinese companies setting up shop here. Currently, we are setting up one such facility at Gwadar.”

Commenting on the current slump in Chinese funding, the consul general mentioned multiple challenges that his home country is facing. “Taking care of I.4bn- strong population is not a mean challenge in itself, especially when the GDP growth rate has moderated to 6.1 per cent from over 8pc annual average. The global slowdown and trade frictions with the United States are there. The fear of a virus epidemic in a country of high population density has soaked up the government attention. In this environment, China can’t afford to be too generous. Like others, we also need to justify to our people the resources diverted to other countries.”

He said the next Joint Coordination Committee meeting is still on the agenda. “The tradition of top-level exchange of visits will be maintained this year. Such frequent bilateral visits will further promote and strengthen the existing relations and cooperation.”

Experts involved in CPEC-related affairs agree that sometimes China raises issues, but it would be wrong to interpret those as second thoughts on Pakistan. “The problem is on Pakistan’s side. The PTI leadership took long to absorb the value of Chinese support to the economy that is on a slippery slope. All members of the leading team might still not be fully convinced by the official line to make CPEC fly. This, however, has proven to be insufficient.

“The Khan government is still struggling to put in place a workable mechanism acceptable to all federating units for implementing the second phase of CPEC,” a well-connected source in Islamabad commented.

Several attempts to reach retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA), for his input did not succeed.

Zafar Hasan, federal secretary for planning , was upbeat about the future of CPEC. He confirmed that the incentives package for local and Chinese investors in SEZs was in the works in collaboration with Chinese counterparts.

He defended the newly established autonomous authority that he said would be sufficiently empowered and made financially independent to coordinate and streamline dealings with all relevant departments and ministries and lower tiers of the government in CPEC-related projects across Pakistan.

As for the past and present inflow of funds from China, Mr Hasan said working out the exact quantum was a little difficult and involved monetising goods and services associated with CPEC projects. He did not confirm or dismiss the projection of $1bn worth of support in 2020 mentioned by the Chinese consul general.

“The intent might be there but the pace of progress is woefully slow. It is almost criminal. The government must immediately remove irritants delaying the arrival of Chinese investment that might ease economic stress through job creation or the strengthening of social protection programmes,” commented a senior officer anonymously.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, February 10th, 2020



By TAHIR AMIN on February 11, 2020

Pakistan and China are all set to begin implementation of the second phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) envisaging 27 projects focused on social sectors, poverty alleviation, training, research and improving agriculture productivity at an estimated cost of over one billion dollars.

A senior official of the Ministry of Planning and Development told Business Recorder that 27 projects would be implemented in 2-3 years with initial estimates of one billion dollars. However, according to another official privy to developments the amount may exceed one billion dollars.

The Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) in its 9th meeting held in Islamabad on November 5, 2019 agreed to follow the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on social and economic development and proceed with the 27 agreed-upon priority projects in six sectors identified for cooperation including: (i) agriculture, (ii) education, (iii) medicine, (iv) poverty alleviation, (v) water supply, and (vi) vocational training.

Both sides would proceed with the 27 projects in a steady and orderly manner, of which the 17 fast-track projects would begin implementation in the current year.

Pakistan confirmed the goods list of projects, provision of agricultural equipments and tools as well as the goods list of projects under China-Pakistan joint agricultural technology laboratory as agreed in the JCC end November 2019, and the Letter of Expression (LOE) procedures has also been completed.

However Pakistan has yet to provide project proposals for the remaining 10 priority projects due by the end of 2019 for the Chinese side to start feasibility studies at an early date.

Official said that Chinese experts have completed their visits to all the provinces of Pakistan to finalize the projects’ requirements and equipments under the social sector development programme. List of equipments/items have been finalized and with concurrence from both sides they are ready for implementation.

JCC had agreed to convene the second meeting of Joint Working Group (JWG) on social and economic development in Pakistan after the LOE procedures of all the 17 fast-track projects are completed.

Both sides agreed to accelerate the procedures for the projects including Balochistan solar power lighting equipment, drinking water equipment supply (solar powered pumps in KP and water filtration plants in AJK), smart classroom project for higher education, provision of medical equipment and material and Pakistan vocational schools equipment upgrading and renovation project.

Further horticulture project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and biotechnology projects for Balochistan are finalized and would be completed under the social sector development programme. An oil laboratory would be set up in Islamabad for agriculture sector development.

Sources said that it was also agreed to take agriculture as a key cooperation area on the basis of equality and mutual benefits, enhancing cooperation in capacity building, gennplasm resources, agricultural products processing, technology extension, fisheries, disease-free zone construction, and market information. Pakistan side highlighted that it has huge water resources for agriculture sector and recommended the inclusion of Chashma Right Bank Canal in list of CPEC projects.

Sources said that China has not given commitment for the inclusion of Chashma Right Bank Canal however Pakistan will again highlight the matter in upcoming JCC to be held in Beijing in April.

The project would cost over one billion dollars and is being considered a critical project for meeting agriculture requirements of the country. The second phase of CPEC offers a good opportunity to help the agriculture sector to recover via business-oriented model through value addition i.e. converting raw materials into standard commercial products and brands, the official added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



By RECORDER REPORT on February 12, 2020

Chairman CPEC Authority Lt General Asim Saleem Bajwa (retd) met with Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan who called on him at Chief Minister Secretariat Peshawar and held detailed deliberations on the provincial government developmental projects included in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Chief Minister stated that provincial government is undertaking efforts for the financial self sustainability of the province, for which numerous measures have been undertaken to attract investors, promote industrialization and make the province a tourist hub.

The Chief Minister clarified that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is on way to become a center for regional trade and commerce activities. The completion of Peshawar to D.I.Khan Expressway, Swat Motorway Phase II and Chakdara to Gilgit via Shandoor route will not only help in strengthening communication networks in the province but will also provide greater employment opportunities to the locals.

He further stated that Shandoor route will also be established as an alternate CPEC route. He stated that wheeling of electricity to local industries will attract investors by providing them with cheap electricity thereby increasing the revenue generation of the province.

He clarified that the inclusion of Chashma Right Bank Lift Canal Project in CPEC is a landmark achievement of the incumbent provincial government which will help in poverty alleviation of the southern districts of the province. Similarly, completion of Gomal Zam Dam will eradicate poverty pockets by boosting agriculture productivity in the southern region.

Mahmood Khan reiterated that through provision of conducive environment to investors and industries, the provincial government will also be able to exploit and reap benefits from the tremendous mines & minerals potential in the province, especially in the newly merged tribal districts.

Chairman CPEC Authority, Asim Saleem Bajwa assured all out support to the provincial government projects included in CPEC stating that completion of these projects will not only enhance trade & commerce in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but will also prove to be a major contributor for the economic stability of Pakistan.

On the occasion, the Chief Minister also presented souvenir to the Chairman CPEC Authority. The meeting was also attended by Principal Secretary to CM Shahab Ali Shah, Provincial Coordinator CPEC Authority and other high ranking officials.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020



By Shahbaz Rana Published: February 12, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A powerful group in the federal bureaucracy has blocked the appointment of chief executive officer of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, which is undermining work at the authority ahead of an all-important visit of the Chinese president to Pakistan.

The issue of appointment of the CEO, who will also act as the Principal Accounting Officer (PAO) of the authority, has further complicated matters for the new management as the authority is facing serious financial and human-resource-related issues in its infancy.

Against the demand for a Rs359-million budget to make the authority fully operational, the Ministry of Planning has given only Rs121.4 million – one-third of the demand – for the remaining period of the current fiscal year. Some of the cuts in the budget by the planning ministry were justified as the authority had sought funds for the purchase of luxury SUVs.

CPEC Authority Chairman Lt Gen (Retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, in consultation with Planning Minister Asad Umar, had decided to appoint Ghulam Dastgir Baloch as the CEO, sources told The Express Tribune.

Baloch is a foreign-qualified officer of the Pakistan Railways’ civil service cadre, which has apparently become a reason for blocking his name, the sources said. Baloch has done MSc in Transport Engineering from the University of Leeds, England.

The Prime Minister’s Office had been sent Baloch’s appointment summary over a month ago, official documents, available with The Express Tribune, showed.

However, certain top-level officers in the bureaucracy have approached the CPEC Authority chairman, asking him to pick someone from the Pakistan Administrative Service, formerly DMG, the sources said.

Through a presidential ordinance, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had set up the CPEC Authority in October last year. According to the law, the authority will comprise a chairperson, chief executive officer, executive director (operations), executive director (research) and six members.

The CPEC Authority will interact with China for identifying new areas of cooperation. It will organise meetings of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) and joint working groups of CPEC, and ensure inter-provincial and inter-ministerial coordination for CPEC-related activities, according to the law.

Although the CPEC Authority has started its work, it largely remains dysfunctional due to administrative and financial constraints. All this is happening at a time when Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Pakistan in the next three to four months to give a new push to CPEC.

During the Chinese president’s trip, some major announcements are expected, including on the much-delayed $9.2-billion Mainline-I (ML-I) railway project of CPEC.

Ghulam Dastgir Khan is currently serving in the Ministry of Planning and Development. The CPEC Authority chairman sent requisition of the officer to the planning ministry five weeks ago. The CEO will be a civil servant of BS-20 or above, who shall be appointed on deputation, states the CPEC Authority Ordinance.

The establishment secretary had forwarded the summary to the PM Office for approval on January 7.

“Ghulam Dastgir Khan Baloch, a BS-20 officer of Railways, may be transferred and posted as Chief Executive Officer, CPEC Authority, Islamabad on deputation, for a period of three years, with immediate effect and until further orders,” said the Establishment Division summary. Under the CPEC Authority Ordinance 2019, the prime minister is the competent authority to appoint the CEO. Sources said instead of seeking the PM’s approval, the secretary to PM informally asked to review the name of Dastgir.

Secretary to PM Azam Khan did not respond to the question whether the PM has approved or rejected the proposed name for the CEO. Comments of the planning minister were also awaited.

Under the CPEC Authority Ordinance, the government has given complete financial autonomy to the authority. In December last year, the CPEC Authority chairman demanded Rs359 million to make the body fully operational, according to official documents. However, last month, the planning ministry communicated to give only Rs121.4 million – Rs237.6 million or 66% less than the demand. The planning ministry did not agree to the CPEC Authority’s request for creation of 117 posts and instead, it sent a summary to the Establishment Division to sanction only 70 posts, according to the official documents.

Against the demand for Rs103.53 million for employees-related expenses, the planning ministry approved Rs36.7 million, 64.5% less than the demand.

Against the demand for Rs16.2 million for research activities, the government has given Rs10 million, 38% less than the demand. For meeting operational expenses, the CPEC Authority sought Rs69.1 million but the planning ministry gave Rs23 million, 67% less than the demand.

The Ministry of Planning has made Rs5-million allocation against the demand for Rs20.5 million for travel purposes. For physical assets, the CPEC Authority sought Rs145 million, mainly to purchase two SUV Fortuners, one Land Cruiser, six Toyota Corollas and three Cultus vehicles. But the planning ministry approved the budget for the purchase of four 1,300cc cars and two motorcycles.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2020.



Dawn.com Updated February 14, 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) should be “better explained to Turkish entrepreneurs”, adding that the country is “ready to work on that”.

Speaking at the Pakistan-Turkey Business and Investment Forum in Islamabad alongside Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Turkish president, seemingly referring to CPEC, said: “Turkey is not given the same opportunities that are offered to some other countries.”

The Turkish president began his speech by thanking Pakistan for being “wonderful hosts” on his two-day trip. Recounting his official engagements, Erdogan said that yesterday, he had met President Arif Alvi and, today, also had the opportunity to address a joint session of Parliament.

“Hopefully we’ll open the door for new businesses. We wish to raise the level of Pakistan and Turkey’s business relations to the level of our political relations,” he said.

“Currently, our trade is only $800 m which is not acceptable for us. Our mutual population is over 300 million. Therefore, we have to bring our trade to the level we deserve,” he maintained, adding that we cannot allow protectionism to hinder bilateral trade.

“So we should quickly increase our bilateral trade to $1 billion, and then bring it up to $5 billion. We cannot obtain these objectives only through good will, we have to take determined, clear, and strong steps towards our common objectives.”

In Turkey we have 158 companies with Pakistani capital […] we would like to see more such companies, he said. Currently, we have a model in place for offering Turkish citizenship to investors under certain conditions, he added.

“I invite my Pakistani brethren to have confidence in the Turkish economy, we are among the world’s top 20 economies.

“Turkey had a public debt of 72 per cent which we brought down to 30pc. Despite all the attacks, the economic espionage and the regional situation we continued to grow,” he said, stressing on the country’s banking sector and tourism industry.

“We see that Pakistan is taking important steps in facilitating businesses and providing a conducive environment [for them] under the leadership of my brother Imran. We are aware that Pakistan offers a lot of opportunities.

“We have companies of international renown in the fields of defence, transportation, housing, healthcare, and construction,” he stated.

Talking about Turkish serials and dramas which are popular in the country, he said: “Turkish serials that are followed by millions of people abroad are being followed by Pakistanis too, so we should also venture into filmmaking.”

“I have heard that Pakistanis trust western healthcare more, we have to change that.” Turkey is far more advanced than other western countries, with the latest medical advancements and healthcare, he said.

“With our support, and with the efforts of the business community, our economic-social relations will receive the respect it deserves.”

Commenting on Turkish president’s address at the joint session of Parliament earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that he [Erdogan] can win the next election in Pakistan.

“I saw the treasury benches thumping their desks as well as the opposition benches,” he said, stressing that the current government will do everything to boost business between the two countries.

In order to achieve this, we need the support of the business community in Pakistan, Khan added.

“Pakistan can learn a lot from Turkey’s tourism industry. Pakistan has untapped potential in terms of tourism but we lack the necessary infrastructure,” he said, adding that Pakistan has been recognised as an ideal tourist destination by several publications.

Inviting Turkey to invest in the country, the premier stated that, under his leadership, Pakistan jumped 28 spots on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index. He also assured to fully facilitate the Turkish business community in their joint ventures with Pakistani companies.

Kicking off the meeting, Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industries, Production and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood welcomed the Turkish visitors to the country.

“The two leaders of the countries have agreed an inclusive agreement including trade, tourism. We have people from construction, engineers, and people from all professions, God willing we will take [this business relationship] forward,” he said.

“The two countries had meetings in Davos and we have now reached an understanding. As a final followup, we have signed an understanding on the way forward. Both sides will do a study on what is each other’s relative strength. This study will be completed by March and then we will take it forward in April.”

He added that a textile delegation will go to Turkey and to look at how to further the business. We have a great opportunity to work together, we do compete but like good brothers there is no harm in […] taking things forward, he added.

“We are now capable of becoming an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) country and we will be the closest Asean country to Turkey,” he said, adding that this visit will eventually lead to more trade between the two countries.

In his first official engagement of the two-day visit, the Turkish leader held a meeting with President Arif Alvi, which was followed by a banquet. President Erdogan and Turkish First Lady Emine Erdoğan were received by President Alvi and his wife Samina Alvi as they arrived at the Aiwan-i-Sadr.

During their wide-ranging talks, President Alvi extended a warm welcome to President Erdogan and expressed satisfaction over the level of multifaceted engagement between Pakistan and Turkey, according to a press release issued by the President’s Secretariat.

President Alvi apprised his Turkish counterpart of the “worsening human rights situation” in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and thanked President Erdogan for his “principled stand” on the issue of Kashmir, the tweets said.

The two presidents also exchanged views on regional and international issues, with President Alvi highlighting Pakistan’s efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. He stressed that the world community should extend its help in Afghanistan’s post-conflict reconstruction.

According to the press release, both leaders underlined the significance of the historic bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Turkey in diverse areas including politics, economy, culture, defence and people-to-people contacts. They underscored the importance of fully realising the potential of this relationship and transforming it into a “strong and dynamic trade and economic partnership”.

President Alvi and Erdogan also agreed that Pakistan and Turkey “must continue to work closely to counter challenges facing the Ummah, including Islamophobia”, the statement said.



Shakeel Ahmad RamayPolitical EconomyFebruary 16, 2020

It is very important to ensure a trickle-down from development resulting from CPEC projects

Several studies are now available that analyse the impacts of Belt and Road Initiative and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, but little efforts are made to dissect those studies. Recently, the World Bank has produced a series of reports to analyse the potential impacts of Belt & Route Initiative (BRI), including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Reports, Common Transport Infrastructure, A Quantitative Model and Estimates from the Belt and Road Initiative, The Belt and Road Initiative Economic, Poverty and Environmental Impacts, The Belt and Road Initiative Economic, Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors, have produced substantial information about the potential impact of the BRI and the CPEC till 2030.

The reports show that 71 countries along the BRI will benefit in terms of GDP increase, welfare, trade, FDI and factor return. The most interesting aspect is that non-BRI countries will also benefit from the gains of BRI-related investments. According to the reports, the BRI will reduce travel time by 12 percent in BRI economies and 3 percent in non-BRI economies. Trade will get a boost between 2.7-9.7 percent and 1.7-6.2 percent in BRI and non-BRI countries, respectively. Real income will see a boost of 1.2-3.4 percent and 0.7-2.9 percent in BRI and non-BRI countries respectively. Further, a 1 percent increase in global real income will be equivalent to $ 930 billion in 2014’s prices. An increase of 3.4 percent and 2.6 percent in GDP of BRI and non-BRI economies is expected till 2030.

The BRI will not only contribute in economic indicators. It will also help the governments tackle social and development issues. For example, it is expected that BRI investment will help to lift 7.6 million people out of extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.90). Further, it will help lift 32 million people out of moderate poverty ($3.20). The major beneficiaries would be developing countries (4.3 million, extreme poverty, 26.7 million moderate poverty). Return to factors of production will also increase and its major beneficiaries would be laboir (1.37 percent).

The reports further reveal that Pakistan would be the biggest beneficiary of CPEC. First of all, due to infrastructure investment Pakistan’s GDP will increase by 6.43 percent till 2030. Reforms in governance like tariffs, ease of doing business and trade facilitation can push the increase to 14.03 percent. Welfare affect would be 5.18 percent and reforms will give further impetus and total increase would be 10.51 percent. It will help to bring out 1.1 million people out of extreme poverty. It also has the potential to boost employment opportunities. Pakistan can have 4 million new jobs. Trade will also witness an increase of 9.8 percent, if Pakistan fully implements the CPEC and supports it with reforms.

These projections can be qualified by the current status of CPEC gains. Pakistan has already witnessed tremendous benefits from CPEC-related interventions. According to the latest figures available CPEC has already created 75,000 jobs for Pakistanis. CPEC has also helped Pakistan manage the electricity load shedding.

Infrastructure plays a key role in setting the direction of industrial development and trade enhancement. Small and Medium Enterprises also benefited from the investments in CPEC.

Infrastructure plays a key role in setting the direction of industrial development and trade enhancement. Small and Medium Enterprises (more than 100, CPEC Official Website) also benefited from the investments in CPEC. The contribution of CPEC to national GDP was almost 2 percent. Owing to the big push Pakistan touched the level of 5.8 percent GDP growth in 2018. The World Bank reports show that the major beneficiaries in Pakistan would be Quetta, Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore.

Another study published in Advanced Journal of Transportation shows that the CPEC will also help Pakistan become an active player in transit trade. CPEC’s transport and Sea infrastructure will facilitate trade from Western China and help reduce travel time and cost. According to the report it will help reduce travel time by 20 days for Oman, 21 days for KSA, 24 days for Kuwait, 2 days for Netherlands, 2 days for Germany and 21 days for France. In terms of cost per container, there would be a saving of $1,857 for Oman, $1,457 for KSA, $1,457 for Kuwait, $1,357 for Holland, $1,357 for Germany and $1,357 for France.

China will receive benefits of $ 70 billion due to CPEC route. These calculations were made using trade data of 2016 and assumed an average speed of container to be 40 km/h. It is anticipated that after completion of all infrastructure, the efficiency will improve further. The change of mode of transportation (container to railways) will introduce substantial benefits.

The CPEC has now entered its second phase. Building on the first phase Pakistan will have to work on three things on priority basis. First, tariff modification and rationalization, ways to reduce border clearance days and ease of doing business. Services delivery and digital services for transport sector would be another area of work. There is a dire need to improve the services to facilitate business and trade.

The second important area of work is creating of backward linkages for major transport and other infrastructure. Backward linkages will create conducive environment for business, trade and connectivity. For example, farm to market linkages, major highways and motorways to serve small towns and villages. This will help small famers and producers to deliver their products at lower costs and more efficiently. In the case of agriculture products, it becomes even more important. Considering most of the agriculture products are perishable, better connectivity will help farmers to reduce the time required for delivery and help farmers to get better prices.

It is also critical to ensure a trickle down development. It has been pointed out by World Bank, 2019, that due to weak backward linkages in Pakistan, internal trade might not flourish much. Only a meager increase of 0.8 percent till 2030 is expected. Therefore, government should immediately start working on it and ensure that till 2030 backwards linkages are in the final stage, if not completed.

The third area of intervention must be time management and looking for ways to enhance efficiency of interventions. We have witnessed some delays in some interventions, especially for business community. It is good to note that government is cognizant of the fact and has created the CPEC-Authority.

Lastly, the government must develop a matrix of past mistakes and learning. The future strategy must be developed on the basis of past learning.




By Qaiser Shirazi Published: February 6, 2020

RAWALPINDI: With reports that the project has been shelved by the Punjab government owing to a paucity of funds, the federal railways’ minister on Wednesday insisted that the Nullah Leh Expressway project between the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi will become a reality. For this purpose, he suggested that the project could be included in in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

This was claimed by Federal Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad during a talk at Lal Haveli on Wednesday ahead of his public address.

Rashid, who has been vehemently pursuing the expressway project ever since he was a federal minister during the regime of former dictator General Pervez Musharraf, assured that work on this mega project will commence this year.

“Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to lay the foundation stones of Nullah Leh and the Main Line-1 (ML-1) projects during his visit later this year,” the federal minister said while talking to The Express Tribune.

“We will construct the Nullah Leh Expressway even if we have to twist some necks,” Ahmad said suggestively, adding that the Punjab government will earmark funds for the project in the budget for the next fiscal year.

The project had been revived by the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government after it was halted with the election of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government in 2008.

As preparations began to start work on the much-anticipated Rs80 billion Leh Expressway project, the government had decided to build the road link on a ‘Build, Operate and Transfer’ (BOT) basis. This way, the government had hoped to shed around 85 per cent of the cost for the mega project.

The government had finalised the project concept-I (PC-I) of the Leh Expressway and Prime Minister Imran Khan was expected to lay the foundation stone of the project in August.

However, with the cost of the 30km-long signal-free corridor escalating from Rs50 billion to Rs80 billion, owing to delays, caused the government to backpedal on the project.

The expressway is expected to start from Soan Adda bus terminal near the Islamabad High Court and will be linked with the Ammar Shaheed Chowk through an additional six-kilometre-stretch of road.

Later, Ahmad addressed a rally at his home, Lal Haveli, in connection with Kashmir Solidary Day. The rally started from Lal Haveli and culminated at the same spot after passing through Fawara Chowk. Participants of the rally chanted slogans against the Indian occupation of the disputed Himalayan territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which is split between the nuclear-tipped, hostile neighbours.

Ahmad criticised New Delhi’s atrocities in the occupied territory as well the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) Bill which the Indian parliament had recently passed.

He accused Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of imposing a controversial citizenship law even though the Indian premier does not even have the citizenship certificate of his father.

Labelling people who were not vocal on both issues as traitors, Ahmad said Pakistan never wanted to go to war with its neighbour, but if war is imposed upon it, the Pakistani people will fight until their last breath.

The federal minister further said that the entire whole Rawalpindi was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the military.

“We want IoJK to get free from the clutches of India and become a part of Pakistan,” he stated, adding that keeping Kashmir separate from Pakistan was part of a well-thought design. He expressed that India is now disintegrating due to the policies of Modi.

Ahmad also extended his support for Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Kashmir policy and criticised the opposition leaders, who, according to him, were only hungry for power. The appetite for power was creating anarchy in the country, Ahmad said while taking a veiled swipe at the Sharif brothers, “robbers are roaming on streets abroad wearing hats.”

He said that he never ran away from any case or trial even when he was in opposition. Ahmad termed novel coronavirus a conspiracy against China and said that such hype of a disease outbreak had been created earlier too to defame it.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2020.



The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter February 07, 2020

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Pakistan Railways secretary to produce the approval of the Executive Comm­ittee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) regarding the inclusion of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as the federal and provincial authorities shifted the responsibility to revive the KCR on each other.

A three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed expressed serious resentments over the federal and provincial authorities for not complying with its May 2019 order to revive the KCR and at one stage he warned to put the chief minister of Sindh and the railways secretary on contempt notice.

At the outset of the hearing, when the bench asked the officials about the implementation of its earlier order, Sindh advocate general Salman Talibuddin submitted that the KCR project had been made part of CPEC in 2017 and the Sindh government had made a framework agreement and sent it to the federal government thrice as the provincial government could not directly deal with the contractor, adding that now it was the responsibility of the federal authorities to expedite it.

The railways secretary argued that the railways had already handed over the right of way of the KCR to the provincial government.

Comes down hard on railway and Sindh officials for taking its earlier orders casually

The chief justice came down hard on both the officials and observed that there was no will on the part of the Sindh government and the railways to revive the KCR as they were taking the earlier court order very casually.

At this point, he warned that the court would put the chief minister and the railways secretary on contempt notice for not honouring its previous order. He observed that the provincial government was not willing to undertake this project.

The bench was informed that some high-rise buildings on the railways land have not been demolished yet. It directed the authorities to remove all the encroachments made on the KCR stations and railways land.

The bench was informed that Ecnec had approved the revival of the KCR in 2017 under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2020