By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser Wednesday said Pakistan was ready to facilitate neighbouring countries so that they could benefit from projects of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
He was speaking as a chief guest at a seminar on “Role of Parliaments in cementing regional integration” here at the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services. He said the economic, trade and cultural ties among the countries in the region were spread over centuries. Immense opportunities were available for promoting cooperation among countries of the region in trade and other sectors, he added.
He said Pakistan wanted to increase effectiveness of CPEC as a means to further progress and prosperity of the region.
The NA Speaker said Pakistan was going through a war like situation in the last 30 years, adding that Pakistan’s economy suffered a lot due to Afghan war and the war against terrorism. He said the regional economy could be improved with the completion of CPEC. “I wish that Central Asian States should be included in the CPEC project.” Asad said CPEC project was the guarantee for the future generations.
He assured all kinds of cooperation to regional countries for success of CPEC and said Parliament could play a vital role in strengthening bilateral ties between the countries. Promotion of bilateral relations was important for protecting regional interests, he stressed. He said CPEC could play a vital role in bringing countries of the region together. He said economy of Pakistan was under stress and “we have to take steps to make it stable”.
The NA Speaker said parliamentary diplomacy could play a critical role in enhancing regional cooperation and prosperity. Pakistan had an important geographical position and it was a connection between Asia and the countries in the Arab world and they could benefit from CPEC, he reminded.
Asad said Pakistan was determined to increase its share in the international trade. The seaports of Pakistan were the shortest route to provide access to the Central Asian countries to the world markets, he added. The NA Speaker said parliamentary friendship groups were activated to boost regional cooperation and help the Pakistani state achieve its objectives. He said goal of Pakistan was to increase its exports.
Pakistani exports could make their mark in Africa which should be explored for different products, he added. China’s ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said in the next phase of CPEC, special economic zones would be built in Pakistan.
He said China would now invest in building vocational and training centres and in research in agriculture and livestock sectors. Most of the CPEC projects were investment of Chinese companies and not loans to the Pakistan government, he clarified.
Jing said CPEC was launched because of the friendship between Pakistan and China, adding that China wanted progress and development all across Pakistan. He said that China would succeed in eradicating poverty among its people in the next year.
Chairman Parliamentary Committee on CPEC Sher Ali Arbab said Pakistani population was huge and it was a challenge as well as an opportunity.
“We have to take the lead for achieving prosperity for people of Pakistan and for the region.” Sher Ali said Pakistan could not develop without gender empowerment and equality. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said the next phase of CPEC was relocation of Chinese industry to Pakistan.
“China has offered one billion dollars for socioeconomic development in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and certain areas of Sindh.” He said Pakistan was at the centre of regional connectivity. A large number of parliamentarians, diplomats and members of civil society attended the event.