Employees of China State Construction Engineering Corp pave along the Peshawar-Karachi Motorway, a project under the CPEC, in Pakistan. [Photo provided to China Daily]

ISLAMABAD´╝ŹPakistan’s economy will receive a boost from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will enable the country to enhance industrial and agriculture production, and improve its connectivity with countries in the region, said Asim Saleem Bajwa, chairman of the country’s CPEC Authority.

The first phase of CPEC has filled the gaps in Pakistan’s infrastructure, with primary focus on energy and communication infrastructure.

The second phase will focus on passing the benefits of the CPEC to the general public by creating employment and investment opportunities through initiation of industrialization and broadening the scope of agriculture sector, said Bajwa.

“We will increase our exports, and it will be a big boost to our economy. And similarly, when we go into agriculture, this is going to benefit maximum people by creating more employment and enhancing the yields of the crops of the farmers … The CPEC is a project which will eventually benefit the people of Pakistan,” he said.

Explaining Pakistan’s plan to boost industrialization under the CPEC, he said the authority identified nine special economic zones in which they will invite investors from all over the world to set up or relocate their operations, enabling the country to increase its exports.

He said his country was affected by COVID-19, but the pandemic did not have any impact on CPEC projects, which kept on working at full swing and no project was halted, adding that the Chinese working on the CPEC in Pakistan came to the country in chartered planes to complete the ongoing projects.

Talking about the improving connectivity with regional countries under the CPEC, Bajwa said that freight from Afghanistan has already started arriving at Gwadar port, and Central Asian countries have also approached the Pakistani commerce ministry to let them move their freight via Gwadar.

“Gwadar port has great potential for trans-shipment … It is going to open up so many avenues… So many new companies are approaching us and the relevant ministries to start the trading via Gwadar.”

On the forthcoming railway project Main Line-1 under the framework of the CPEC, he said the project will not only enhance connectivity within Pakistan, but will also connect it with other regional countries and with their railways.

“It will open up this entire region for a great economic boom. We see a very bright future and very bright prospects for the CPEC. Its dividends are not only for Pakistan and its people but for the people of the entire region.”

The ML-1 project is the rehabilitation and upgradation of the 1,872-kilometer railway track between Karachi and Peshawar.

He said that through ML-1, connectivity with the regional countries and movement of freight to and from the regional countries will not only integrate the region but also bring more lasting peace and boost economic development to economies in the region.

“I can assure that the people of Pakistan and the government have a very clear vision, that there is nothing that can stop or disrupt the progress of the CPEC, which is for the future of this country. Our economic future is linked with …China’s. Therefore, it will progress… nothing will be able to disrupt or slow down the progress of the CPEC.”

He also lauded China for its support to enable Pakistan to handle COVID-19 at the initial stage of the outbreak, recalling the time when the Pakistani president visited China during the peak of the pandemic to show support for China.

The Chinese government, companies and people helped Pakistan by sending useful medical equipment to fight against the viral disease, he said.