Beginning of a new, prosperous era
Despite its economy being hit hard by flawed economic policies, political chaos, and a wave of terrorism, Pakistan has made a significant breakthrough on the economic front as well as against terrorist outfits.
With the military going all out in North Waziristan Agency and adjoining areas to dismantle the operational infrastructure and hideouts of terrorists, the PML-N government has achieved a landmark goal by signing numerous agreements with the Chinese government.
Though the amount for all agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is around US$34 billion, around 22 agreements have already been signed between the friendly neighbours. These include bilateral agreements for Economic and Technical Cooperation; Government’s Concessional Loan Agreement for Construction of Cross-Border Optical Fibre Cable System between China and Pakistan; Signing of Minutes of the 3rd JCC Meeting of CPEC; Signing of MOU on the Outline of Long Term Plan of CPEC; Signing of MOU on Capacity Building for Development of CPEC; Framework Agreement for Construction of Cross-border Optical Fibre Cable System between China and Pakistan; MOU on Cooperation of Textile Garment Industrial Park Projects in Pakistan; and some other projects.
In energy sector, MOU on Surface Mine in Block-II of Thar Coal Mine and the Engro Thar 2X330 MW Coal Fired Power Plant between Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company and China Development Bank Corporation have been signed.
In Gwadar, agreements have been made to construct Gwadar New International Airport; Gwadar Eastbay Expressway; Hospital at Gwadar; Technical & Vocational Training Institute
Others included MoUs for development of Thermal Power Assets for Pakistan, HUBCO Power Company Limited (2 x 660MW including Jetty); Memorandum of Facilitation between Port Qasim Electric Power Company Private Limited and Government of Pakistan (2X660); Memorandum of Facilitation Agreement between Govt of Punjab and M/s Huaneng Shandong Rui Group, China for Development of 1320 (2×660) MW Coal Fired Power Project at Qadirabad, Sahiwal; Signing of Framework Facility Agreement on Sukhi-Kinari Hydro Power Project; Memorandum of Facilitation Agreement between Govt of Punjab and M/s China Machinery Engineering Corporation China (CMEC) for 1×660 MW Coal fired power plant at Muzaffargarh.
In Gwadar, agreements have been made to construct Gwadar New International Airport; Gwadar Eastbay Expressway; Hospital at Gwadar; Technical & Vocational Training Institute; Water Supply and Distribution; Infrastructure for Free Zone & EPZs port related Industries and Marine works.
The infrastructure projects planned included Karakorum Highway (KKH) Phase II (Raikot-Islamabad); Karachi-Lahore Motorway (KLM) – (Multan-Sukkur Section); Expansion & Reconstruction of existing Mail Railway Line (ML-1); Peshawar to Karachi
Construction of Havelian Dry Port; Orange Line Project at Lahore; and Cross Border Optical Fiber Cable system project.
Significant Energy Projects are being installed of around 10,400 megawatts. Those projects included the Port Qasim Electric Power Company (2X660) 1320 megawatts; Engro Thar Coal-fired Power Plant 660 megawatts; Sindh Sino Resources Power Plant of Thar Coal (Block-1) 1320 megawatts; Gwadar Coal Power Project 300 megawatts; Rahimyar Khan Coal Power 1320 megawatts; Muzaffargarh Coal Power 1320 megawatts; Sahiwal Power Plant 1320 megawatts; Suki Kinari Power Project 870 megawatts; Karot Hydro Power Station 720 megawatts; UEP Wind Power Project 100 megawatts; Sunec Wind Power Project 50 megawatts; Sachal Wind Power Project 50 megawatts; Dawood Wind Power Project 50 megawatts; Quaid-e-Azam Solar 900 megawatts; and Quaid-e-Azam Solar 100 megawatts.
In order to operationalise China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Chinese government has set up a special economic zone in the historical city of Kashgar, which is the border city between China and Pakistan.
For the purpose of making the economic zone operational, the Chinese government has been involved in constructing a multi-billion-dollar New Kashgar City, where Kashgar Special Economic Zone is being constructed.
The Chinese government plans to complete this economic zone by year 2020, and industrialists have been offered tax-free zone and government’s other concessions.
This economic zone would prove to be the linchpin for trade between China, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and eight other central Asian states which border both China and Pakistan.
Not only a road network is being constructed to ensure swift trade via this link but also a rail network is also being laid to ensure fast delivery of goods to the rest of the world through Gwadar and Karachi ports.
The integrated project has been designed under a holistic approach to link modern means of communication including rail, road links with trade and economic opportunities not only for both China and Pakistan but for entire South Asia region.
These projects would serve as a unique development model where infrastructure is being developed by the public sector and the private sector is provided with land and financial assistance on very convenient and preferential terms.
For the purpose of making the economic zone operational, the Chinese government has been involved in constructing a multi-billion-dollar New Kashgar City
With its proximity to Pakistan (approximately 500 kilometres) and a flying time of around one hour, Kashgar-Gawadar Economic Corridor may prove to be a game-changer for development in Pakistan, India and beyond.
The early harvest projects of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would be completed within a span of two to three years. These include laying of rail, road networks besides several long and short term energy projects.
This trade initiative has strategic importance for China as well as Pakistan as it would provide an opportunity to reach out to the Central Asian states through Pakistan and Afghanistan.
There is an integrated communication network which would not only benefit Pakistan but also China to help open a new vista of trade with the rest of the world in a short period of time. Chinese trade with this route would grow manifold.
The New Kashgar Economic Zone is spread on 6600 acres of land and various provincial governments of China and some private firms are developing their own projects within the tax free zone.
All necessary civic facilities are available in Kashgar New City Project where the preservation of farms is also being ensured. In the eastern part of the Kashgar New City, residential areas, hospitals, parks and other civic facilities are being made available. Since Kashgar borders eight countries, a business city has been named after each country of the region.
The business community of the entire region may benefit from the ambitious project designed to share and expand the trade opportunities for progress and development of South Asia. This would not only help regional governments to fight poverty, illiteracy and religious fanaticism, but also bring development and prosperity of the people of around ten developing states.