BEIJING: Cooperation with China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) “has transformed Pakistan’s economic landscape,” Islamabad’s ambassador in Beijing Moin ul-Haque said.
In an interview with Xinhua, Haque spoke highly of the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of BRI, saying it is “transformational” for his entire country.
Besides the Gwadar Port, which he said has become the crown jewel of the CPEC, Haque also lauded the eco-friendly Orange Line metro train in Lahore, the first of its kind in Pakistan, which officially opened for traffic in October 2020.
“You see the metro train, it is a world-class, high-quality public transport system. In Lahore, people have this very efficient, very modern and affordable transport system,” he said.
According to Haque, BRI projects have benefited the Pakistani people through job creation, improving livelihoods, eradicating poverty and upgrading remote areas.
Infrastructure development and energy upgrades have “helped change the economic, social and industrial landscape of Pakistan,” said Haque.
So far, more than 70,000 jobs have been created thanks to BRI cooperation, stressed Haque, adding that according to his government’s forecast, another half a million direct and indirect jobs will be created in the next five to seven years.
He further elaborated that “all these philosophies and dimensions of BRI directly contribute to the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).”
The 17 SDGs were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, and others.
Being a witness to the signing of a series of BRI cooperation agreements between Pakistan and China, the ambassador also shared with Xinhua his personal experiences.
He recalled the difficult nights when the temperature was as high as 40 degrees celsius, the light went out and the fan stopped working due to power shortage, and one could not sleep.
Thanks to BRI projects, frequent power outages in peak season are now a thing of the past, he said.
The ambassador told Xinhua that his country is seeking more cooperation with China on industry modernization and information technology (IT) since Pakistan began working on its special technology zones.
In September last, Pakistan and China established a joint working group on information technology at the 10th Joint Cooperation Committee meeting of the CPEC.
Since assuming ambassadorship in Beijing in 2020, Haque has visited Z-park on several occasions, also known as China’s Silicon Valley, to see how Pakistan can learn from the Chinese side in IT technology, artificial intelligence, 5G, robotics and cloud computing.
In February, Pakistan’s Special Technology Zones Authority and China’s Zhongguancun “Belt and Road” Industrial Promotion Association signed a letter of intent to promote high-quality science and technological exchanges between the two countries.
“It’s just the beginning,” Haque said, expecting closer cooperation among research institutions and universities. “We want to see more cooperation in this area.”
Noting the Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented global economic impact, the diplomat called for collective effort, international solidarity and cooperation to address which he said is the biggest challenge faced by humanity in a long time.
“The BRI has played, is playing and is going to play a very important role for stabilizing the economies of the world and bringing countries together for tackling challenges like Covid-19,” said Haque.