LAHORE: British High Commissioner Philip Burton has put his country’s weight behind the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying that the $46-billion mega project marks a new dawn for the South Asian country.
Burton, speaking during his visit to the under-construction Nishat Emporium in Lahore, said the international community was once again looking at Pakistan with confidence.
“I am looking at a reverse of brain drain in Pakistan,” said Burton. “The CPEC would prove to be the game changer. A new Pakistan is emerging due to the state of the art development projects.”
He said the country’s security situation has improved significantly, which helps in stabilising the country’s economy.
However, he reminded Pakistani manufacturers to adhere to international conventions on human rights and labour standards for continued access to EU markets under the GSP Plus status.
“We would like Pakistani companies to have the best opportunities in EU markets. More British brands are coming to Pakistan, giving a boost to the domestic retail sector.”
Meanwhile, Nishat Group Chairman Mian Muhammad Mansha appreciated the keen interest and support of the British government. He said Britain’s services sector was very enthusiastic in participating in CPEC projects.
Mansha, while expressing his optimism over the CPEC, said he visited Urumqi in China and saw it buzzing with activity.
“My host in Urumqi is developing housing and hotels as he anticipates more activity with the CPEC. I asked an official of the communist party as to why they are supporting Pakistan all the way in this project.
“The official pointed out that China is land locked from three sides and Gwadar could prove to be hugely beneficial not just for China, but all central Asian states.
“This is the time for Pakistan to open up and take advantage of the corridor.”
Mansha called on the government to promote private sector projects through the auction of unutilised land, which he said would invite interest.
“We need state of the art shopping malls. The government can sell unutilised land, pay off its debt and let the private sector invest. Pakistan Railways alone is sitting on thousands of acres of land. It can become profitable if it sells that land through a transparent method.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 15th, 2015.