ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal has described Iran and Saudi Arabia’s desire to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework as a good indication and said Pakistan would welcome their participation.

“We will welcome both the brotherly Islamic countries if they want to be part of CPEC,” he told APP.

Iran wishes to be part of CPEC: Rouhani

Pakistan, he said, would also welcome and appreciate any friendly country which wanted to take part in the multibillion-dollar flagship project of the “One Belt One Road” initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

CPEC, a trans-regional project, will benefit three billion people of the region through enhanced regional connectivity with Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa playing a critical role in integrating the entire region.

It is a 15-year-long project to be completed in 2030 with special focus on infrastructure development, Gwadar seaport, energy and industrial cooperation.

‘CPEC one of greatest projects in region’

Terming CPEC one of the best and transparent projects where no transaction was directly made by the government, Iqbal said $35 billion would be utilised by the energy sector in the form of private-sector investment while the remaining $11 billion would be invested by Chinese companies in infrastructure development under a concessionary mode of financing.

About the western route of CPEC, he said work on that part of the corridor was progressing at full pace and it would be completed by 2018.

He revealed that the 650km Gwadar-Quetta section of the western route would be ready by December 2016. With this route, Gwadar will be connected not only to Quetta, but also to neighbouring Afghanistan.

“Following completion of the western route, people living in underdeveloped areas will experience a new era of development and prosperity,” he said.

The minister reiterated the government’s commitment to giving top priority to road projects of the western passage. “The road schemes were being funded through the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), Chinese financing and the Asian Development Bank.”

‘CPEC has set foundation for industrial cooperation’

He announced that construction work on the 285km DI Khan-Hakla motorway, entirely funded by the PSDP, had already started after meeting all requirements including feasibility study, project design, land acquisition and necessary approvals.

Iqbal stressed that Gwadar and the national highway network would be linked with the completion of N-85 and M-8 highway projects by December 2016, which also formed part of the western corridor.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.

Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.