KARACHI: Former president and the PPP Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari has claimed that his party has gone down in history as pioneer of the idea of the multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and is not concerned as to who takes credit for the project by placing advertisements on media.
Zardari was addressing the PPP lawmakers – MNAs, MPAs, and Senators – after a briefing by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on the CPEC with special reference to province’s share in the mega economic project. The PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP Sindh President Nisar Khuhro, former chief minister Qaim Ali Shah were also present at the presentation.
Zardari said it was the PPP founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who initiated this ‘infinite concept’; entered into dialogue with China and resolved border issue with the neighbouring country.
“Several books are needed to cover the CPEC, whose idea goes beyond thousand years and our future generations will continue to eat the fruits of this game-changing project,” he said.
The PPP co-chairperson said more than 500 Chinese have done PhDs on Pakistan and now they are communicating in Urdu. “We have to take ownership of the CPEC and every area being developed under this project is our own,” he added.
Zardari pointed out that sea has encroached on 350,000 acres of Sindh’s coastal land.
“We presented the idea of Zulfikarabad to reclaim this land but some elements started negative campaign to unsuccessfully scare our future Chinese partners away from the project,” he said.
He said he paid his first-ever diplomatic visit as president to China to strengthen the strong relations developed with the friendly country by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and the PPP’s slain leader Benazir Bhutto.
“BB also wanted a martial plan for our development and she planned 50,000MW power projects but the same were scrapped because her governments were dismissed midway through her tenures,” he added. The former president said Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now planning to enter into currency-swap agreements with other countries while the PPP governments signed such agreements with China, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Iran a half decade back.
Earlier in his briefing, CM Shah said, “Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had stated in 1968 that it was only China which has the capacity and the will to help us and he initiated the ground-work for the CPEC, which has been pioneered by President Asif Ali Zardari through his diplomatic acumen and sagacity.”
He said even after leaving presidency, Zardari and Bilawal paid visits to China to give fillip to the CPEC.
He said due to ill-planning of the ruling Sharif brothers and their machinery, several projects from Punjab have been excluded from the CPEC. However, he said, the PPP led Sindh government has been able to include Keti Bunder, Thar Coal and Wind Power projects in the CPEC.
“Sindh is the only province whose two cities – Karachi and Sukkur – are part of the CPEC. Karachi Circular Railway has also reached the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of the two countries,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2017.