QUETTA: Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) “a gift from nature and a gateway to Pakistan’s prosperity and Balochistan’s peace.”
“CPEC has positively changed the identity of Pakistan in the whole world,” he said at a seminar in Gwadar.
Iqbal said Pakistan’s infrastructure was in a shambles when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz came to power in 2013. “There was an energy crisis, load-shedding and unemployment. Roads were in a deplorable condition,” he said, adding that all these challenges had been greatly addressed now.
By 2015 Pakistan was considered the epicenter of terrorism, Iqbal said. “But the perception altered after the 2015 economic revolution in the country.”
“We have moved Pakistan away from geopolitics to geoeconomics,” he said. In 2013, he said they laid the foundation of the country’s economic prosperity, and its roots further strengthened following the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping which opened new vistas of developments and investments in Pakistan in general and in Balochistan in particular.
“How can you put an end to poverty, if you do not create resources? How can you partake in the construction of modern infrastructure? If you do not create resources, then you will remain subservient and inferior to other nations,” he said.
For the past 70 years, he said, Quetta, the provincial capital, was not connected to Gwadar through road. But now a road has been built between Quetta and Gwadar which has reduced the travel time to eight hours.
Lastly, he said the pattern of sending and pushing the people of Balochistan into the so-called war of freedom was wrong, adding, “This pattern and strategy should be stopped. Baloch youth should become a part of the mainstream and participate in the development of their province and country.”
Several representatives of Gwadar Chamber of Commerce and Federal Chamber of Commerce were also present on the occasion.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2017.