YOKOHAMA: Pakistan and India sparred over China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) project at a panel discussion in Yokohama, Japan on Saturday, with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar rejecting Delhi’s objections and reaffirming unequivocal support for Beijing’s transnational initiative.
Speaking at the discussion, held during the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said his country had “reservations over OBOR due to sovereignty issues.” He did not elaborate further but his remarks came in the backdrop of Delhi’s opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of OBOR.
In response, Dar stressed the importance of the project for regional connectivity. “With due respect to some panelists, we strongly support OBOR. It is a great initiative to connect the region,” he said.
In an otherwise drab discussion on ‘Asia’s Economic Outlook: Talking Trade’ – in which ADB President Takehiko Nakao and Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati also participated – this was the only time a disagreement arose. Dar, however, reiterated Pakistan’s position unequivocally.
Pakistan eyes $2.5 billion a year from ADB
Billing intra-regional trade and connectivity essential for sustainable economic development of Asia and the Pacific, the Pakistani minister said such a gigantic leap was needed to address economic challenges and persisting issues in a lasting manner. He added that ADB had a greater role to play in this regard to achieve ultimate economic goals and objectives.
“The world is now a global village. No region can survive economically in isolation. Cooperation, coordination and connectivity are badly needed to ensure economic development in this part of the planet,” Dar said.
“CPEC can not only ensure economic cooperation between China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Iran, but also pave a level playing course for all in terms of economic dividends,” he stressed, adding that regional trade and connectivity would ensure prosperity and check the menace of poverty.
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Pakistan has achieved macro-economic stability
At a separate round table conference on the theme of 'Responding to Rising Inequality', Finance Minister Dar said Pakistan, having achieved macro-economic stability, is now focused on realising higher sustainable growth as part of economic turnaround.
“Pakistan's Vision 2025, which prioritises investment in human capital and social services, recognises the importance of inclusive and balanced growth, and shared prosperity to redress geographical and social inequality,” he said.
The minister added that the “ruling democratic dispensation in Pakistan strongly believes that benefits of growth must be shared by all segments of society, especially marginalised groups.”
(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)