BEIJING: Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed has welcomed Pakistan's offer to Saudi Arabia to become the third partner in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework, saying it would provide a new trade route between China and the Gulf countries.
"The corridor is not only meant for China and Pakistan, but it is a framework of the development and connectivity for other countries of the region and beyond as well," he told APP here before leaving for Islamabad on Monday after attending a conference on Belt and Road in China.
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He said that Saudi Arabia was a brotherly country and its participation in the CPEC would prompt other countries of the region to join this multi-billion dollars flagship project of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which would be a good sign for peace and prosperity.
He said during the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Pakistan, both China and Pakistan had agreed that the corridor construction could absorb third-party participation and benefit the entire region.
To a question about the smooth progress of the CPEC under the new government, he said the entire nation had a consensus over the framework and expressed the confidence that it would continue as per schedule.
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"Both the Chinese and Pakistani sides have expressed complete satisfaction over the progress of the CPEC and reached a new consensus on better promoting the construction of the corridor," he added.
He said the CPEC was a long-term plan and expressed confidence that as it moved forward it would bring about prosperity and peace in Pakistan as well as the region.
Senator Mushahid opined that the corridor would equally benefit the people across the country, saying that power stations, major highways and other development projects were being completed in all parts of the country.
"The key infrastructure development as well as the growth of industrial estates around the new routes will help connect the country and spread growth more equitably, raise living standard and increase the opportunity of employment for millions of people," he added.
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Highlighting Pakistan's economic growth after joining the CPEC, he said that the projects under the framework had boosted Pakistan's economic growth by one or two percentage points every year, adding that the GDP growth rate remained 5.9 per cent, highest in the last nine years, because of investment from China.
Congratulating China on the completion of five years of the BRI announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping, he said that since the initiative was launched in late 2013, China had signed 150 cooperation documents with 106 countries and 29 international organisations.
The CPEC, the Pakistan leg of China's vast BRI, was a reality and the benefits of this flagship project were visible and it had ushered in a new era of economic development in Pakistan.
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"We have overcome the shortage of electricity while a number of infrastructure projects are being completed in different parts of the country," he added.
Terming Pakistan a major beneficiary of its rich and deep relationship with China, he said that in recent years, the work being carried out under the BRI had become a game changer for Pakistan.
"A number of power generation projects have been completed in Pakistan. As a result, electricity load-shedding has reduced drastically. Infrastructure, road and transport projects are also being completed, while work to complete different facilities at Gwadar Deep Sea Port is progressing well. Around 70,000 locals have also got employment owing to the ongoing development projects under CPEC," he added.
He said the building of power stations, major highways, new and upgraded railways and higher capacity ports, fibre optic cable and airports would help turn Pakistan into a major overland route linking western China to the world.
He said that the BRI offers the prospect of enlarged trade, production and prosperity - not only for its 60 participating countries but also for the entire global community.
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