In his address with a seminar in Gawadar, the army chief said, “CPEC is the grand manifestation of the deep-rooted ties between China and Pakistan. Much larger than its bilateral benefits, CPEC is indeed a corridor of peace & prosperity, not only for the people of Pakistan & China but also for the region and beyond.”
He dubbed CPEC a ‘lifetime opportunity’ for Pakistan to improve the socio-economic equation of its underprivileged areas and populace, assuring the people of Balochistan that it is they, who will benefit the most from the fruits of this project.
Military offensive in final stages
Coming to the ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb, the military commander expressed satisfaction saying that we are in the final stages of our military operation in FATA.
“I take pride in mentioning the strong resolve and sacrifices offered by the people, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and our gallant armed forces,” he said. “Zarb-e-Azb is not only an operation but a wholesome concept aimed at ultimately breaking the syndicate of terrorism, extremism and corruption.”
“I urge the international community to not only acknowledge our successes and sacrifices, but also come forward in blocking external help to these terrorist organizations and their facilitators, abettors and financiers.”
Zooming out to the global and regional level, the COAS said that we have seen a wide appreciation of CPEC by many world powers who appreciate the true potential of CPEC as a catalyst of economic transformation of the entire region.
“We look forward to the emergence of modern infrastructure, special economic zones, health facilities and universities which will bring enduring benefits for our people,” he said.
He mentioned that though Gwadar is central to the broader conception of CPEC, the corridor itself ranges from Western China to the plains and coasts of Pakistan and promises to bring prosperity to the remotest areas of Pakistan from Gilgit-Baltistan to Balochistan.
Efforts to destabilize CPEC
“The project, at the same time, has also raised many eyebrows by those competing for influence in the region,” he said highlighting that India, our immediate neighbor, has openly challenged this development initiative.
Making a special reference to Indian covert agency RAW that is blatantly involved in destabilizing Pakistan, the army chief asserted: “We will not allow anyone to create impediments and turbulence in any part of Pakistan.”
It is therefore important for all to leave behind confrontation, and focus on cooperation, he urged.
Development in Balochistan
General Raheel Sharif said that since the onset of CPEC, Balochistan has seen unprecedented development of communication infrastructure.
“We mobilized Army engineers for construction and, Army and Frontier Corps (FC) units for security of the projects. Over the past two years, six hundred and seventy five km of roads have already been constructed, while by the end of this year, FWO will complete a total of eight hundred and seventy km of road infrastructure,” he noted.
“With Gwadar as pivot, the dividends of CPEC will be reaped not only by Balochistan but shall spread across the entire rim of Indian Ocean region.”
Security of CPEC
“I assure you that security of CPEC is our national undertaking and we will not leave any stone unturned,” said the army chief. “We will continue to keep a close watch on its every step. To this effect, a fifteen thousand strong dedicated force is already in place under the ambit of Special Security Division.”
Emphasizing youth as the greatest asset; the hope and future of this great nation, General Sharif said that whatever we build today, we build it for them, adding, “The investment that we are making in our youth today, will enable them to take on the challenges of tomorrow and lead the country to a prosperous future.”
At the end, he thanked the brave people of Balochistan, government officials, officers and men of the FC and Southern Command in transforming the environment which made quick development possible and paved the way for progress.