ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal said that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will not only a game-changer but could be fate-changer for Pakistan.
The Minister was addressing the annual conference of the Pakistan Society of Development Economists (PSDE) where the Quaid-e-Azam lecture was delivered by Professor Athar Hussain from the prestigious London School of Economics.
While commenting on the development of the Chabahar by Iran and India, he said that Pakistan is not looking at it as a competition but a development that complements CPEC.
“We are the poorest integrated region in the world”, he said, and that CPEC is not just a project of Pakistan but something linking the whole region.
Mr. Iqbal said that policies should be research-based and not formed on the basis of gut feelings, and solutions to the problems should be based on empirical evidence and not on mere judgments.
Therefore, it was necessary that ideas must be discussed in an open environment and the discourse must be free and frank.
Ahsan Iqbal said that ten years ago the world was concerned about the security situation but now every government and think-tank was looking for opportunities to be part of the CPEC.
While giving examples of giants like Blackberry and Nokia who lost their places as global leaders, he said that we must adapt to the changing conditions around the world or else we would be left behind.
“CPEC is not just about transportation infrastructure and energy projects. It is a framework that is much broader, holistic, and looks at all the socioeconomic factors of development,” he said.
He stated that infrastructure and energy are current bottlenecks for development. He revealed that Pakistan would add record 11,000 megawatt energy in the coming three years, which is the biggest investment in the energy sector.
“China does not look at Pakistan as a market but a country with shared destiny,” the minister added. Therefore, the Chinese are helping Pakistan to expedite the development process with their experience.
The three-day long conference was attended by a large number of social scientists, researchers, faculty members from universities across Pakistan, students, policymakers and government functionaries.