CPEC win-win project for Pakistan & China – Sartaj Aziz.

Source: The Nation.

ISLAMABAD – Former finance minister and PML-N leader Sartaj Aziz has said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a win-win arrangement for both Pakistan and China and all projects under the CPEC must be materialised without any delay as it would lead to industrialisation in Pakistan

He was speaking at the opening plenary of 21st Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Wednesday.

Aziz said that CPEC is not only a package of road and energy projects, but also a tool of connectivity among think tanks, public and private sector, common people, and ideas. For successful transformation from trade to knowledge corridor, he said, it is very important to take confidence-building measures among all the stakeholders.

“The real challenge of 21st century is artificial intelligence and technological upheaval, which took over physical existence of labour force, he said, adding that however, at the same time it brings prosperity in the society as a whole. He maintained that technology is going to transform the job market and the real challenge was how we were preparing ourselves to take up this challenge. He stressed the need to build knowledge corridor under CPEC that, what he said, would help Pakistan bridge the gap between artificial intelligence and technology.

About the issue of climate change South Asia is facing today, he said that the real issue was of capacity to tackle the dire implication of climate change. He further said that water was an important part of the climate change and we need to go beyond building dams, which is water security, water course lining, drip irrigation, and water management. He said that existing irrigation practices were not compatible which is consuming 60 per cent of our freshwater resources. He said that planning for affordable energy resources was another challenge to tackle and we need to concentrate on agriculture sector which will increase our exports growth and agricultural trade. For that we need to focus on agriculture for the next three to four years, he added.

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In his introductory speech, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that one of the objectives of this 21st edition of SDC was to highlight importance of knowledge connectivity among three culturally and academically rich regions, i.e. South Asia, Central Asia, and China. He said that one of the pre-requisites for knowledge corridors was intellectual and academic interaction, where the CPEC had the potential to link South Asia to China and Central Asia. However, in order to get maximum benefit out of this economic corridor, Dr Suleri said, Pakistan needed to build a knowledge corridor with China and Central Asia. In order to harness full potential of emerging economic corridors, governments in South Asia must take specific initiatives within a new policy paradigm for pursuing peace, overcoming poverty and protecting the life support systems of the planet, he added.

Haroon Sharif, chairman of Board of Investment, said that it was important to reflect upon why South Asia is lagging behind in capitalising on its true potential of trade, connectivity, and investments. “The opportune time will not come by itself, and we have to create and strive for the right time to move.” The lens with which the developed world used to look at South Asian countries is changing from security to huge market for trade and investments, he said, adding that this transition from geo-political and security lens to economic lens is putting Pakistan back on track of growth and development. He said that economies in West Asia, East Asia and beyond were now looking towards us in terms of improved and enhanced economic relations. He also stressed the need to look at Pakistan’s capability to handle the demands of the emerging markets.

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He said that new financial architecture was emerging in the region, such as opening of Asian Infrastructure Bank, Silk Road Fund, China Development Bank, and BRIC bank, therefore, there was a need to learn as to how this region could smartly use these resources for growth and prosperity. At public policy level, Sharif said that there was a very clear realisation at political leadership level that the partnerships with key Asian states could be successful only if we ensured transparency and zero-tolerance for corruption.

Prof Amitabh Kundu, fellow of Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), India said that climate change and environmental degradation was the major issue and it was the shared responsibility of all countries of Asia to tackle this challenge through cooperation. Identifying the issue of growing inequality, he said that it was a big hurdle in achieving SDGs in the region. In order to achieve the shared objectives of growth and prosperity, he said, we must address the three major dimensions of human development, i.e. inequality in economic, health and education sectors.

He said that South-South Cooperation and regional integration would go a long way in handing these challenges and that must be built on mutual trust. The essence of this cooperation is solidarity among countries of the South that could contribute to national well-being. “We should all work for a collective agenda for development of South Asia that might lead the region towards new heights of hope, progress, and prosperity.

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