Pakistan and China are in regular contacts to firm up dates for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Islamabad next month to witness the signing of about 14 investment agreements of over $10 billion. In Islamabad, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong met Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to discuss economic cooperation, says an official statement.
“We are happy to see Pakistan-China Economic Corridor moving ahead smoothly,” the statement quoted the ambassador. He said the ongoing third round of the Pakistan-China Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) was in progress in Beijing and large projects in energy and infrastructure sectors would be taken up with the help of the Chinese government. He said China would continue to take the relations to higher levels. He praised Pakistan’s support for the Asia Infrastructure Development Bank by becoming one of its founding members. In Beijing, meanwhile, a JCC meeting also discussed agreements to be signed during the Chinese president’s visit. Under the agreements, China would provide financial assistance for 14 energy projects and four major infrastructure projects, including Karakoram Highway Phase-II, development of Gwadar Port and Lahore-Karachi Motorway.
The Pakistani delegation to Beijing includes Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and federal secretaries. Mr Shahbaz Sharif said President Xi’s visit would be of “extraordinary importance”. He said during the visit the Chinese president would inspect the ongoing power and infrastructure projects and lay the foundation of new projects. He said contractors for the Orange Line Metro Train project in Karachi would be selected soon. Mr Ahsan Iqbal said the construction of Khunjerab-Gwadar Motorway would result in wide-ranging economic cooperation in the region. Dr Abdul Malik Baloch said that the process of acquisition of land for Gwadar Port had been completed. He said the law and order situation had improved over the past year and Balochistan would soon see a new era of progress and development.
In Beijing, the Pakistani and Chinese officials reached a consensus to complete several short-term energy- and transport-related projects by 2017. The consensus arrived at a meeting of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. According to a statement of the Pakistan embassy in China, the meeting was co-chaired by Hu Zucai, Vice Chairman National Development and Reform Commission of China, and Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal. Mr Iqbal said a consensus had been reached on several power projects, adding that under the agreement 9,000 megawatts of electricity would be made available in the country by 2017-18. He said Chinese companies would construct the Karachi-Lahore Motorway and the Multan-Sukkur section of the motorway on built, operate and transfer basis. At Gwadar, he said, a modern airport would be built and a hospital and training facility and industrial parks would be set up. -dawn