ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has called upon Pakistani professionals to explore opportunities offered by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) so that the country could reap maximum benefits from this highly significant and multidimensional project covering different sectors

Addressing the meeting of professionals, coming from different backgrounds, here on Wednesday, Ahsan opined that Pakistan’s growth in multiple sectors gained considerable momentum during the last three years and the world had witnessed economic boost due to consistent policies and strategies aimed at strengthening the economic sector.

He said, “We as a nation need to think positively and equip ourselves with self belief without which the image of our country cannot be mended.”

Ahsan boasted that Pakistan of 2016 was much better than it was in 2013. “Improvement of indicators in social, economic, security and energy sectors is a clear evidence of stability in these sectors and a better tomorrow,” he added.

The minister also highlighted the historical perspective of growth and development patterns in the country and pointed out that these proved to be short-lived because of factors which led the country’s entry into geo-strategic alliances instead of geo-economic partnerships.

Ahsan said the government was committed to take Pakistan to the level where it could be ranked among top 25 economies of the world by 2025.

“The international media in the past labeled Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world and a safe heaven for terrorism, but today the same media organisations and the world refer to Pakistan as investment destination and an emerging economy.

He said the 20th century belonged to political ideologies but today was the era of political economy, economic stability and inclusive growth.

“Today we are living in the world where there is competition and knowledge based economy, the professionals are custodians of knowledge and thereby can be termed as knowledge workers,” he observed.

Ahsan said, “CPEC would benefit all the provinces, especially the most-backward ones.”

He informed that Sindh was the largest recipient of energy projects , where out of total $35 billion, energy projects worth $11.5 billion would be completed under the CPEC .

“A 10,000 megawatt (MW) power plant will be built by 2018 while additional 15,000 MW will be added to national grid by 2025,” he said, adding “The government is building new dams, including Diamer Bhasha Dam and Dasu dam.”

The minister said $35 billion energy component of the CPEC would not only help overcome the energy crisis but would also upgrade the power transmission and distribution system.

“Gwadar component of the CPEC would not only develop the city into a seaport, but an international airport and an expressway would also be built there besides hospitals and technical and vocational training institutes,” he elaborated.

“We have also increased the higher education budget from Rs48 billion to Rs78 billion during the last two years,” he said, and added, “We are also working on setting up universities campuses in various districts. The knowledge corridor between Pakistan and the United States will produce 10,000 PhD scholars during the next 10 years,” he added.