LAHORE  - Federal Minister for Interior and Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal has said China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be proved as game changer for the economic progress of Pakistan as well as the region.  

He expressed these views while addressing a ceremony in the city on Saturday. He said in first phase of CPEC, energy and physical infrastructure will be developed by 2020 in the country. The minister was of the view that CPEC will be completed in three phases till 2030. 

The minister said CPEC was a real game-changer as now the investors from Europe, Middle East and other countries of the world were showing interest in investing in Pakistan, adding that political stability was needed to achieve the real objectives of CPEC project. 

Minister said government is taking concrete measures to overcome energy crisis and to improve infrastructure. He said out of 46 billion dollars of CPEC, 35 billion dollars were to be invested on improving Pakistan’s power sector. 

He said that Pakistan did not invest even a single penny on CPEC as all investment is being made by China. 

Ahsan Iqbal said foreign investors will start business in Pakistan which is proof of positive impact of CPEC on economy. 

He said a new middle class market is emerging in Pakistan as country will achieve the GDP target of 6 percent. 

The minister said that Pakistan will grow now but we would have to work hard. He, while signaling towards PTI, said that sit-ins would never change the fate of the country and long march would only be for development of the country. He said that 22 hours loadshedding of electricity has been minimised. Ahsan was of the view that Afghanistan will overtake Pakistan in next 10 to 15 years since there Hamid Karzai completed and his tenure and now Ashraf Ghani was also going to complete his term. But unfortunately in Pakistan political governments were not allowed to complete their terms. The minister claimed that NAB was targeting a political party in the country. 

To a question about former president Pervez Musharraf, he said he was not coming into Pakistan on the pretext of security reasons. He said that Musharraf should come to Pakistan and face courts, adding that he would be provided full security. 

Ahsan Iqbal said the PML-N government had put the country on the road to progress and prosperity after overcoming the power outages. He said people trusted the PML-N and voted it to power in order to bring development in the country. 

He said it was important to learn lessons from successes of China, as it did not let anyone to compromise its political stability. He said the youth was biggest asset of Pakistan, and the government had put in place special arrangements to provide them employment, adding that millions of jobs would be created owing to CPEC project, which would enable them to exhibit their skills in their respective fields. 

CPEC would not only promote government-to-government and business-to-business cooperation, but also help strengthen people-to-people linkages, as it was a long-term project initiated for betterment of people, he maintained. 

Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan had rapidly emerged as one of top growing economies in the world in the recent years and the world was admitting it, adding that the international media, which had been portraying Pakistan as a safe haven for terrorism, was now calling it a rising economy due to Chinese investment. 

He said the coal deposits in Thar were equal to the oil stocks of Saudi Arabia and Iran. "We have wasted 70 years to tap coal but now because of CPEC, coal stocks are being exhausted to cater to the needs," he said. 

The Gwadar Port would help achieve the target through trade with Central Asia Republics and other regions, he added. 

He said the country witnessed only three per cent growth rate from 2008 to 2013, adding that the growth rate significantly improved since the PML-N government came into power. 

He said the people had to face loadshedding of 18 to 20 hours in 2013, but now the situation had completely changed as the government had given topmost priority to energy sector and overcome energy crisis by putting in day and night efforts. 

The minister said some elements were spreading wrong information and misconceptions about CPEC and trying to mislead people about the project, adding that the Corridor was not an ordinary project as it would pave the way to progress and prosperity of the country. 

"We should be grateful to the people and government of China who stood with us during difficult times when even Pakistani investors were reluctant to invest in the country," he said and added now the international community had started looking at Pakistan as a hub of billions of dollars of Chinese investment.