RAWALPINDI - With full backing of the nation, Pakistan is making steady, but sure-footed progress in making the country terrorism-free country, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa said here on Wednesday.

Addressing a seminar on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the COAS said Pakistan is much safer than before. Peace has been restored in Fata and adjoining areas.

“Normalcy is returning to Pakistan’s economic hub of Karachi where business community and common people have started to benefit from it,” he said. Similarly, law and order situation in Balochistan has improved significantly and there is a much bigger focus on socio-economic development in the province, he added.

“Let me assure that the army and law-enforcement agencies are vigilant and determined to provide foolproof security to the CPEC. No one should have any doubt about our commitment to the project,” the COAS said. “We will make CPEC a success, Insha’Allah, come what may,” he said.

He said Pakistan is fortunate to have Chinese brothers on her side to assist in surmounting the gigantic challenges facing the CPEC.

Pakistan is a resilient nation of over 200 million people with a large ratio of vibrant, capable and enthusiastic youth. “We need to capitalise this opportunity to make Pakistan an economic power in coming years. I want our entrepreneurs to join hands with our Chinese brothers and make this dream a reality. My dream is that by the year 2030, when we complete the current phase of economic partnership between the two countries, Pakistan should be among middle-income countries,” he stated.

The COAS said, “We take immense pride in our relationship with China that has always remained on an ascending trajectory and now encompasses almost every sphere of our life. The lasting imprint of this brotherly partnership is visible in state-to-state, military-to-military, business-to-business and people-to-people contacts.”

“Pak-China relationship is based on the principles of peaceful co-existence, commonality of interests and shared perception on regional and global issues. We have always stood by each other through thick and thin and at every critical juncture of our history. That is why we are called as iron brothers.”

He said Chinese President Xi Jinping’s grand vision of One Belt One Road (OBOR) has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for the countries of the region and beyond. The CPEC, being an important project of OBOR, holds great promise for turning around the economies of Pakistan, Western China and the region. “That is why we consider it as a game changer.”

The COAS said the CPEC is also affirmation of our efforts for a peaceful and prosperous region. “Unlike some countries of South Asia, we believe in focusing our energies on peace and inclusiveness. The CPEC is a great initiative for people of the region, particularly the people of Pakistan.”

“It is truly a harbinger of economic development, prosperity and peace. Chinese investment in various fields, including energy, infrastructure, Gwadar port and special economic zones, could lay the foundation of a fast developing, progressive Pakistan, if the opportunity is optimally utilised.”

He said the nation can only benefit from this historic opportunity if we prepare ourselves to embrace it. All national institutions will have to make a deliberate effort to ensure success of the CPEC. To begin with, we need education, training and skill development of our youth to enable them to reap benefits from this economic initiative.

He pointed out the need to improve the existing laws and regulations to provide a facilitating framework for trade and investment activities. Infrastructure and urban planning are need of the hour to ensure that the country can handle large volume of business and transport without any hassle.

The CPEC will bring increasing economic integration between the regional economies on the one hand and reduce the development gap within various regions of Pakistan on the other, he said. This will, however, require transformation of trade corridors into economic corridors with the help of industrial and urban development, under a unified development framework.

“We must ensure that the people of Pakistan benefit from the CPEC to enjoy the fruits of prosperity. This will require leadership, collaborative spirit and capacity building at a much higher pace and level. While Pak Army will provide security to the project, the other national institutions will have to come forward and play their respective roles,” he said.

The COAS said further such forums and debates should be organized for successful operationalisation of the CPEC. In the context, he said this effort will go a long way in devising viable, practical and futuristic strategies for successful actualisation of the CPEC and its dividends for the entire nation.

He specially thanked the Chinese guests who had travelled all the way to attend this forum organised by the National Logistics Cell (NLC).