Islamabad - Pakistan is set to become one of the top 25 economies of the world with the execution of $45 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), to be launched by the Chinese President during his forthcoming visit, said Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal here Wednesday.

“We have targeted to improve the country’s economic growth to around eight per cent from current 4.5 per cent, making Pakistan a hub of geo-economic, trade and investment destination,” the minister added during a panel interview to APP.

The economic corridor was practical manifestation of government’s economic agenda envisaged in Vision 2025 for country’s economic stability and infrastructure uplift as the project is aimed at enhancing regional connectivity.

Ahsan pointed out that the project was not against any country rather it would herald new economic opportunities in the region particularly South Asia, Central Asia, China and the Middle East.

Ahsan Iqbal further stated that China is carrying out massive development activities in its western belt and the economic corridor would ensure the shortest trade route between Gwadar and Khun rab. He said that the multi-billion dollar project would not meet success without peace and stability. To a question, he said, the government had launched comprehensive military operation against terrorism and extremism to provide secure ambience to the investors.

The minister said, “Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has already directed Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif to raise a special force to provide security cover exclusively to the Chinese workforce working in Pakistan.”

“The Chinese workers would be nation’s guests. We should host them without letting them feel any insecurity,” he remarked strongly negating the negative propaganda by opposition parties against the economic corridor project.

He said that under $45 billion project, China would invest $34 billion in energy sector in Independent Power Producer (IPP) mode and the rest $11 billion would be soft-term concession loan that would be used for infrastructure development including Gwadar Port, Karakorum Highway and construction of Multan Sukkur Motorway. The minister said that some political parties were propagating against the economic corridor project out of hatred against the incumbent government.

“What impression they will give to China. They are trying to sabotage the Chinese investment. We must be thankful to China for investing here despite security situation in the country,” he said. He said Sino-Pak ties were exemplary as both the countries supported each other through thick and thin.

He said that China-Pakistan friendship is said to be higher than Himalayas, deeper than the ocean and sweeter than the honey. Ahsan Iqbal said that the decades old political and brotherly ties could not be converted into economic partnership in the past; however this would be made possible through the implementation of economic projects.

He said that with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, the implementation of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project would start. He said after swearing in as Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif had paid first official visit to China and both the countries signed MoU in July 2013 in the presence of both the prime ministers.

Ahsan Iqbal said that during the yearlong efforts by the planning experts from both sides to execute the project, the working groups were formed and the projects including Gwadar Port, energy and motorway were surveyed.

He said that the economic corridor project would create numerous job opportunities for the jobless youths, propel exports, besides improving the country’s industrial, agriculture and construction sectors. The planning minister said that only the strong economies would survive in future. He further said that once the economic corridor project meets success, it would give a strong message to rest of the world and help attract investments from other countries.

“This region including South Asia, Middle East and China collectively house around three billion people and has vast potential for future trade. Pakistan is heart of the region that can only connect it,” he remarked.

He said American and other western companies were already functioning in China and the economic corridor would create opportunities for the whole world.

To another question, the minister said that during the visit of Chinese President, wind and solar power projects would also be kicked off to rid the country of energy crisis.

He regretted that during past 15 years no significant power project was initiated and the transmission line load of 1500 MW was not enhanced.

The government was not only increasing the existing transmission line load but also developing the coal and LNG based power generation for provision of cheap electricity to the people across the country, he added.

Government, he said, was developing Thar coal project for cheap electricity with the help of China, which would open up an era of prosperity for the poverty-stricken people of Thar in Sind province.

He said that year 2015 would be the year of China Pakistan Economic Corridor implementation and after its execution it would become a fate changer for the entire region.