ISLAMABAD - Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal said that under CPEC project, China does not look at Pakistan as a market but a country with shared destiny and Chinese are helping Pakistan to expedite its development process.

Commenting on the development of the Chabahar by Iran and India, he said that Pakistan is not looking at it as a competition but a development that complements CPEC. He said that CPEC is not just a project of Pakistan but something linking the whole region.

He made these remarks during 32nd AGM and Conference of the PSDE, organised by PIDE (Pakistan Institute of Development Economics). He said that the solutions to the problems should be based on empirical evidence and not on mere judgments. For this to happen, however, the ideas must be discussed in an open environment and the discourse must be free and frank, he added.

Highlighting the importance of CPEC for Pakistan, the minister said that the project is not only a game-changer but it could also be a fate-changer if implemented correctly.

Furthermore, he highlighted the importance of the PSDE/PIDE conferences and said that key messages from the last year’s conference were discussed in the Planning Commission.

The minister said, “10 years ago, the world was looking at us because of the security situation but now every government and think-tanks are looking for opportunities they can have through CPEC with everyone expressing the desire to join CPEC.” Giving the examples of giants like Blackberry and Nokia who lost their places as global leaders, he said, “We must adapt to the changing conditions around the world or else we would be left behind.”

He said that CPEC is not just about transportation, infrastructure and energy projects. It is a framework that is much broader, holistic, and looks at all the socioeconomic factors of development.

Infrastructure and energy are important as they are the current bottlenecks for development. In the last sixty-six years, 16 to 17 thousand megawatts of energy was added to the system but the coming three years would see a record addition of 11,000MW increase in power production. It is the biggest ever investment in the energy sector in Pakistan.

He said that it was the SME sector that paid the price of energy shortages as the large sector had alternatives. “Through CPEC, we are also removing transport and infrastructural bottlenecks,” he added.