China has recently hosted the One Belt-One Road (OBOR) summit in Beijing in which participants from various countries attended the summit. China wants to build a sea and road route network in more than a dozen countries of Asia, Middle East, Europe and Africa. It is approximately 1 trillion dollars of investment. Mr Xi Jingping, President of China has said emphatically that countries are open to join, referring to India. China’s One Belt-One Road initiative will integrate various regions for trade. It would boost global trade. CPEC is also a project under the same vision of the Chinese OBOR initiative. The May 14-15 forum was attended by 29 heads of state and government, besides delegates from around 130 countries.

Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif represented Pakistan. Underscoring the importance of OBOR, Mr Sharif stated that OBOR is unfolding across continents, is fostering inclusion, creating tolerance, and promoting acceptance of cultural diversity. He categorically said in his speech that CPEC is an economic undertaking open to all countries in the region. It has no geographical boundaries. It must not be politicised. The Prime Minister called for building a peaceful, connected and caring neighbourhood by shunning mutual differences. “It is time we transcend our differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy, and leave a legacy of peace for future generations,” he further reiterated in his speech.

Pakistan and China also signed six accords of cooperation in diverse fields: The framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiative and agreements on economic and technical cooperation (1.5 billion RMB for Gwadar Airport, among others and 1.1bn RMB for East Bay Expressway). The total worth of the accords is about $500 million. The MoUs add to $57bn already pledged for CPEC. The following deals are among the accords signed by two countries: Two cooperation agreements worth $333m for an airport in Gwadar, the site of a deepwater port that is to provide an outlet to the Arabian Sea from the far western Chinese province of Xinjiang, establishment of the Havelian dry port in Pakistan, agreement on economic and technical cooperation ($160m) for the East Bay Expressway linking Gwadar to Pakistan’s highway network.

During the meeting of the Prime Minister of Pakistan with the Chinese President, the chief ministers of four federating units were also with him. This is a good tradition – the four chief ministers of federating units were also being kept on board on all major negotiations and other developments of bilateral relations between two countries. In a way, it also gives them an opportunity to directly interact with the Chinese leadership with regards to development projects in their respective development programmes. CPEC is a gigantic project and its fruits will be shared with all provinces of Pakistan. CPEC itself enhances the beauty of Pakistan’s federation as its route passes through all federating units. During his meeting with his Chinese counterpart, the Prime Minister mulled over industrial zones under the CPEC project. Under the umbrella of CPEC, China is to develop industrial zones in various areas of Pakistan. On the sidelines, the Pakistani leadership discussed the possible assistance of China in building the Diamer-Bhasha dam.

Projects under China’s vision of OBOR (One Belt-One Road), there would be immense infrastructure development in the countries of its routes. Countries in Asia and Africa would have an opportunity to integrate themselves with the global economy. It would also help in alleviating poverty in these areas especially in Asia and Africa by generating new jobs and creating industrial zones for the people of these areas. It would open new vistas of investments for these countries. The Minister for Planning, Reform and Development, Ahsan Iqbal has recently pointed out that CPEC’s impact on GDP growth would be around 1.5 percent which will create around 1.5 million additional jobs according to some estimates. We need to generate employment for our youth and the need to develop various sectors of our economy and the present government is taking all steps in this regard. The mega projects launched by this government are transparent and are yielding dividends in the form of improvement of the quality of life of the general masses. Infrastructure development is a key indicator of development of a country and this government has not only provided better communication system by constructing road networks in various cities but it has also provided the finest internal communication system for the local commuters in the form of metro bus system. The foreign reserves of Pakistan and the Stock Exchange have touched unprecedented heights in the recent history of Pakistan. All this development, prosperity and progress are basically the vision of Prime Minister, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

It is good that the present government is pursuing its development agenda domestically and internationally. Materialisation of CPEC and other power generation projects with China are a manifestation of this government’s commitment to development of Pakistan. Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has always pursued the policy of peaceful coexistence and that’s why he is ready to welcome any country in CPEC. The times are changing rapidly and presently, politics is driven by economics. This realisation should be the ultimate consideration of countries living on this part of the world.

China, with its sincerity, has provided the opportunity to the world to integrate themselves for their development. China’s vision of regional connectivity is for the economic prosperity and well-being of humanity. Hopefully, the countries situated around China’s OBOR vision can grab this economic opportunity and tread the path of global development.