ISLAMABAD - Terming CPEC an expression of a new concept of diplomacy based on shared goals of prosperity Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the project would help eliminate poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment not only from Pakistan but from whole region.

Addressing the inaugural session of the two-day China Pakistan Economic Corridor Summit and Expo yesterday, termed CPEC the “most important initiative of 21st century” and added it perfectly complimented Pakistan’s vision 2025.

The primer said the mega project would not only serve as a ‘game-changer’ for Pakistan, but also a ‘fate-changer’ for entire region by helping it rid of economic deprivation and attain peace and prosperity.

The prime minister said the project would usher in prosperity in the region comprising 3 billion of the world’s population, almost half of the world adding that the CPEC was not merely a strategic agreement between Pakistan and China, but successful completion of their 65 years of friendship.

He urged upon the Pakistani and Chinese nations to interact with each other as “friends and brothers” to make their economies stronger. “By working together, we can bring peace and stability in the region through economic development of our people,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif said the two sides always supported each other in times of distress and recalled Chinese assistance to Pakistan following the devastating earthquake in 2005 and floods in 2010.

He said Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Pakistan in 2014, told the parliament that Pakistan stood by China when it was isolated.

Now, China has reached out to Pakistan when it stands economically isolated, Nawaz Sharif recalled the statement of President Xi.

The PM termed the relationship between the two countries as “very special” and said the two had always supported each other at international fora, with a spirit based on trust and honesty.

Premier Sharif said Pakistan was an emerging economy with rich natural resources. He mentioned the highest GDP in last eight years, with best performing stock market, doubling of the foreign exchange reserves and improved security environment.

He said the economic value of the project was US 46 billion dollars, however added that the real impact was many times more and would have a longer lasting effect.

The PM said the project would not only improve Pakistan’s own infrastructure but would also provide it the much needed know-how, knowledge and expertise in new technologies.

He said CPEC would not only create a strong overland link between Pakistan and China but also provide an opportunity to strengthen Pakistan’s own inland transportation and logistics infrastructure.

More than 10 billion dollars would be spent on railway projects as well as rail infrastructure in Pakistan, Sharif said.

He said 35 billion dollars would be invested in energy sectors alone to produce 10,400MW of electricity.

The prime minister said the project would benefit all regions of Pakistan and equally benefit Gilgit Baltistan, remote areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

He described development of Gwadar as the “jewel project” of the entire CPEC, with its own power generation, road, rail and air-links and would serve as a model smart port city. “Our vision of development is based on inclusive approach for region’s harmony,” he said.

Nawaz Sharif mentioned that China would also construct a highway with a cost of 162 million dollars to connect with the Gwadar airport to be built with 230 million dollar, by December 2017.

The event was attended by AJK President Raja Farooq Haider, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and special Assistant Tariq Fatemi, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, GB CM Hafiz Hafeezullah, Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong, Pakistan’s ambassador to China Masood Khalid, Balochistan Assembly Speaker Raheela Durrani, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Abdur Rauf Alam, parliamentarians and leading industrialists.

The Summit held here at the Pakistan China Friendship Centre was hosted by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform and marked the third anniversary of Joint Coordination Committee on CPEC.