QUETTA - Pakistan and China on Monday jointly organised the first international exhibition to showcase the significance of the Gwadar Port and its economic free zone as an emerging global business hub.

The exhibition, jointly arranged by Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) and China Overseas Port Holding, was attended by foreign diplomats, entrepreneurs and over 5,000 business representatives from all over the world.

More than 200 companies from both Pakistan and China were present at the Gwadar Expo, while six Chinese provinces also sent their representatives, said Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing, while addressing the ceremony. Foreign diplomats and business leaders were also invited to the opening session of the two-day event.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the International Gwadar Expo and preliminary phase of Gwadar Free Zone.

Speaking on the occasion, he said the fundamental objective of organising the Expo was to highlight Gwadar Port and free zone as a trade hub. Expo-2018 would bolster economic cooperation amongst the regional countries, he affirmed.

“It is an honour for me to inaugurate Gwadar Free Zone and Rescue Conference,” said Abbasi.

Abbasi said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was the vision of the Chinese president and Nawaz Sharif. Terming it the most remarkable initiative of the present generation, the premier said, “The One Belt-One Road initiative is a big gift of the Chinese president for Pakistan and its present and future generations.”

He added the CPEC was a game-changer project not only for Pakistan but also for the whole region and would pave the way for communication with Central Asia.

Abbasi termed the free zone a mandatory part of Gwadar Port and added functionalisation of any port sans this facility was impracticable. He went on to say that the Gwadar project would develop Balochistan and create numerous job opportunities. “The future of Balochistan depends upon the provincial leadership and they would have to flex their muscles to counter the prevailing challenges,” the premier said. He urged the Balochistan government to plan the development of the coastal areas, adding the federal government would assist the province in this respect.

The prime minister, mentioning the package announced by him three months ago, said funds would be released in the current year to each district of Balochistan. He reiterated the PML-N government would provide every possible support to the provincial government.

He maintained China had launched many power projects and special focus was being laid on an end to environmental pollution.

Lauding both unmatched exertion of the two countries’ engineers, the prime minister said it was due to their efforts that today Gwadar and CPEC had become a reality.

On the coming general polls, Abbasi made it clear that they would be held in July and hoped PML-N would form the next government.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing also addressed the Expo. “The Gwadar project is an example of deep cooperation between China with Pakistan,” asserted Yao Jing, adding it would be a milestone for Pak-China joint progress.

The envoy said the Expo was so big event that more than 200 companies from Pakistan and China were participating in it. “The main objective of Gwadar Port is to ameliorate the fate of the indigenous population and understand the fact that the first and foremost right on Pakistani resources and water is of Pakistanis,” Yao Jing said.

Yao Jing averred they were encouraging Chinese companies to invest in the ongoing CPEC projects in Pakistan and thanked Islamabad for providing facilities for them.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, speaking at the event, said Gwadar Port would revolutionise not only Balochistan but also the whole Pakistan and region.

Pakistan and China had made the CPEC project practicable and connected such areas which had no communication facilities, Ahsan Iqbal added. He asserted Gwadar was occupying a key position in the region and converting the area into a massive trade centre. “CPEC is turning into an economic power in the region,” averred the interior minister, adding the game-changer project would help connect Balochistan to all areas of the region, besides countering challenges of poverty, unemployment and backwardness.

Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Hasil Khan Bizenjo, addressing the inaugural ceremony of International Gwadar Expo, said the country’s strength lied in the stability of a democratic setup. He added China was playing a key role in Pakistan’s progress and their friendship was deeper than oceans and higher than mountains.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qadus Bizenjo, speaking on this occasion, termed the CPEC highly important for Balochistan, adding it would ameliorate the fate of the people of the province. He said the provincial government was making efforts to provide and environment conducive to investment while the institutions were working hard to improve law and order situation in the province.

Bizenjo thanked the prime minister and his team for Gwadar visit and also hailed participation of national and international investors in the Expo.

The premier was also accompanied by Federal Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzab, Azad Jammu and Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan and Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai.



Pakistan, China jointly host Gwadar Expo