Pakistan’s Ambassador Envisions Modern Gwadar Port

Disproves ‘Debt Trap’ Conspiracy Theory

BEIJING, August 14 (APP): Pakistan Ambassador to China, Moin ul Haque said on Friday that investing in hydro projects is central to the Government of Pakistan’s vision for sustainable growth and socioeconomic development.

Pakistan has a large population and a major agricultural economic base, and these dams are vital for better management of Pakistan’s water resources. “Given the uncertainties posed by climate change, these projects are also significant for our national security”, he said in an interview with Global Times on the occasion of the Independence Day of Pakistan.

On the economic side, these projects would also contribute to job creation, skill development and transfer of technology. Their hydroelectric component would help instigate climate change efforts, lower the overall cost of electricity thus enhancing Pakistan’s overall economic competitiveness, he added. Ambassador Moin ul Haque remarked that Pakistan and China have a long history of cooperation in the hydro sector, and expressed his happiness to see the Chinese friends in the vanguard for these projects as well.

“So, the benefits of the hydro projects are quite evident and debunk the so-called “debt-trap” conspiracy theories”, he added.

He said that China and Pakistan are iron brothers and all-weather strategic partners and added, “For the last 70 years, our relationship has been carefully nurtured by the successive governments and the peoples of the two countries. It has stood the test of time. No schemes of our adversaries could impact this historic and close relationship. Let there be no doubt about this.”

Elaborating more about bilateral cooperation in agriculture and training on locust control, he said that both countries have maintained a very strong cooperation in the field of agriculture. There are a number of established bilateral cooperation mechanisms that carry out practical cooperation in various fields such as capacity-building, technical cooperation, policy exchange and information sharing. He said both sides have also signed a number of MoUs and agreements on agricultural cooperation. Moreover, there are growing linkages between the agricultural research institutions of the two countries as well. All these measures have significantly contributed to enhancing Pakistan’s food security.

To a question about the development of Gwadar Port, he said, it is a “crown jewel” of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It is also a major node outside China where the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road converge. Over the past two decades, and especially since CPEC’s advent in 2013, Gwadar has been transformed from a remote fishing town into a fully functional port with modern infrastructure.

A number of projects are underway to further enhance Gwadar’s business environment and competitive edge as a hub of regional commerce, industry and logistics. These include the East-Bay Expressway, as well as a new international airport and power plant, among others.

In recent months, the port’s operations have continued to increase steadily, and it has been also cleared as an entrepôt for transshipment to Afghanistan. This continued development has been made possible by the consensus of both countries’ leaders to take Gwadar as a priority area of our cooperation, address development gaps, and create better lives and livelihoods for the local people. Chinese enterprises and their Pakistani partners have made enormous efforts, and we are encouraged to see Gwadar develop into a major regional port, he added.

To a question about management of debt in future, he said borrowing is done by all the countries of the world to meet their economic and development needs. Pakistan is no exception. Pakistan’s national debt should also be seen in the context of the unprecedented and unique security and economic challenges that the country had to face in the last few decades. Our policymakers thus had to balance between essential security requirements and pressing socioeconomic needs, he added.

Ambassador Moin ul Haque said that fully aware of the adverse impacts of a large national debt, Pakistan’s government has made necessary adjustments to its fiscal and monetary policy aimed at reducing current account deficit, increasing revenue generation, addressing trade imbalances and encouraging investments.

In the wake of the unprecedented health and economic challenges posed by COVID-19, the Prime Minister of Pakistan had appealed for a global initiative on debt relief, which aims to lay the ground for debt relief to the developing countries without onerous conditions. Such an initiative would enhance the fiscal space available to the developing countries including Pakistan.

“The socioeconomic dividends of CPEC and its direct impact on improving people’s livelihoods would also help in reducing our reliance on domestic and external borrowing”, he added.

On bilateral cooperation in youth education and development between the two countries, he remarked that for a brighter and stronger bilateral relationship in the future, the younger generation has an important role to play.

“The youth on both sides are very aware of the close relationship between our two countries and are increasingly benefiting from the strengths of each other’s educational institutions and expertise”, he added.

Giving examples, he said that for instance, around 28,000 Pakistani students are studying in Chinese universities and pointed out that an increasing number of Chinese students are now enrolled in top Pakistani universities in various disciplines while many of them follow courses at several Pakistan Study Centres as well as Urdu language departments all across China. On the same lines, students in Pakistan are fully utilising the opportunities provided by the Confucius Institutes and Chinese language departments in Pakistan.

There are also exchange programs for youth of the both sides that include visits of youth delegations from Pakistan to China and China to Pakistan every year on alternative basis, he concluded.

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