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CPEC to usher in new era of economic relationship, reduce political tension in region: Asif

BEIJING: Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif Thursday said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a game changer for not only Pakistan but for the whole region as it will usher in a new era of economic relationship between different countries of the region and help reduce the political tension.

“At present there is hardly any trade between the countries in the region but once the CPEC, a pilot project of Belt and Road Initiative is completed, it will provide economic and trade connectivity to all the countries in the region,” he said while speaking in a programme “Heat” telecast by China Global Television Network (CGTN).

He opined that economic relationship between different countries of this region will have political affects and will help lessen the political tension because of their inter-dependence.

“The trade, tourism and people to people contacts will soften the tense situation in the region,” he maintained.

The foreign minister said a lot of investment, industries is coming in Pakistan under the CPEC framework and it will get connected with other countries to the CPEC and Gawadar port.

To a question, he explained that investment being made under CPEC is not a debt rather it is an income based or tariff based arrangement, adding, “Our economy is picking up and the country has enough inflow of cash to make the payments.”

When asked about his recent meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, he said there was complete convergence of views between the two sides.

“We are hoping a meeting between foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan in China in December and we are also hoping to revive other platforms to find out a political solution to the Afghan problem,” he added.

He said both the countries have a unanimous view that a military solution to Afghan issue will create more problems as it did not pay off over the years.

To yet another question, he said the US is part of different mechanisms or platforms available to deal with Afghan problem, adding, “The US is part and parcel of the arrangements for solution to Afghan problem. The US role will be there.”

Khawaja Asif said the prime minister on the sidelines of UN General Assembly met with the US President and the Vice President and both the meeting were good.

Calling the “safe havens” as exaggeration, he explained that more than 40 percent area of Afghanistan is under physical control of Afghan Taliban, “then why, they will need our area. It is not logical.”

To a question about military reimbursement from USA, he said, the US authorities have been making payments to Pakistan for the logistic support, adding, “We have done a lot for free also as our space and infrastructure was used free of cost.”

“We have very serious commitments to peace in Afghanistan as it hurts Pakistan, our economy and our common life,” he added.

When asked as to why Pakistan urges the UN to appoint an envoy over Kashmir, he said, it is a legitimate demand having a lot of precedents in the past. It will help find out what is really going on in occupied Kashmir.

He said that killing, maiming and blinding of Kashmiri youth is going on for the last many years particularly during last 14 months which is unbearable for the people of Kashmir.

This brutal treatment has been raised in media and international forums by different human rights organizations, he added.

He said there are 66 terrorist organizations operating and more than a dozen separatist movements going on in India but they always blame us at international forums just to divert world’s attention from the situation in occupied Kashmir.

About chances of a diplomatic solution, he said both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers and only way forward is that we should approach each other with sincerity.

To a question about any mediation from a third party, he said that Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) being a regional organization can play a role as both the countries are its members.

He said that China is neighbor of Pakistan and India and there are substantial trade relations between China and India. We will welcome if China plays any role to reduce tension between India and Pakistan.

“Once we start talking, other thing will fall in place automatically,” he commented.

About Pak-China economic and strategic relationship, he said, both the countries have also great military and defense cooperation, adding this relationship is spanned over six decades.

Responding to a question as to how President Xi Jinping’s leadership has further fortified Sino-Pak relationship, he said the relationship between the two countries has gone to the new heights under his leadership.

“President Xi has added a new dimension to relationship between two countries. Our relationship is embedded in the history and it is a reliable and all weather relationship,” he concluded. NNI

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