ISLAMABAD: Following completion of the first phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Joint Working Group of China and Pakistan on Infrastructure Development has decided to expedite work on the western route.
A delegation headed by the transport minister of China called on Minister for Communications Murad Saeed and discussed the infrastructure development projects in detail, according to a statement issued by the Press Information Department on Saturday.
The Joint Working Group has signed a memorandum of understanding for transport infrastructure development.
The statement said under the CPEC’s second phase, around 1,270km highways would be constructed and the roads from Gilgit to Chitral, Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob, Peshawar-Dera Ismail Khan and Swat Expressway Phase-II would also be developed.
The Chinese delegation appreciated the performance of the ministry of communications for timely completion of the first phase projects.
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi has announced that the government has granted tax exemption to the China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC) for 23 years to facilitate establishment of its industrial units at Gwadar Port.
Accompanied by COPHC Chief Executive Officer Zhang Baozhong and Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Mr Zaidi told a press conference on Tuesday that the COPHC that had already been operating at Gwadar Port would get tax exemption for installation of machinery and other equipment at the port.
The initiative was a step towards relocation of the Chinese manufacturing industry in Gwadar and engaging the local labour, he said, adding that the move would ultimately boost Pakistan’s economy.
The minister said the COPHC would also set up a desalination plant with the cost of Rs1.95 billion to provide 5,000 gallons of water per day to the people.
He announced that China would build Pak-China Technical and Vocational Training Institute in Gwadar at a cost of around $10 million, which would open job opportunities for locals. “About 360 students equipped with technical skills would pass out from the institute every year,” he said.
Mr Zaidi said Pak-China Friendship Hospital would also be established on 68-acre land at an estimated cost of $100 million. Besides, he added, a coal power plant for generating 300MW electricity would also be set up in Gwadar.
On the issue of Gwadar Port’s connectivity with Makran Coastal Highway, he said the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) had approved construction of three bridges on the Eastbay Expressway to resolve the grievances of local fisherman.
Around 40 per cent construction work on the Eastbay Expressway had been completed while the rest would be completed by December 2020, he added.
COPHC CEO Zhang Baozhong said the present government had resolved the tax exemption issue that had been pending for the past seven years. He expressed the hope that due to the business-friendly policies of the government, more foreign investment would come to the country.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who arrived in China on Tuesday morning, while addressing an event in Beijing said that he wished he could follow the example of Chinese President Xi Jinping and send 500 corrupt individuals in Pakistan to jail.
Speaking at the China Council for Promotion of International Trade, the premier said that one thing he had learned from China was how the country's leadership tackled corruption.
"One of President Xi Jinping's biggest crusade has been against corruption," he said, adding that he had heard that some 400 "ministerial-level people" had been convicted on charges of corruption and put behind jail in the last five years in China.
Imran was referring to Xi's ferocious anti-corruption drive launched in 2012 that reportedly netted more than 1.3 million officials at various levels, from the elite to the ordinary.
"I wish I could follow President Xi's example and put 500 corrupt people in Pakistan in jail," remarked the premier, saying unfortunately processing [cases] in Pakistan was "very cumbersome".
He counted corruption as one of the biggest impediments to investment in a country.
Prime Minister Imran said that the most important thing that Pakistan could learn from China was the way it lifted people out of poverty.
"What inspires me most about China is the way they have lifted 700 million people out of poverty in 30 years," he said. "This has never happened in human history."
The premier said that since his government had come to power, it had taken a conscious decision to make it easier for investors to come to Pakistan.
"We will want them to make profits in Pakistan.
"The Prime Minister's Office is driving opportunities for people to invest in our country. The ease of doing business is driven from the Prime Minister's Office. We have just formed a CPEC Authority because we were having problems in CPEC projects because they were under a lot of different ministries.
"We have now decided that there will be one authority which will resolve all the problems of CPEC, and that authority will be the Prime Minister's Office, so that my office can make it easier for people investing in Pakistan."
The premier recounted various steps that Pakistan had taken including the completion of phase one of the Gwadar Free Zone.
He said that there were various reasons for people to invest in Pakistan including its strategic location, its young population and the economic revival taking place in the country — particularly the strides made in the ease of doing business as well as the industrial clusters through special economic zones (SEZs).
Prime Minister Imran named the sectors Pakistan wanted Chinese investment in: textile, manufacturing, IT and financial services, physical and technological logistics, tourism and hospitality, food processing and agriculture, housing as well as in oil and gas.
The premier emphasised that now was the time to invest in Pakistan.
"The Prime Minister's Office will dealing with the major investors in our country and CPEC will be dealt again from the Prime Minister's Office.
"It's an exciting time in Pakistan because as we open up our country for business, it is a great opportunity for people to come and invest, and as we change the mindset in Pakistan, we want businesses to come and make money."
Later, the premier arrived at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing where his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang received him.
According to Radio Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran was presented a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent at the official welcome ceremony where the national anthems for both China and Pakistan were played.
The Chinese premier was also introduced to members of the Pakistani delegation.
Earlier, China Gezhouba Group Chairman Lyu Zexiang, among other businessmen, called on the premier.
As per an FO press release, the China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) — one of the most competitive listed companies with very strong financing capabilities in China — showed keen interest in exploring new business avenues in Pakistan particularly in the energy sector.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Khusro Bakhtiar, Chairman Board of Investment Zubair Gillani, Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Adviser to Prime Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industries, Production and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar were present in the meeting.
Later in the day, Foreign Minister Qureshi while talking to media said that Pakistan is trying to further cement bilateral relations with China.
Talking about the interaction with the Chinese business community, the minister said that the Pakistani delegation apprised them about the measures taken for the security of foreigners. He said that the Chinese were informed that Pakistan has raised a special division for their security.
Qureshi noted that the CPEC Authority has also been established to facilitate projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
"We have also talked about incentives for Chinese businessmen in Pakistan," he said.
He added that Islamabad wants to bring a balance in bilateral trade between the two countries. He expressed the hope that economic connectivity between the two countries will facilitate the region, particularly its land locked countries.
Prime Minister Imran arrived in Beijing on Tuesday morning. According to a Foreign Office (FO) press release, the premier was received by China's culture minister Luo Shugang, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing and Pakistan's ambassador to China Naghmana Hashmi.
Upon his arrival, the prime minister was presented with the Tri Services Static Guard by a smartly turned out contingent.
On Monday, PM office said during his October 8-9 visit to China, Prime Minister Imran would meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing to discuss the security situation in the disputed region of Kashmir as well as economic ties.
"The visit will be instrumental in further cementing Pakistan’s economic, investment and strategic ties with China," PM Office said in a statement.
Ahead of the premier's departure, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in China on an official visit, the military's media wing said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will head to China on Monday for an official visit in order to discuss issues of regional and bilateral importance with the Chinese leadership, Radio Pakistan reported.
He will meet separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
According to the report, the premier will discuss expansion of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and cooperation in the agriculture, industrial and socio-economic sectors.
Last week, Prime Minister Imran said that the removal of all bottlenecks in CPEC projects and their timely completion was the top priority of the government.
Amid a perceived slowdown on CPEC, the federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar on Sunday said Pakistan would engage China at the highest level for talks on several big projects in the fields of hydropower, oil refinery and steel mills.
During the premier's visit, the two sides will discuss the "immediate implementation" of the second phase of the China-Pakistan free trade agreement (FTA). They will also discuss the abolition of the quota for all Pakistani agro products, Radio Pakistan added.
The prime minister is also expected to address the China Pakistan Business Forum in Beijing and to meet with Chinese entrepreneurs as well as the heads of different companies, Radio Pakistan reported.
This is the premier's third visit to China in less than a year.
ISLAMABAD: The Aviation Division has directed 18 international airlines to stop use of plastic cutlery in flights to Pakistan.
The airlines are also directed to ensure that the cutlery is packed in paper rather than in plastic or polythene bags.
The information was shared by Aviation Division senior joint secretary Amjad Sattar Khokhar with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Monday.
Both were present at the committee room of Parliament House where a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change was scheduled at 11am. But the meeting was delayed as committee chairperson Sitara Ayaz and other parliamentarians could not arrive on time. Media personnel were also present in the committee room.
“We have given directives to airlines that they cannot use plastic cutlery in the flights as we want to stop the use of plastic. Moreover, it is observed that the cutlery is packed in plastic sacks so we have also directed them to ensure that the cutlery should be wrapped in paper rather than in polythene,” Mr Khokhar said.
China Southern Airlines wants to know under which law should it follow the directive
“Also, we have decided to place standees with messages in this regard at airports so that passengers coming from abroad come to know that the use of plastic bags is banned in Pakistan,” he said.
Mr Aslam appreciated the step and said such messages can also be advertised on electronic boards placed near airports.
“I was travelling to a country [he said without mentioning the name of the country] and at the time of entry I was told that there would be a $200 fine for the use of plastic bags,” he said.
Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Mr Khokhar said that a written directive was sent to the airlines a few months back and after that reminders were also sent to them to ensure implementation.
“Only China Southern Airlines has asked from us that under which law should it stop the use of plastic cutlery and we have given them a reply. Other airlines have not asked about it which means they have no objection to it. We hope that the decision of the Aviation Division would be implemented shortly,” he said.
“We are also concerned about climate change and that is why we have planted over 50,000 saplings around airports,” Mr Khokhar said.
A new regulation under the Environmental Protection Act 1997, proposing a ban on polythene bags in the federal capital, was introduced in June this year and Aug 14 was the cut-off date.
The regulation is called “Pak-EPA Ban on (Manufacturing, Import, Sale, Purchase, Storage and Usage) Polythene Bags Regulations, 2019” and extended to the Islamabad Capital Territory. Later, other provinces also started following the federal capital and are in the process of banning the use of plastic bags.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2019
THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Wednesday attended an event hosted by Prince Karim Aga Khan at the Aga Khan Centre in Kings Cross, where they engaged with members of the Pakistani community ahead of their official visit to Pakistan from Oct 14 to 18.
Prince Karim received the royal couple at the entrance to the venue, where they were seen exchanging pleasantries and talking about the upcoming visit to Pakistan. At the end of the event, the couple was accompanied by the Aga Khan as well as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK, Nafees Zakaria.
Kate Middleton was wearing a deep green dress, with earrings by a Pakistani clothing and accessories designer Zeen.
The Aga Khan Centre boasts a collection of gardens, courtyards and terraces, which provide an insight into the diversity and influence of Islamic landscape design around the world and through history.
“This is an opportunity for their highnesses to come to the Aga Khan Centre, which is an important building here in London,” said Mahmood Ahmed, chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the UK. “This building promotes the notions of pluralism and also represents our network which does a lot of work in the developing world.”
“We have a special relationship with Pakistan, but because of their royal highnesses’ upcoming visit there, we decided to invite them here so they could meet the Pakistani diaspora and people from different walks of life based here in the UK,” he said, adding that the guests included people from Pakistan who had made their homes here and excelled.
“It introduces them [Kate and William] to Pakistan. It gives them an opportunity to talk a little bit to people from there and to get a flavour of where they are going.”
British-Pakistani businessman Aneel Mussarat, who was invited by the Pakistan mission, said it was a good event.
Organisers said the event was held especially to showcase Pakistani culture and heritage to the royal couple and was attended by prominent members from the fields of arts and culture, business, community development, entertainment, and music from the UK and Pakistan. Members of the diplomatic community, including Mr Zakaria and the High Commissioner of the UK Thomas Drew CBE, also attended the event.
The Aga Khan is the founder and chairman of the AKDN, a group of development agencies which works to improve the living conditions of people in Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East. The network is active in over 30 countries, including Pakistan, and is involved in initiatives ranging from education, health, economic development to culture.
British-Pakistani chef Saliha Mahmood Ahmed, who won Master Chef 2017, later posted on Twitter, saying: “An absolute career highlight! Meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, prior to their tour of Pakistan! Was able to design a Pakistani themed lunch menu.”
Kensington Palace, the official Twitter account for the royal couple, tweeted saying they met a range of British Pakistanis including DJ and Producer Naughty Boy, table virtuoso Shahbaz Hussain, flute maestro Muhammad Noman and musician Maha Malik.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will pay an official visit to China on Oct 7-8 with the main agenda of ‘revival’ of stalled China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
“Removal of all bottlenecks in CPEC projects and their timely completion is the top priority of the government,” the prime minister reiterated while chairing a meeting on the economic corridor on Wednesday. He said he would soon visit China and meet its leadership to strengthen friendship between the two countries.
It has been learnt that most of CPEC-related projects have stalled due to certain reasons, including prevailing financial crunch confronting the government and ‘non-cooperation’ of the bureaucracy due to ‘fear of the National Accountability Bureau’.
Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar apprised the meeting about CPEC-related projects and the progress so far made on it.
Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed briefed the meeting on Main Line-1 (ML-1) projects being executed to lay a new railway track from Karachi to Peshawar under the umbrella of the CPEC.
Speaking at a prize distribution ceremony for seminary students, Imran says uniform curriculum to be introduced by March next year
Addressing a prize distribution ceremony for madressah students who had performed distinctively in the examinations of contemporary education boards and seminaries, the PM said the government’s plan to introduce uniform curriculum in the country would be implemented by March next year so that all graduates could have equal opportunities to grow in their practical life.
“The graduates of the new education system will have understanding of religion, contemporary knowledge and science and technology.”
He said the government planned to synchronise the entire education system to create social harmony in the country, adding that reforms were being introduced in the education system which would help uplift the lower section of the society with the provision of equal opportunities to progress.
Highlighting the plight of the Kashmiris, the PM said eight million people had been locked in an open jail that Occupied Kashmir had become for two months.
At present, Prime Minister Khan said, three education systems were in vogue in Pakistan, which was leading to injustices and divisions in the society. “The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had decided in its early days that the students of seminaries will be imparted contemporary modern education so that they too can get important positions in different professions,” he added.
Underlining importance of education, the prime minister said Islam laid special emphasis on education and that the “Muslims had ruled the world for 700 years not because of sword but education”. “Muslims are weak today mainly due to lack of education,” he deplored.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said a uniform curriculum was being prepared for government-run and private schools as well as madressahs.
He said measures were also being taken to ensure that students of seminaries took examinations of contemporary education boards, and this process would hopefully be completed in three to four years.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2019