Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR) held a conference on April 2nd, 2019 at the Serena Hotel, Islamabad. 

The Inaugural Session was opened by the Executive Director of IICR Ms. Sabah Aslam, after recitation of Holy Quran.. She highlighted the bond of respect shared by both the states. She mentioned that CPEC is a project which aims not just the economy of Pakistan but the people-people contact between the two great nations of the world. The conference aimed at highlighting what the future holds for both Pakistan and China after CPEC. 

After this, the Keynote Speaker, H.E Mr. Zhao Lijian who is the DCM and Minister Counsellor to the Embassy of China addressed the guests. Beginning with addressing the Chief Guest Senator Rehman, he also congratulated Pakistan on the success of CPEC. He claimed that he will make a few observations and began by reiterating that just like in China, there is a broader national consensus in Pakistan regarding CPEC. He also pointed out that this project began during the era of President Zardari and to this day this plan has been going on. 

Mr. Lijian talked about the long term benefits for people on both sides and the major areas in which CPEC operates i.e. economy, energy and infrastructure. He further elaborated that after the success of the first phase, CPEC is moving towards its second phase. He also highlighted that there is also going to be a major focus on the railway up-gradation that will take around 6 years to complete. 

Further he added that Gwadar holds a special position for CPEC and because of this, currently we are working on the International Gwadar Airport through which an easy trade and export of commodities will be achieved. Pakistan and China together are working on creating international schools and hospitals in Gwadar. 

He also discussed the 9 SEZs plan and Governor KP’s upcoming visit to Second Beijing Summit. Further the impact on CPEC on the Private Companies and Sector will was said to improve. For example the Haier-Ruba joint venture in Lahore has spread out and has extended to $11 million worth of cooperation. Also, more than 100 projects have been launched for socio-economic development. 

He concluded by saying that they are looking for international cooperation in which we will welcome third party cooperation in various energy power plans. 

After his address, the Chief Guest Senator Rehman Malik spoke to the guests. He reiterated the importance of friendship between Pakistan and China by referring to history. The senator added that CPEC is developing the infrastructure in many folds. There had been miscommunications which have been directed by the enemies of Pakistan and CPEC. Pakistan and China and their friendship cannot be broken down so easily and this will stand all the tests of time. 

The second session started after a teabreak and kcomposed of various papers which were presented by the academic circle. 

The first paper was presented byDr. Talat Shabbir (Director, China-Pakistan Study Centre, ISSI) on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: A Futuristic Outlook. It discussed CPEC as a set of projects of bilateral economic framework that generates complimentary advantages of cooperation and connectivity leading to prosperity. Pakistan has an opportunity to build or up-grade infrastructure, address energy shortfalls, commence industrialization and revive economy. Early Harvest phase of CPEC is over and most of the project related to energy and infrastructure are either completed or near completion. Future of CPEC however, essentially depends on how we take up the challenge of building it.  

The second paper was presented by Maj. Gen. ®Raza Muhammad (Chairman, IICR) on the topic of CPEC: A Harbinger of Societal Emancipation for Pakistan and A Way to Regional Peace and Stability. The gist was that CPEC is a harbinger of societal emancipation that is expected to usher a longer lasting, multifaceted socio-economic progression, not only in Pakistan but the Region as well, thereby helping stabilise the Region that is in a volatile state since 1979. It’s a momentous opportunity that China and Pakistan must make best use of for enhanced economic gains to alleviate people’s sufferings. Direly needed socio economic developments can be speedily made by effective implementation of the concept in letter and spirit.

Dr. Nazir Hussain (Director SPIR, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad) presented the third paper on CPEC: A Cost-Benefit Analysis. The paper discussed that BRI and CPEC are aimed at economic transformation and regional connectivity in the wider Asia in general and South Asia/Pakistan in particular. These initiatives are also to usher pipeline, trade and investment corridors in the regional environment creating positive impact.  trade connectivity in trans-regional perspective. Therefore, there is a strong need to look into the CPEC with objectivity and prepare a cost-benefit analysis for a win-win situation for all regional states and key stakeholders.    

Finally, the paper on CPEC: Prospects and Challengeswas presented by Yasir Masood (Deputy Director Media & Publications, Centre of Excellence CPEC). It reiterated that CPEC is a long-term development project of the two all-weather friendly neighbours namely China and Pakistan. The overall aim of CPEC is to become a “Gateway of Prosperity” for both countries, and the region at large by focusing on trade and marketing access; industrial development and global value chains; socio-economic development & poverty alleviation; agriculture modernization & marketing; Gwadar oil city & blue economy; regional connectivity and third-party participation. This will help enhance the livelihood of the people, especially in the deprived regions of both countries.

The session was then followed by a question and answer slot where participants and guest asked valuable questions to the panellists. The conference ended with the concluding remarks form the Maj. Gen. ®Raza Muhammad (Chairman, IICR) and shield distribution ceremony.

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