Islamabad, November 8: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has urged the Asian leaders to make genuine and sincere efforts for their societies and the people to have greater cultural, historical, and ideological understanding of each other.
In his address at the Dialogue on “Strengthening Connectivity Partnership” the Prime Minister appreciated China for taking a remarkable initiative in hosting such event by inviting leaders from Asian countries.
He said the topic was both relevant and important, particularly since, in the present day, Asia was redefining and reinvigorating its role globally.
He told the participants about Pakistan’s desire for infrastructure development and China’s role in helping Pakistan meet its development needs.
“The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, linking China’s West to Pakistan’s Southern port of Gwadar in close proximity to the Middle East, is a flagship project which both governments are pursuing vigorously,” he added.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan views the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as a catalyst for the development of our two countries and for regional economic cooperation, which reflects President Xi Jinping’s vision of building a Silk Road Economic Belt and a Maritime Silk Road.
He further said that they were living in an age of globalization.
“Asia is bursting with amazing opportunities. The growth rates of many Asian economies have been dynamic and resilient, going as high as up to 7.5 percent, despite anemic global recovery in post-2008 Global Financial Crisis,” he added.
The Prime Minister raised a number of related questions arising out of steps to manage such a monumental transformation, creation of economic opportunities for billions of people living in our region, and more importantly, the issues of poverty and wealth inequality.
He viewed solution to all these questions in increasing and enhancing connectivity in the Asian countries.
He emphasized that for the people to absorb the idea of ‘connectivity’, it has to go beyond material goals. It must harmonize with deeper human values while people-to-people connectivity remained as important as material connectivity, if not more.
“Ideas matter more than bricks and mortar,” he added.
The Prime Minister informed that Pakistan’s population was touching nearly 200 million while the stock exchange market did extremely well in the past few years.
“Despite the challenge of terrorism, Pakistan’s economic growth has done quite well. We have a growing middle-class, dynamic and industrious people, good infrastructure and outstanding universities and research centers. My country is blessed with physical resources and occupies an important geographical location,” he added.
He said Pakistan is already looking forward to greater regional connectivity with China and its partners in Central Asia. “Soon, CASA-1000 power project between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan will alleviate our energy shortfall to some extent. The TAPI and Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline projects are also being fast-tracked,” he added.
He said Pakistan’s economic growth has remained steady and the recently unveiled Vision-2025, would provide a solid platform for the revival of sustainable and inclusive growth.
The upgradation of the Karakoram Highway with the help of our Chinese friends is making trade increasingly easier, he added.
The Prime Minister observed that they could create a massive technological and physical infrastructure within the Asian countries.
One way of doing that is through adequate spending on infrastructure, he said, adding “I believe that Asia would need trillions of dollars in infrastructure in the next few decades.”
He stressed that they have to realize that their national budgets alone could not meet the gigantic challenge, requiring a collective vision and leadership to pursue that task.
The Prime Minister also called for creating greater cooperation and convergence to deal with the issues of liquidity, fiscal and monetary challenges, labour mobility, and a variety of challenges.
He said that he would take this opportunity to thank the Chinese leadership for taking the lead in the opening of BRICS Development Bank and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
“Pakistan is proud to be a founding member of AIIB. I am confident that the Bank will provide enough liquidity to developing Asian economies, to help them improve their infrastructure.”