China's economic assistance applauded

2024-04-03 08:23:55China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Focus will be on high-quality BRI with better returns, former Pakistan PM says

Former Pakistani prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi stressed the importance of building a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future, as he condemned a terror attack that killed some Chinese workers in his country last week.

Describing the March 26 attack that claimed the lives of five Chinese workers in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province as a very sad and unfortunate incident, Abbasi denounced the attack and said his country is committed to protecting Chinese nationals working in the country.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday visited the Dasu Hydropower Project's camp to console the Chinese personnel at the project. Sharif expressed his grief over the deaths and sent his condolences to the relatives of the victims and the Chinese personnel.

It is the responsibility of the Pakistani government to protect the safety of the Chinese brothers and sisters who have come to Pakistan to help its development and progress, he said.

Chinese companies and workers have resumed work at different sites in Pakistan a few days after the attack on Chinese engineers.

Contrary to propaganda peddled by vested interests, work on the Tarbela Dam extension project has resumed, a testament to the resolve of both nations in the face of adversity, and a classic example of Pakistan-China friendship, Sharif said.

"China firmly supports Pakistan in looking into what happened with utmost resolve and effort, bringing the perpetrators and whoever's behind the attack to justice and doing everything possible to protect the safety and security of Chinese personnel, projects, and institutions in Pakistan," said Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson, on Monday.

In an interview with China Daily in Boao, Hainan province, Abbasi lauded China's help to Pakistan through the Belt and Road Initiative and the flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, project, saying he finds China's engagement and the way the Chinese system works fascinating.

BRI projects are "basically left to the host country to decide what to do", said Abbasi, who recently took on a new role as a member of the board of directors of the Boao Forum for Asia.

He said the Chinese side's framework for the CPEC had only two requirements: projects should be economically viable, and they should be environmentally sustainable.

According to him, CPEC projects have been developed at an amazing speed in the past decade. Now, the focus is shifting to high-quality BRI, which is moving away from signature projects to those that yield better returns and are more technology-focused.

Beneficial relationship

"As part of the community of shared future, I think it is a very, very beneficial relationship in that sense because if you really look back at the Silk Road, it was basically a trading route and it was about inclusion and integration. The same thing is happening now with the BRI," Abbasi said, referring to the Digital Silk Road project. "I think the focus now shifts to technology and also things like artificial intelligence."

The CPEC has been a real success story, according to the Pakistani politician. He refuted the accusations of a "debt trap" by some Western nations, saying the claims have been intentionally made up to harm China's reputation.

Talking about the terrorist attack against Chinese workers in Pakistan, Abbasi said protecting the lives of Chinese nationals involved in various projects in Pakistan is very important.

However, he noted that Pakistan's landmass spans long distances from north to south, with a difficult terrain.

"Pakistan has to deal with the threat from suicide bombers, something which is very difficult to guard against. I think we need to develop new methods for providing security in light of the recent incident," Abbasi said.

But he said the terror attack will not hinder the progress and success of the second phase of the CPEC.

"We are hopeful of moving forward with the CPEC and I am especially looking forward to the potential growth of exports, and the CPEC can be of great help," Abbasi said.

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