Partner: Ties with China are cornerstone of foreign policy
Pakistani Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has lauded the Belt and Road Initiative for having "advanced inclusive development to reduce poverty and inequality, improved people's ability to pay taxes and enhanced governments' ability to retire their debts".
In an exclusive interview with China Daily ahead of his first official visit to China, Kakar described the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, one of the signature projects under the BRI, as a practical manifestation of win-win cooperation and shared prosperity and a commendable endeavor in building a China-Pakistan community with a shared future.
"All these elements also form the bedrock of President Xi Jinping's visionary Belt and Road Initiative," he said.
The Pakistani leader, who took office in August as the eighth caretaker prime minister of Pakistan, is visiting China for the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which will be held in Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Kakar dismissed theories that the BRI has led participating countries into "debt traps", saying that China is offering "a unique mechanism of development financing to developing countries — which is without conditions and different from the traditional development financing models".
"It is wrong to describe BRI financing as a 'debt trap'; it is rather an essential tool for helping countries in achieving comprehensive and inclusive development of their peoples."
He explained that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which has brought about a direct investment of $25.4 billion to Pakistan and created a total of 236,000 jobs, is key to the nation's socioeconomic progress.
"The project underlines an excellent example of an open, coordinated and inclusive development paradigm that benefits all parts of the country and all segments of society," he said, adding that the development of Gwadar Port has already opened new economic opportunities.
"Strategically located, the port is now functional and regularly handling cargo ships including transshipment trade for Afghanistan. A free economic zone is in place offering lucrative incentives for local, Chinese and other international investors," Kakar said, adding that a new international airport will also be inaugurated, bringing the port closer to its vision of serving as the hub of regional trade and connectivity.
Meanwhile, the prime minister emphasized that the "foolproof safety and security of Chinese personnel and institutions is our topmost priority", adding that the Pakistani government has put in place stringent security protocols to safeguard Chinese workers and entrepreneurs.
He cited examples including regular security briefings, risk assessment and information exchanges between the two nations, in order to identify potential threats and come up with solutions accordingly.
"These concerted efforts underline Pakistan's solid commitment to provide a secure environment for our Chinese brothers and sisters, who are contributing to Pakistan's socioeconomic development and progress."
Kakar said he has high expectations for the forum, during which he will meet with Chinese leaders.
"It has provided both our countries with a stage to reaffirm our commitment to international cooperation and development, while highlighting the successes, reviewing the lessons learned and charting the future trajectory of the CPEC," he said.
"Our relations with China form the cornerstone of our foreign policy. I am here to reaffirm our commitment to this all-weather strategic cooperative partnership," Kakar said, describing China as a strategic and trustworthy development partner.
He also spoke highly of China's remarkable achievement in having lifted more than 800 million people from abject poverty, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.
"Like China, Pakistan too is a developing country, with a population of 240 million. There is so much that we can learn from China to put our nation on a path of sustainable development."