by Misbah Saba Malik
ISLAMABAD, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Pakistani economic experts and speakers from different countries at the two-day Islamabad Security Dialogue being held here said that countries involved in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are emerging as economic powerhouses through the win-win cooperation offered by the initiative.
In a conversation with Xinhua, Ashfaque Hasan Khan, a senior economic analyst and member of the Economic Advisory Council of the government of Pakistan, said that Pakistan is one example of the great beneficiaries of the BRI through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which not only brought infrastructural development in the country but also paved way for industrialization.
"Industrialization through the special economic zones identified across the country under the framework of CPEC will not only help boost the country's economy but also help it pay back its loans to Western lenders by wealth creation through export enhancement," he added.
Speaking at the Islamabad Security Dialogue that began on Friday, Chairperson of the Pakistan Stock Exchange Shamshad Akhtar said that the BRI is very important for Pakistan and other involving countries, so it should not be affected by any change in the security situation in the world.
Talking about CPEC, she said that "it gave strength to Pakistan and helped it overcome many problems" including meeting the electricity demands of the country.
She said CPEC is not only about Chinese investment but also about integration with Pakistan which has resulted in multiple joint ventures between Pakistani and Chinese companies to share the growth and benefits.
"CPEC has given Pakistan an economic strength to count on. People of Pakistan are getting benefits from CPEC and Chinese investments everywhere including in stock exchange, power plants, infrastructure and cross-border fiber optics," she added.
Citing the example of China's cooperation with countries involved in the BRI to fight pandemic by donating vaccines and equipment, she said that the BRI played the role of a health corridor to give relief to the pandemic-stricken people.
Over the years, the BRI and the economy of the countries have seen remarkable progress, and the connectivity was enhanced, industrial parks were built and employment was created, which is an example of win-win cooperation, she added.
Chief Executive Officer of Sindh Economic Zones Management Company Abdul Azeem Uqaili also expressed the same views in a conversation with Xinhua, saying Pakistan is located at a strategic position and the BRI not only gave it a better chance to connect to the outside world but also attract foreign investment inside it.
"A few years ago we could not even think about setting up industry in Pakistan because we did not have enough electricity supply and we were facing an acute energy crisis, and our roads were in a poor condition and our connectivity was weak, but the first phase of CPEC brought a revolution and enabled Pakistan to be in a position to start industrialization process with adequate electricity, enhanced connectivity within the country and outside the borders," he added.
Speakers at the event said that enhanced connectivity offered by the BRI is one of the main reasons for the visible economic development being witnessed in the countries involved in the initiative.
Experts believe that in Pakistan and other developing countries which are a part of the BRI, Chinese projects are acting as engines of economic growth especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. ■