Islamabad (August 17, 2015): The first ever International Forum on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was very successful as it brought together for the first time, parliamentarians from major political parties and all the provinces of Pakistan, policy makers, journalists and heads of important national organisations like, the FWO and the NLC at one platform. This was stated by Senator Mushahid Hussain, who is Chairman of the Senate Defence Committee and Co-chair of the Joint Pakistan China think-tank, Research and Development International (RDI), while talking to the media here on Monday.
The forum was jointly hosted by the Xinjiang provincial government and the joint China Pakistan think tank, RDI, in the city of Karamay, close to Urumqi in the Chinese province of Xinjiang, which is the entry point for the CPEC, he said.
Senator Mushahid told that the high level meeting had the participation of the Government of Pakistan through the Minister for Planning and Reform, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal and the Government of Balochistan through the Minister for Planning and Development, Hamid Khan Achakzai.
He further said that the conference had a 3-fold significance. "First, the international forum on the CPEC has been institutionalized and now it will be a regular annual conference bringing together both sides on one platform," he said.
Second, Xinjiang is the entry point of the CPEC from Chinese side and Balochistan is the entry point of the CPEC from the Port of Gwadar, this conference established close relations between the two provinces of Xinjiang and Balochistan by developing a sister city relationship of Gwadar and Karamay as the top officials of Gwadar including the heads of the GPA and GDA and the Nazim of Gwadar were present.
Third, this was the first platform on which top civil and military organisations with the common goal gathered together on one platform for promoting the common objective of building the CPEC.
Both the Chinese and Pakistani side signed MOUs for future cooperation worth almost $ 2 billion. In his keynote address to the conference, Senator Mushahid Hussain said that 36 years after 1979 when the whole region was destabilized by the beginning of the Afghan war and foreign military intervention, "there is a glimmer of hope that the region is being stabilized and Pakistan too has made progress in the campaign against terrorism and extremism which is a common enemy of both China and Pakistan". In this regard, he referred to the Afghan peace process being hosted by Pakistan with the support of China and the United Stated, the impact of the Iran nuclear deal and the CPEC as major new developments which would have a positive impact on the region and help promote regional cooperation.
He expressed that in Pakistan, after intense consultation among the political forces in parliament, especially Party conferences on May 13 and May 28, there was now a complete consensus on the CPEC as a guarantor for the progress and prosperity of Pakistan and all its provinces through its various projects and he added that in this regard, all segments of society including the armed forces and political forces are on the same page viewing Pakistan China relations as being vital for the unity, progress, prosperity and stability of the Federation of Pakistan. He said that it is important that both sides move forward in an organised and planned manner to promote the CPEC and in this regard, he said that the role of Gwadar and the Balochistan province would be pivotal. Dr. Zhao Baige, the Chair of the RDI also warmly welcomed the Pakistani guests and said that the purpose of the forum was to "move beyond talking to implementing and moving forward in a practical manner to promote cooperation between the 2 countries in different areas under the framework of the CPEC". The Pakistani side also had a meeting with the Communist Party of China's Chief of Xinjiang province, Zhang Chunxinang who is also one of the central leaders of China as member of the top policy-making political bureau.
Senator Mushahid Hussain led the Pakistani delegation to attend the CPEC Forum last week which included Senator Salim Mandviwala, Chairman Senate Finance Committee, Senator Hasil Bizenjo, Senator Nuzhat Sadiq, Chair of Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Afrasiab Khattak, Senator Saifullah Magsi, Senator Dr. Ashok Kumar and Shahzada Iftikharuddin, MNA from Chitral. The military side included Lt. Gen. Khalid Asghar, Quarter Master General (QMG) of the Pakistan Army, Lt. Gen. Javed Bokhari, Engineer-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army, Lt. Gen. (R) Ghulam Mustafa Khan, former head of the Fauji Foundation, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Afzal, DG of the FWO, Maj. Gen. Faisal Mushtaq, DG, NLC. Dr. Akram Sheikh, former Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission.