Imran Khan returns as a champion of the Corridor and BRI
Imran Khan’s talks during his five day tour of China have led to both sides having a better appreciation of each other’s concerns. While expectations regarding a hefty financial assistance were not fulfilled, agreements were reached on vital social and economic issues.
There was talk about reviewing the entire CPEC plan in PTI circles soon after Imran Khan was sworn in as prime minister. Khan is returning from China as a fervent advocate of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its showpiece project, the CPEC. As the joint statement put it “both sides dismissed the growing negative propaganda against CPEC and expressed determination to safeguard the CPEC projects from all threats.” Pakistan and China also concurred about its being a win-win enterprise for the entire region and beyond and would bring prosperity and development through enhanced connectivity
The Chinese side has accommodated some of Imran Khan’s proposals like making the plan people friendly with emphasis on regional development and poverty alleviation. Also included is his proposal for cooperation in industrial development and faciliation of Pakistan’s exports, particularly to the big Chinese market. There was agreement to take concrete measures to address the trade imbalance; also to boost Pakistan’s industrial capacity through joint ventures in priority areas, relocation of labor-intensive industry and SMEs collaboration. The Chinese side agreed to continue supporting Pakistan in technical and vocational training to develop a skilled manpower for employment in CEPC projects through assistance in upgrading vocational training institutes, vocational training exchanges, and capacity building of trainers. The Chinese assistance will also be directed towards agriculture, education, health and safe drinking wate.
There was no announcement of a big financial package as provided by Saudi Arabia. China will however provide an undefined “necessary support” to Pakistan to tide over the present financial crisis. As for the specific measures to be taken, the competent authorities from both sides were to hold detailed discussions. Sixteen agreement were signed between the two countries. Big promises, these, if effectively fulfilled. Fingers crossed that this is done.