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CPEC is a savior of Pakistan’s economy amid the pandemic outbreak

  • May 5, 2020
CPEC is a savior of Pakistan’s economy amid the pandemic outbreak
Image caption CPEC is a savior of Pakistan’s economy amid the pandemic outbreak

BEIJING: COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major, dramatic disruption in the global economy and Pakistan will also face severe consequences of an economic slowdown. With this abrupt change in the economic environment, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ( CPEC ) is even more crucial for Pakistan’s development than it was prior to the advent of COVID-19 early this year,” CEO of Karachi Education Initiative ( KEI ) Muneer Kamal said while talking to China Economic Net.

Muneer who is also former Chairman of Karachi Stock Exchange further said, “Given a gloomy global economic environment in the foreseeable future, it would be difficult for Pakistan to attract foreign direct investment to develop its economic infrastructure. In this very challenging environment, It is fortunate that large CPEC projects have and will continue to be implemented. The continuation of CPEC will counter some of the negative global investment environment”, Kamal said.

“The relationship with China has been and will remain unique and special for Pakistan. The importance of CPEC is magnified if we see regional dynamics and their impact on Pakistan’s economy”, Kamal added.

He explained that Pakistan’s trade and investment opportunities are limited with its immediate neighbors except for China. The current environment does not allow a healthy economic interaction with India, and sanctions imposed on Iran limit Pakistan’s trade with the Iranian market. Continued instability in Afghanistan also leaves few good economic opportunities though recent developments are encouraging for better trade in the future. Fortunately for Pakistan, its key neighbour China is poised to become the largest economy in the world in a few decades.

“CPEC is a manifestation of almost six decades of extremely close relationship between China and Pakistan and China’s stunning economic growth. Since CPEC is a flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), its success will be beneficial for both countries”, he added.

Responding to a question, Kamal said that one of the first signs of negative impact of COVID-19 was on Pakistan’s external account. Exports and remittances have already shown signs of weakness. With a total debt of $110 billion (according to State Bank of Pakistan), $ 38 billion debt service ( interest and principal ) is required in the next three years. To meet these maturing obligations will be very challenging especially when Pakistan’s foreign currency sources are already under a lot of pressure. It is with this background that Prime Minister Imran Khan in April this year made a plea to the developed world, particularly G-20, for a debt relief package for countries like Pakistan. China fully supported this Debt Service Suspension Initiative for affected countries, and proposed to carry out specific work through bilateral consultations at the request of relevant borrowers. So far the G-20 has responded positively to provide debt relief to Pakistan and other countries. China’s support has been greatly appreciated by Pakistan and the two sides will disscuss for a possible debt relief on bilateral basis.

May 5: Major General Babar Iftikhar, director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said that Pakistan Army troops have been deployed across the country to aid the civil administration to contain the novel coronavirus.

“The main objective of the deployment is to enforce the provincial governments’ lockdown directives,” Maj-Gen Iftikhar said in his first-ever interview to private news channel, since assuming the charge of head of military’s media wing in February.
The military is also providing medical and all possible support to the civil administration. “We are also engaged in the mass production of personal protection equipment (PPEs).”

According to the ISPR DG, the National Command and Control Centre (NCOC) was formed to tackle the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and to synergise the national efforts via this central authority. He appreciated the China’s help to Pakistan in tackling the global pandemic, saying: “Their role is very positive and we are grateful to them.”

While rubbishing the Modi government’s allegation about infiltration attempts, Maj-Gen Iftikhar said, “The baseless allegations of Indian leadership like infiltration of infected Covid-19 patients across LoC are condemnable.”

He went on to say that the saffronisation of Indian army is a reality and it could “jeopardise the regional peace and stability”.
Maj-Gen Iftikhar also reiterated the country’s earlier demand that the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) should hold inquiry into the Indian allegations of targeting ‘launching pads’, saying “The UNMOGIP is welcome to visit any area in Pakistan.” The deployment and activities of the Pakistan Army’s troops on eastern and western borders have not been disturbed due to ongoing Covid-19 relief operations.

May 5: Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz has said that China has paid its due friendship with Pakistan in every hour of need.

He said ration bags donated by Pak-China Corridor Friendship would be distributed among people who are suffering due to coronavirus. He expressed these views while addressing a function organized by the Pak-China Corridor Friendship Program to collect 200 bags of rations for the union councils affected by the coronavirus.

The Director of the program, MujeebAlam, said, Director Mr. Zheng Du Zhen, Deputy Mayor Islamabad Syed ZeeshanNaqvi, Media Coordinator MCI MohsinShirazi, Director DMA ZafarIqbal and others was also present in the ceremony. On this occasion, Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz said that we are serving the citizens with the help of philanthropists and institutions in extremely unfavorable conditions. He said that many important steps are being taken to provide drinking water, sanitation and door-to-door supply of essential items in the affected areas while MCI is also doing disinfectant spray in Islamabad. He said we are thankful to China for providing ration bags to Metropolitan Corporation during this difficult time. On this occasion, the program director MujeebAlam said that initially 200 bags have been provided and we will provide more support in future as well.

Meanwhile, Mayor Sheikh Ansar Aziz, Deputy Mayor ZeeshanNaqvi and UC Chairman Farman Mughal, SardarMehtab and RanaAshfaq also visited the affected sector of I-10. On this occasion, the Mayor of Islamabad also met with the residents of the area and listened to their problems.

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