Kazakhstan shows willingness to join CPEC project

ASTANA: Kazakhstan announced on Tuesday its support and intention to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the long run when its Prime Minister Karim Massimov assured visiting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here that Kazakhstan would like to join the mega project as it would provide an alternative route to the Central Asian State for access to sea.
The prime minister has enhanced interactions with Pakistan’s extended neighbourhood by establishing contacts with the Central Asian Republics. It is the fifth such visit of the prime minister to a country of this region in less than a year.

The prime minister has shortened his stay in Astana and it is likely he will be returning to Islamabad in the afternoon today (Wednesday) instead of the evening. He has called off his recreational engagements and decided to return home on completion of the working part of the trip. 
Prime Minister Nawaz, who is visiting the richest country of the area with subsoil deposits, has brought 20 top industrialists and businessmen with him as no parliamentarian or family member is part of his entourage.

Talking to the prime minister of the host country, he said that with the establishment of transport and infrastructure, trade would get a boost in the region. He called for strengthening of bilateral ties between Pakistan and Kazakhstan through enhanced cooperation in diverse areas, particularly trade, energy and infrastructure connectivity for the mutual benefit of two brotherly countries. “There is a large scope for trade in textile and cotton products, pharmaceuticals, food items, engineering equipment and machinery and construction enterprises.” 

Besides discussing ways and means to strengthen the bilateral ties, the two leaders also exchanged views on the regional and international issues of mutual interest. The prime minister, who is on a two-day official visit of Kazakhstan at the invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev, shared with Prime Minister Karim Massimov his government’s vision of establishing energy and trade corridors with the countries in Central Asia. Pakistani ports (Gwadar and Karachi) provide the shortest route to sea for the CARs, he said, adding that Pakistan was eager to see a prosperous Central Asia with all countries connected by rail, road and air-links and generating business. He noted that despite enormous economic complementarities, the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Kazakhstan was below the actual potential. He said the visa policy needed to be liberalised to gain maximum advantages in bilateral trade. He said, “Pakistan offers Kazakhstan the shortest access to the sea. Most of the Central Asian States had shown keen interest in using Pakistan’s sea ports for their exports,” he added. 

Prime Minister Nawaz said that Kazakhstan could help Pakistan in meeting its energy requirements. He reminded that the Quadrilateral Agreement for Traffic in Transit (between Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) will facilitate a direct land route between the two countries. He said Pakistan views Kazakhstan as an important state in the region as its strategic geographic location and energy resources made it a more attractive and important country. He recalled that Kazakhstan had supported Pakistan’s successful bid to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council in October 2011 and it was a great gesture of cooperation on the international forums. Pakistan, he said, supported Kazakhstan’s membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Pakistan, he added, “also supports Kazakhstan’s bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2017-2018.” 
He urged the need for closer interaction at the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building in Asia (CICA) and SCO. He said that Pakistan appreciated the constructive role Kazakhstan was playing in the Heart of Asia Process as well as in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation). 

The prime minister appreciated Kazakhstan’s support for Pakistan in acquiring full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). 
Discussing the regional developments with the Kazakh prime minister, he said that Pakistan wanted to have good relations with all its neighbours, including India. 
About Afghanistan, he said, Pakistan and Kazakhstan had a common interest in a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan. The two countries, he added, also supported an inclusive Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process. The prime minister said stability in Afghanistan would bring prosperity and enhance cooperation in the entire region. 

Talking about terrorism, the prime minister said that Pakistan, which had suffered from terrorism for a decade, was now leading the fight against terrorism and extremism. He said the comprehensive and all-out law enforcement action Zarb-e-Azb against all the terrorist groups without distinction had yielded positive results. 
Nawaz said Pakistan had formulated a comprehensive National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism. 
The premier thanked the Kazakh leadership for the warm welcome and hospitality and said he was very happy to be in Kazakhstan. He said that Pakistan appreciated the visionary leadership of Kazakhstan for bringing stability to its people. 

Prime Minister Karim Massimov thanked Nawaz Sharif for his second visit to Kazakhstan and said they remembered that Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognise the independence of Kazakhstan in the early 1990s. He said Pakistan was a brotherly country and Kazakhstan wanted to deepen its relations with it.
Massimov said that Pakistan had been supporting Kazakhstan at all international fora and the same had been reciprocated by Kazakhstan. He said there existed a huge room for cooperation in the areas of trade and investment between the two countries. He emphasised to make preparations for the next Joint Inter-Governmental Commission meeting to be held in Astana in October this year.
The Kazakh prime minister also highlighted the need of cooperation for bringing peace in the region. 
Later, the Kazakh prime minister hosted a dinner in the honour of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his entourage. The prime minister in a detailed interview carried by the leading English daily of Kazakhstan “Astana Times” said that the purpose of his visit to Kazakhstan was to further strengthen the ties, expand cooperation in different areas, and increase the bilateral trade, investment and economic cooperation. 
Nawaz stressed that both the sides needed to make efforts to utilise all available options, while simultaneously exploring new areas of cooperation. 
Responding to a question, Nawaz said Pakistan supported the Conference for Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) process and actively participated in its activities. 

“Pakistan believes that adherence to the UN Charter is essential for peace, stability and security in Asia. Principles of non-interference in internal affairs, development of friendly relations and settlement of disputes through dialogue should be promoted. There is an intrinsic link between development and security. Therefore, we should focus on regional connectivity and building economic synergies,” Nawaz sad. 

“Pakistan admires Kazakhstan’s role for the international peace and security and has full confidence in our brotherly country and its visionary leadership. The Kazakh leadership created CICA, which contributes to peace and security. Kazakhstan is also an important member of SCO. We welcome Kazakhstan’s increasing role as a peace building centre,” he added.

Earlier, Pakistan and Kazakhstan inked three Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) for cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, defence and strategic studies and training in foreign services. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Kazakh counterpart witnessed the signing of MoUs. 

Pakistan welcomes CPEC’s endorsement by UNSC

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan has welcomed the UN Security Council’s endorsement of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and other projects under “One Belt, One Road” initiative calling it an evidence of global acceptance for country’s move towards regional peace and prosperity.

In an interview with The News at UN Secretariat, Pakistan’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Dr Maleeha Lodhi said that world community acknowledges Pakistan’s key role in the region.

The UN Security Council has recently adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) by one year. The resolution mentioned and endorsed “One Belt, One Road” project that includes the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a mean to achieve regional connectivity and prosperity.

“If the Security Council endorses CPEC as factor for stability, obviously there is international endorsement for the project,” Dr Lodhi said adding that the resolution had acknowledged the critical importance of “One Belt, One Road” for peace and prosperity.

Dr Lodhi is a former journalist, author and seasoned diplomat who had served as Pakistan’s ambassador in key world capitals including Washington and London.

She said Pakistan remains among the world’s top three troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations and by virtue of that commands the respect of the international community in the 193-member world body.

“The world community acknowledges Pakistan’s key role in the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Pakistan has contributed almost 150,000 troops to the UN peacekeeping missions since 1960 when it first deployed troops in the Congo wearing the signature blue helmets.

Dr Lodhi said Pakistan has enjoyed influence at the United Nations over the years having played an active and important role in all three pillars of the UN system: peace and security, human rights and development.

The country has served on the Security Council seven times as a non-permanent member which is something of a record as not many countries have had this distinction. This, she said, is a measure of the contribution the country has made to international peace and security.

“Getting elected to the Council needs the backing of other countries and Pakistan has repeatedly managed to get this support owing to its important role and contribution,” she said.

When asked about Indian efforts to isolate Pakistan globally, she said Pakistan cannot be isolated by any country.

“A few days ago I hosted a reception to mark Pakistan Day. Diplomats from over 100 countries joined us and the UN Secretary General also attended the event. That does not appear to me any kind of isolation,” she said, adding, “In fact it’s the very opposite of that and gives the lie to the claims of those who say we are marginalised.”

Dr Lodhi also mentioned the recently held 13th summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) hosted by Islamabad, which was attended by heads of states or top representatives from 9 important regional countries. This too negates the propaganda about Pakistan’s isolation.

Dr Lodhi humbly mentioned the contribution of other distinguished Pakistani diplomats and her predecessors in shaping the UN agenda. “Their stature and contribution has meant that I am a beneficiary of that legacy.”

She said a key responsibility of Pakistan’s UN mission is to highlight the Kashmir issue and the humanitarian situation in the Indian held territory.

“As we speak, Held Kashmir is confronted with a very serious situation of grave human rights violations and the continued denial of self-determination to the Kashmiri people,” she said.

Dr Lodhi presented a dossier on human rights violation by Indian in Kashmir to the UN Secretary General and to the permanent five members of the Security Council.

“Also I was able to brief the president of the Security Council on the grave human rights violation in Indian occupied Kashmir and at our request he then informally briefed all the members of the council,” she said, for the first time in several decades.

She said the purpose of Pakistani efforts is to urge international community to support a peaceful resolution of Kashmir, one of the oldest disputes on the agenda of the United Nations.

Dr Lodhi will remain busy next a few weeks in inter-governmental negotiation on UN Security council reform.

She said Pakistan wants reforms in the UN Security council based on the principles of democracy.

Pakistan with a group of other countries called “Uniting for Consensus Countries” advocate democratic reform of the Security Council. “These reforms must reflect the realities of the 21st century. The council was configured after World War II and it reflected the victors of the war. It is time to change this as the world has changed very profoundly.”

She believes the principal dynamic of the world today is an egalitarian and democratic one.

“Who in the world will challenge the idea of democracy? If we accept that then the Security Council must be expanded by bringing in more elected members because if you expand the council by adding permanent members then you are reinforcing the non-elected part which is not democratic,” she said.

Dr Lodhi believes a democratic council will be more representative, accountable, effective and transparent.

She said Pakistan’s position is supported by a number of important countries including Italy, Columbia, Argentina, South Korea and China.

She said the reforms are equivalent to amendment to a country’s constitution. It will involve amendment of the UN charter. “So we are actually looking at constitutional reform in that sense. Therefore it has to be based on consensus and it has to be politically accepted to everyone.

“We feel that adding elected members will give more countries a chance to serve on the council rather than the privilege being restricted to a few,” she said.

Source : The news 196030

CPEC centre of excellence launched

ISLAMABAD: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) centre of excellence was formally launched here on Monday to promote research and knowledge- based policy- making in the country.

The centre was jointly inaugurated here by Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Professor Ahsan Iqbal and Ambassador of China to Pakistan, Sub Weidong.

Addressing the ceremony held in this connection, Ahsan Iqbal hoped that researchers at the centre would guide the policy-makers and businessmen to get maximum benefits from CPEC and they would also help keeping the mega project in the right direction.

He urged the researchers to build linkages with international scholars and produce cutting-edge research for the country and region.

Ahsan said the CPEC had proved as a big bang for Pakistan economy as the economy had turned around from its very sluggish condition back in 2013 to an extremely hopeful and robust condition in just three years.

“In 2013, the world was terming the Pakistan economy as the worst and no investor was ready to invest even US $100 in Pakistan, then Pakistan’s time-tested friend China moved forward and initiated the $46 billion mega project”, he added.

Rejecting the notion that the completion of CPEC projects would only benefit China, the minister said a huge inflow of investment was pouring into the country which would help the local industry to flourish.

He said under CPEC early harvest projects, maximum energy projects would start generation in 2018 which would end load shedding in the country.

He said the country’s road, infrastructure, transport system was also being improved thanks to CPEC which would help boosting internal and external connectivity of the country.

The Chinese Ambassador on the occasion said that CPEC had become symbol of Pakistan China long living friendship.

He said the project would give more benefit to Pakistan than China.

He said 18 early harvest projects worth $18.5 billion of CPEC were now under construction and they would be completed by next year.

The Ambassador said the CPEC projects would further mobilise Pakistan potential.

He said in recent years, Pakistan economy had made tremendous progress and now the international credit rating agencies were rating Pakistan’s economy as good.

He said in next five years, Pakistan’s energy demand would surpass 33000 MW and CPEC energy projects of over 11000 MW would help meet the energy gap.

He said CPEC was the major and leading project of China’s one belt one road vision.