As the first shipment of goods arrived from China, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the first trade pilot project in Gwadar port on Sunday, promising a golden period for Pakistan once China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project gets underway.
“Today we are seeing the first step of a much larger project that my government inaugurated two years ago,” Sharif told a gathering at the newly built Gwadar port. “We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the CPEC and all the projects under its umbrella are materialised within the given time. ”
CPEC is for all of Pakistan and no region will be left out of it, he said, apparently addressing reservations of smaller provinces that claim the project doesn’t benefit them. Sharif claimed the government of Balochistan and the army have been successful in making the local population a stakeholder in development.
The government has spent Pakistani rupiah 49 billion on these projects and projects worth 200 billion will be launched next year, he added.
Sharif warned that those who opposed the project would be viewed as enemies of Pakistan. “Anyone who is against the CPEC is against Pakistan,” he said, referring to those who have consistently objected to the route of the project as well as the choice to site the allied industries.
Baloch nationalists have also opposed the project on grounds the people of Balochistan were not consulted despite the fact that the bulk of the CPEC highway runs through that province.
The top military brass were in full attendance at the ceremony on Sunday.
The Pakistan military has given its full blessings and support to the CPEC, say observers.
Earlier in the day, the first Chinese trade convoy arrived at the port through CPEC, with security provided by contingents of special security division of the Pakistan Army.
Starting its journey from Kashghar, the Chinese trade cargo reached Gwadar safely from Gilgit-Baltistan after travelling through the country.
The government has already allocated land for Gwadar Free Trade Zone and the government has also announced concessions for Gwadar Port and Free Trade Zone in Balochistan.
The projects of Exclusive Industrial Park Processing Zone and Mineral Economic Zone are also being executed on priority basis.