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CPEC under One Belt,OBOR initiative open to all countries in the region: Nawaz Sharif

15 May, 2017

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BEIJING: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, was open to all countries in the region and that the project ‘must not be politicized’.

“Let me make it very clear that CPEC is an economic undertaking open to all countries in the region. It has no geographical boundaries. It must not be politicised,” the prime minister said in his address to the plenary session of High-level Dialogue on Belt and Road Forum (BRF), themed ‘Cooperation for Common Prosperity’, being held in Beijing.

The prime minister said OBOR could be regarded as a ‘powerful tool for overcoming terrorism and extremism’, and called for building a peaceful, connected and caring neighbourhood by shunning mutual differences.

“It is time we transcend our differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy, and leave a legacy of peace for future generations,” he said at the BRF platform, with 29 heads of states and governments and 1,500 delegates in attendance.

The prime minister said peace and development go hand in hand and nothing can pave the path for peace and security more than economic development achieved through regional collaboration. “The OBOR signifies that geo-economics must take precedence over geo-politics and that the centre of gravity should shift from conflict to cooperation,” he said. “As OBOR is unfolding across continents, it is fostering inclusion, creating tolerance and promoting acceptance of cultural diversity,” he said.

The prime minister said CPEC was a core project of OBOR and had rightly been called its flagship for aiming to connect the neighbourhoods of East and West Asia. He said CPEC made Pakistan both a conduit and destination for cross-regional investment and trade.

Nawaz said his participation in the forum was to celebrate the remarkable success of the seminal initiative of ‘One Belt, One Road’. He expressed confidence that the historic event would build critical pathways in the years to come for economic and financial cooperation, business-to-business collaboration and people-to-people contacts.

The PM said OBOR connected Asia, Africa and Europe, besides covering half of the world population, half of its resources, and 65 countries. Investors from across the world are pouring their resources into it, he said, adding that the initiative has made win-win partnerships possible for all.

Even more importantly, he said, OBOR would help repair and reform global economic governance as it was not only the revival of ancient Silk Road. Rather, a conscious and humanistic endeavour to take humankind to a higher level of prosperity, peace and stability through connectivity and close contact. “Such a broad sweep and scale of interlocking economic partnerships and investments is unprecedented in history. We stand at the cusp of a geo-economic revolution. In fact, this is the dawn of a truly new era of synergetic intercontinental cooperation,” he remarked.

Nawaz said his government had shaped an enabling environment for the CPEC to take off as it was producing new entrepreneurs, creating new jobs and businesses and attracting international investment.

“In pursuance of this vision, we are also bridging the gap between economic growth and social development by focusing on poverty alleviation, education, health, and gender mainstreaming. We would tap the full potential of our youth, who constitute more than 60 per cent of our population,” the prime minister said.

Nawaz emphasised that OBOR had gained wide traction as it negated the logic of polarization and rejected the encirclement of any country. “It is about connectivity. It is about emancipation. It moves us out of silos into shared space. The fact is that now OBOR belongs to us all - those who are participating in it and those who are not as yet,” he elaborated.

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