CPEC being carried out in phases without slowing down:Zafar Uddin Mahmood, SAPM
According to Zafar Uddin Mahmood, special assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister, the recent terrorist attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan have a motive of disrupting the close relationship between China and Pakistan, as well as undermining the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has brought significant benefits to Pakistan. In an interview with Chinese media in Guangzhou, China, Mahmood, who previously served as a special envoy for the CPEC, refuted claims by certain Western media outlets that the CPEC projects have slowed down due to Pakistan’s economic difficulties.
The terrorist attacks against Chinese people in Pakistan aim to spoil China-Pakistan relations and sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from which Pakistan has greatly benefited, Zafar Uddin Mahmood, special assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister, told the Global Times on Wednesday in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province.
Mahmood, former special envoy for the CPEC, dismissed some Western media outlets’ reports that the CPEC projects have slowed down due to Pakistan’s economic difficulties.
Mahmood is currently in Guangzhou to participate in the “Understanding China•Greater Bay Area Dialogue” which is being held from Tuesday to Thursday.
He told the Global Times that there is not a slowdown and the construction of the CPEC is being carried out in phases. The first phase involved infrastructure development projects and the second is industry relocation and the service sector. Besides, some Pakistani companies are actively working with China on agricultural cooperation.
As the COVID-19 travel restrictions have been lifted, he expects new momentum in the CPEC this year.
“We have greatly benefited from all these projects which have been done by the Chinese companies in our country,” he said.
Recently, some Indian media also said that Chinese businesses face closure due to concerns over terror attacks in Pakistan.
Mahmood told the Global Times that frankly, there have been a lot of threats through all these years because some people do not like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and as Pakistan is one of the largest beneficiaries of the initiative through the CPEC, they wanted to spoil and derail the CPEC. Moreover, some people are not happy with the close cooperation between the two countries.
He said that there are three layers of security for Chinese people in Pakistan. “First we have the private security guards, then the police and [finally] we have an army unit to protect all the project sites,” he told the Global Times. “Even for the individual Chinese when they travel to Pakistan, the government provides them special security.”
Despite the efforts the Pakistani government made, he admitted that some people keep on threatening, sending messages or something like that.
“But I can tell you very honestly that these people [terrorists] are not Pakistanis. They are not friends of Pakistan. They are actually making every effort to spoil the relationship between the two countries.”
In a phone call with Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on January 9, Foreign Minister Qin Gang stressed that the Chinese side is highly concerned about the safety of Chinese citizens in Pakistan and hopes that the Pakistani side will continue to take strong security measures.
Bilawal said in the phone call that the Pakistani side will spare no effort to protect the safety of the Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan.