Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed has said Islamabad is on the right side of history by standing with Beijing as second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will unveil record development and economic uplift in the country.
Addressing the eighth CPEC Media Forum jointly organized by the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) and the China Economic Net under the theme of – next decade of CPEC: opportunities and learning from the past decade. Senator Mushahid Hussain, who is also Chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute, said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has emerged as the most important development initiative of the twenty-first century.
“Belt and Road Initiative is a new platform, a new path to development, and a new framework for international cooperation of planning, building, and benefiting together for an open, inclusive, and interconnected world that is the key element,” he said. “BRI is all about openness, inclusivity, and connectivity.” Under CPEC initiative, he said a total of $26 billion was devoted to investments, 236,000 jobs were generated, 8,000 megawatts of electricity were produced, and around 510 kilometers of roads and highways were built.
He also said that there were 28,000 Pakistani students in China and 8,000 of them were doing their doctorate degrees which is very important. Under the second phase of CPEC, “Pakistan is focusing on the Main Line-1 (ML-1) upgradation and dualization of the railway infrastructure from Karachi to Peshawar – an 1,872-kilometer railway route.” He said that this would be the biggest transformation in Pakistan’s railway infrastructure since independence.
‘China will provide technology to have multiple crops in Cholistan’s deserts’
Senator Mushahid Hussain said that the second important aspect was the special economic zones and relocation of Chinese industry and the third one which is already underway was agriculture cooperation. He said that the agriculture was a key element in the whole Pakistan-China framework with new irrigation technology. “Like Xinjiang, Pakistan is facing an issue in its Cholistan region that has a lot of deserts where China will provide technology to have multiple crops being harvested there,” he said.
He underscored the need to debunk the disinformation, fake news, and propaganda encircling the CPEC project. “There are two crossing narratives, one from the US-led West and the other from China. In the last 10 years, China invested over a trillion dollars in the BRI’s 3000 projects, lifting 40 million masses out of poverty in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” he said. “In the last 20 years, the United States squandered 6.5 trillion dollars fighting wars in Pakistan and Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. These are not my figures but of Brown University in Rhode Island,” he said.
Senator Mushahid Hussain formally unveiled the report – Perception of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan – which demonstrated that 93.5% of Pakistanis had a positive view of CPEC. He shared a 90-year-old prediction of Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal about the Asian century, China’s peaceful rise, and the shift of the global balance of economic and political power from the West to the East. “We must build a new tomorrow for Asia for amenities where issues are resolved. We reject all occupations, all violations of the United Nations charter and UN resolutions.”
Murtaza Solangi says media as custodian of information should disseminate accurate and unbiased narratives in a responsible manner
Delivering a keynote address, Caretaker Federal Minister for Information, Broadcasting and Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Solangi said CPEC, formally launched in 2013, had substantially transformed the socio-economic scenario by addressing the dire energy crisis and crumbling infrastructure. “I can say that CPEC has infused hope, trust and confidence in Pakistani people,” he said. A 2018 World Bank report suggested a potential 3.5 percent overall economic growth boost, he said.
He said the CPEC Media Forum was launched in 2104 to create awareness among the people about the ongoing propaganda against Pakistan and China. “In a world where information bombards us constantly, shaping our thoughts and opinions, it’s crucial to sift through the facts,” he said while highlighting the critical role of media. He said that the CPEC Media Forum had significant importance for him as he had a privilege of participating in the fourth edition of the CPEC Media Forum in 2018 in Beijing.
— Mustafa Hyder Sayed (@mustafa_h_sayed) December 21, 2023
During that period, he said the positive impacts of CPEC did not fully reach local communities at the initial stage, so there was widespread propaganda against CPEC and China in Western and Indian media. He said that media’s role in shaping public perceptions of CPEC required objective and accurate reporting to highlight its multiple aspects. “Propaganda really shapes how people see such projects by carefully sharing information to influence their beliefs and feelings. It uses selective facts, emotions, and sometimes misleading stories to create a specific viewpoint.”
He said that as the custodian of information, media should disseminate accurate and unbiased narratives in a responsible manner. In today’s information age, “your role as guardians of truth is more vital than ever,” he said, and urged the media to verify, cross-check, and prioritize authenticity over sensationalism to counter the corrosive effects of fake news. “It should contribute to a constructive dialogue, conveying the true impact and potential of CPEC to the public for a prosperous future,” the minister said.
China’s envoy feels sweetness of bottled water from Gwadar
China’s Ambassador Jiang Zaidong extended his gratitude to the Pakistan-China Institute, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, China Economic Net and Economic Daily for holding the eighth edition of the CPEC Media Forum. He also thanked China’s Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Sun Weidong for his congratulatory letter, expressing felicitations and well wishes to the two nations on the 8th iteration of the forum and the success of the CPEC and BRI. He lauded Senator Mushahid Hussain’s remarks that Pakistan was standing at the right side of history and supporting China embodies all-weather strategic friendship.
He mentioned the latest data of China’s National Bureau of Statistics indicating the Chinese economy growing and thriving owing to its primary, secondary, and tertiary industries, consumption, investment, exports, innovative and hi-tech manufacturing potential. He noted that CPEC would also focus on increasing the livelihood initiatives for the local masses as during his recent visit to Gwadar, he was informed that Chinese were establishing desalination plants, and hospitals and working on providing households in Gwadar to get 10,000 solar lights.
— Pakistan-China Institute (@PciPakChina) December 21, 2023
“I drank a bottle of water from a desalination plant and told caretaker prime minister that it’s sweet and it is the taste of our bilateral friendship” the ambassador said, adding that bilateral cooperation promoted a conducive environment for media cooperation which should be fostered to counter the external forces bad-mouthing about CPEC. “We will have to realize that if we lose discourse power then we will be bashed and lose the game.”
Through video link, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Khalil Hashmi said the celebration of the decade of CPEC initiative and the CPEC Media Forum were stock-taking exercise and a reflection exercise as the two nations transitioned into the second phase of CPEC. He said that it was also the occasion to recognize accomplishments, and review the lessons that were learned and chart a path that shaped the future for the people. He said that the China-Pakistan relationship was unique and founded on a high level of trust, mutual respect, and need to support sharing interests.
In his opening remarks, PCI Executive Director Mustafa Hyder Sayed welcomed the students from Gwadar University for attending the forum as special guests along with other guests on the occasion. He shed light on significance of the CPEC Media Forum and the important themes in the aftermath of environment-friendly and carbon neutrality-related aspects of the economic pathway initiative. China Economic Net president read out message from Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Sun Weidong. Economic Daily China Editor-in-Chief Zheng Qingdong addressed the forum online.