Pakistan’s Minister for Planning Development and Special Initiatives, Ahsan Iqbal, has refuted claims that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a ‘debt trap’. During a press conference in Islamabad, Iqbal dismissed the notion that the stories of the initiative being a debt trap are “concocted to spread propaganda in global geopolitics of competition.” He emphasized that wherever the BRI has gone, local people have testified to its positive impact. Iqbal also praised China for extending the BRI to Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has given Pakistan a great opportunity in areas such as energy, infrastructure, telecommunication, and industrial cooperation.
Iqbal further highlighted the strategic location and potential for trade in Gwadar, which he said is set to become a major trade and commerce hub in the region with its Free Zone and investment from Chinese companies. He added that goods could be shipped to China through Gwadar in almost one-tenth of the distance from the South China Sea. The minister also emphasized the government’s priority to attract more private sector investment in Pakistan, particularly in the mining sector, which holds tremendous potential for value addition and development.
Read More: Study Reveals China Spent $240 Billion in Bailing Out Developing ‘Belt & Road’ Countries
The year 2023 marks the decade of CPEC and the strong partnership between Pakistan and China. Iqbal revealed that both countries will be celebrating 10 Years of the BRI and CPEC on July 5, 2023. In line with this milestone, high-level Chinese delegations are scheduled to visit Pakistan to witness the achievements made since the inception of CPEC.