GWADAR – CJCSC Gen Zubair Mehmood Hayat yesterday said Pakistan’s economy will be strengthened from the Gwadar port, which he termed ‘the crown of the CPEC’.
He hoped that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor along with the new port would also usher in an era of prosperity in the entire region.
The Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) was in Gwadar along with other members of the military top brass and a large number of civilian and Chinese officials to attend launch of a special force for CPEC maritime security and a two-day international maritime moot.
Addressing the ceremony of raising of Pakistan Navy’s special ‘Task Force-88’ (TF-88), Gen Zubair acknowledged the role being played by country’s navy in ensuring a safe and secure maritime environment which was a prerequisite for maritime economy to flourish.
He lauded the PN initiative of raising the dedicated task force for maritime security of CPEC. He said this would contribute significantly towards the success of the Economic Corridor. He hoped that Navy will continue with its endeavours to ensure maritime security.
“The role of Pakistan Navy is deeply embedded in the maritime operationalisation of CPEC as it would be required to shoulder greater responsibilities to ensure protection of growing maritime trade and to provide security to our sea lanes,” the CJCSC said.
The special task force has been established for the maritime security of Gwadar port and protection of associated sea lanes against both conventional and non-traditional threats.
This force was necessitated as maritime susceptibilities have been increased with the operationalisation of CPEC, which is expected to lead to a surge in maritime activity at Gwadar – the nodal point for CPEC.
TF-88 will work alongside the special security division of Pakistan Army which was created for the economic corridor and the task force will be equipped with drones and other latest weapons.
The raising ceremony of TF-88 and International Maritime Conference on CPEC and Gwadar Port were to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was scheduled to arrive here today from Lahore.
The stage was set and the enthusiasm among the participants was worth watching. But this enthusiasm received a setback when Balochistan Chief Minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri announced that the PM’s visit has been cancelled as his special plane could not take off due to inclement weather condition.
It was then decided that the Task Force-88 raising would be presided over by Gen Zubair Mehmood Hayat while Zehri presided over the opening session of the maritime conference.
This special force raising ceremony was held at the Gwadar Port Terminal with a smartly turned out squad of TF-88 that presented guard of honour to the chief guest.
The two events were also attended by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Naval Chief Admiral Zakaullah and Air Chief Sohail Aman, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and others.
A large number of Chinese officials, chief executives of business organisations, bankers and experts had also come from Beijing and Shanghai. The Chinese contingent was headed by Vice Minister and Chairperson of Research & Development International Dr Baige Zhao who also delivered a keynote address in the maritime moot. Chinese Ambassador Mr Sun Weidong was also present.
CPEC dividends linked with maritime security: Vice Admiral Zafar
Speaking at the TF-88 ceremony, Vice Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbassi, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Operations, said that viability and assured dividends of CPEC related projects are intrinsically linked with the security of maritime domain. Therefore, providing security to CPEC on land as well as making its maritime prong safe is vital for the projects’ success.
In this regard, ensuring maritime security remains an important responsibility of Pakistan Navy which is set to grow in the coming years. Accordingly, the navy is gearing up to meet this challenge.
Earlier, during his welcome address, Gwadar Port Authority chairman thanked Pakistan Navy for ensuring security of the port and highlighted the importance of Gwadar Port for the prosperity of Pakistan. He also handed over the traditional Command Telescope to the first Commander of Task Force-88, Commodore Muhammad Waris, on the occasion.
Port a first step in CPEC-promised development: Dr Zhao
In her address to International Maritime Conference, RDI Chairperson and Vice Minister Dr Baige Zhao said she was so happy to be here to join the conference. “First of all, I would like to congratulate you all for the great achievements attained in CPEC development, especially in the Balochistan and Gwadar region, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sharif, with the joint efforts of government, parliament, military and the people of Pakistan.”
“A number of projects have achieved great success – these include infrastructure projects covering railways, highways and airports; livelihood projects covering hospitals and schools construction; and water processing programs, as well as innovative and sustainable projects covering new energy development,” she added.
The vice minister said construction of Gwadar marked a further step in CPEC development, and will serve as powerful stimuli for socio-cultural integration and economic advancement of the region and country.
Since 2014, she said, China actively put forward the “One Belt and One Road (OBOR)” initiative to promote facility connection, policy communication, financial exchanges, trade communication and people-to-people exchanges, to bring peace and development to every country and every individual.
OBOR, Zhao added would foster new growth points in the global economy, promote infrastructure development, expand investment and exports, and realise stable economic growth. More importantly, it would promote a global governance structure more adaptable to globalisation and providing more incentives for emerging economies to play an active role, she said.
“CPEC as a flagship project of this initiative conceived in 2013 has attained great achievements. Today, we are so proud here to celebrate the success of the project and to testify the deepened friendship between China and Pakistan”, she went on to say.
“We have also clearly recognised the importance of institutional support and resource mobilisation. Research and Development International (RDI), the innovative think tank, serves as an important platform for implementing OBOR. Seven groups of RDI provide legal services, policy research, project information, financial support, culture and branding consultation, and capacity building. RDI has established China-Pakistan International Cooperation Committee and created the co-chair system”.
Dr Baige Zhao said as the most and 6th populous countries in the world, China and Pakistan bear great potentials in contributing to the world. The success of CPEC tests and proves our great strength and solidarity, and promises more robust cooperation prospect. “Together, we shall maintain regional and global stability and extend the fruit of development to everyone,” she added.
Gwadar to produce 0.7m jobs: Zehri
Inaugurating the two-day moot earlier, Chief Minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri said it was his unique honour to be present among an assembly of those who had gathered here to review the progress made so far on Gwadar Port and to explore new vistas of cooperation.
He said once the CPEC was commissioned, it would transform the local community in particular and the people of Pakistan economically in general. He said it was the policy of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to make concerted efforts to ensure participation of deprived local population in developmental activities.
Zehri said the CPEC will generate up to 0.7 million direct jobs by 2030 and its part in the national gross domestic product will mount to 17 percent.
He said CPEC would evidently prove a game-changer not only for Balochistan and Pakistan but also for the entire region by usher in new economic avenues and fostering economic activities. “This project is of a pivotal significance in building our future.”
The CM said that besides constituting a new security division for the security of Gwadar and CPEC, the approval for Gwadar Safe City Project had also been assented and funds issued for it.
Construction works on several other projects was continuing with expeditious pace and Gwadar International Airport was being built with a cost of 250 million dollars which would get complete by 2019. East Bay Express Way was being constructed with the cost of 150 million dollars while 150-bed Pak-China Friendship Hospital was also under construction in Gwadar with the cost of 100 million dollars.
He went on to say that Gwadar Port will become hub of economic activities by connecting Pakistan with with China through Kashghar under the CPEC for which a net of highways, railways and pipelines were being laid. Visualising the future of this port, he asserted it occupied a unique position among the regional ports by dint of its deep water and geographical location.
He lauded the efforts of law enforcement agencies for foolproof security to Chinese engineers and workers by dint of which no terror incident had taken place in Gwadar for last eight months.