Pakistan and China have signed a multifaceted China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, with relations between the two countries continuing to be minimal. CPEC is seen as the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy when it comes to maintaining relations with China. However, relations between the two countries are spread through a variety of other significant fields, which are sometimes ignored by policymakers. The multicontinental flagship of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) spans three continents and strengthens China’s geopolitical and military role in the region and around the world.
The 8th session of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Joint Working Group on transportation infrastructure was held on Monday at the Ministry of Communications via live stream. In addition to Federal Secretary Communications Zafar Hassan, Vice Minister of China for Transport DAI Dongchang, Deputy Director-General for sustainable development China Shan Hongjun and Chairman of the National Highway Authority Captain (R) Sikander Qayyum also participated. Elected officials of the Foreign Office, the CPEC Authority, the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the Governments of Balochistan, and the Civil Aviation Authority were also attending.
Following discussions, the meeting proposed the construction of motorways from Peshawar to DI Khan (320 km), Swat Expressway from Chakdara to Fatehpur Phase II (182 km), and Dir Expressway (30 km). Pakistani side provided briefings on the ML-1 project, Karachi Circular Railway, Peshawar Circular Railway, and Quetta Mass Transit Project. Projects in Chitral-Shandoor-Gilgit, Nokundi-Mashkhel-Panjgur, and Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Mansehra were also addressed.
Secretary of Communications Zafar Hassan said that CPEC is the sight of the management of both neighboring countries. It suggested the inclusion of Chitral to Chakdara Highway (N-45), linking Swat Motorway (Chakdara to Col. Sher Khan Interchange on M-1 Motorway), as part of CPEC Western Road. He said the government of Pakistan had planned for the remaining parts of Gwadar-Ratodero Motorway M-8. He wished to research certain sections of the Karakoram Highway that are plagued by landslides so that remedial steps could be formulated to ensure the smooth functioning of traffic. Terming’s communication was productive and he assumed that the meeting would remain a triumph and that its goals would be accomplished.
Chairperson of the National Highway Authority, Capt. (R) Sikander Qayyum, told the panel that projects on the Sukkur-Multan Motorway and Havelian-Thakot Motorway have been completed within a consistent time frame of quality construction. He said that the 136 km long Thakot-Raikot segment of the Karakoram Highway was a significant link and that TOR had been approved to employ a contractor for reorganization. He reiterated the need to update the D.I. Khan-Zhob Section is a priority.