Islamabad: Pakistan and China are all set to agree on the Long Term Plan that has been finalized to implement the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)  on 21st November in the official session of 7th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) in Murree. The meeting to be chaired by Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and his Chinese counterpart, among other officials, is also likely to approve the financing for three Free Special Economic Zones (SEZs), Karakorum Highway expansion, western route of the CPEC and half a dozen energy projects. History is going to be made as China and Pakistan have agreed on a long-term plan. The Chinese side has agreed to the proposals made by Pakistan and the officials would sign it today. Emphasising China’s commitment to the project, the sources said that previously the Chinese side had pitched its proposals for Pakistan’s industry and agriculture after a ten-year in-depth study. 

JCC is likely to drop the Karachi Circular Railway project that needs more homework and would be on the discussion agenda in the upcoming meeting. The sources elaborated that both sides would meet at the 7th JCC to discuss funding of several important projects, adding that the development of the SEZs is the most critical part of the Long Term Plan (LTP) of the CPEC that promises industrialization, the creation of new jobs and sustainable bilateral cooperation. It has been agreed that the China would approve funding for three special economic zones that include Rashakai Free Economic Zone, Faisalabad Free Economic Zone, and Dhabiji Economic Zone. Moreover, the high-level huddle would also approve the funding for the KKH.

Rashakai Economic Zone

Rashakai Economic Zone (REZ) is the flagship project of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC) and is spread over an area of 1000 acres. This project will be conceptualized from its initial stages by the KPEZDMC, that gives the REZ an additional benefit of being an exceptionally pre-planned economic zone of international standards.

The REZ is strategically located at M1 Motorway intersection and it is linked to the CPEC through Burhan interchange. The REZ also serves as a bridging post to northern areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and has close proximity to the Afghan border. Due to this central position of the economic zone, the company foresees it to be the imminent trade hub in the province.

The REZ will have an infrastructure of international standards, including the facility of one window operation to support the industrialists of the area. The zone enterprises will have access to all the basic amenities, like water treatment plants, vocational training facilities, state of the art IT systems, security and uninterrupted water and energy supply. The zone enterprises will relish the advantages of expo center in the residential area, which is planned by the federal government on 50 acres to promote exports of the country, particularly KP.

Karakoram Highway

The JCC would approve funding for the western route of the CPEC, terming it a move that will quell the negative propaganda about the CPEC. Commenting on the amount of funding. The JCC is likely to approve whatever summary is developed by Pakistan. The NHA has upgraded the Karakoram Highway’s Khunjerab-Raikot section of the Karakoram Highway (KKH), part of the CPEC. The 335-kilometer section of the KKH has been upgraded by China Road and Bridge Corporation at a cost of $ 510 million. The remaining portion (459 km) of the KKH, from Raikot to Islamabad, has been divided into three sub-sections: Raikot-Thakot, Thakot-Havelian, and Havelian-Islamabad.

The Thakot-Havalian section of KKH is already under construction. The ground-breaking of the 120-kilometer section was done in April 2017 this year and it is expected to be completed in 42 months at a cost of Rs 133.98 billion. Similarly, 59-km Burhan-Havelian section, also called Hazara Motorway, is being built and will be completed by the end of 2017, at cost of Rs 34 billion. The up-gradation of the KKH will not only promote tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan, but it will also boost economic activities in the area. The construction of road network at a fast pace reflects the policy of the government, not only to improve north-south connectivity but also its aim to sustain all-weather linkage to neighboring China.           

Money For Energy Projects

China has also agreed to approve funding for half a dozen energy projects at the JCC, including 1320 megawatt coal-fired power project in Rahimyar Khan. The meeting is set to approve funding for 1124 megawatts Kohala Hydropower Project. Moreover, the JCC would also approve funding for Cachu and Western Energy wind power projects to produce 50 megawatts each. The JCC would also approve 1320 megawatts coal-fired power project at Port Qasim, Karachi, which is going to be inaugurated on November 29 by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The JCC would also approve funding for 300 megawatts coal-fired power project at Gwadar; funding for Gwadar Eastbay Express Highway; New Gwadar International Airport; Pak-China Friendship Hospital; along with approval of Smart Port City Master Plan.

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