Beijing: After India decided to stay away from China hosted conference on One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative in Beijing which started on Sunday, Pakistan said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under the OBOR initiative was open to all countries in South Asian region.
Speaking during the conference, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, emphasized that the CPEC project must not be politicized.
“Let me make it very clear that CPEC is an economic undertaking open to all countries in the region. It has no geographical boundaries,” he said in his address at the plenary session of the high-level dialogue on Belt and Road Forum (BRF) with the theme “Cooperation for Common Prosperity” here in China’s capital.
At least 100 countries are participating in the three-day conference which includes 29 heads of the states including Russia and Turkey. India, however, on her part, stayed away from the conference.
India has strong reservation over the CPEC, a flagship project of the connectivity initiative that is expected to figure prominently in the two-day meet.
In a strongly-worded statement issued hours before the opening of the forum in the Chinese capital, India said the connectivity initiative must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“Guided by our principled position in the matter, we have been urging China to engage in a meaningful dialogue on its connectivity initiative, ‘One Belt, One Road’ which was later renamed as ‘Belt and Road Initiative’. We are awaiting a positive response from the Chinese side,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay had said in a statement.
“CPEC made Pakistan both a conduit and destination for cross-regional investment and trade.”
However, Pakistan Prime Minister called for building a peaceful, connected and caring neighbourhood by shunning mutual differences. “It is time we transcend our differences, resolve conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy, and leave a legacy of peace for future generations,” he said at the platform, with 29 heads of states and governments and 1,500 delegates in attendance.
He said that peace and development go hand in hand, and nothing can pave the path for peace and security more than economic development achieved through regional collaboration. The OBOR signifies that geo-economics must take precedence over geo-politics, and that the centre of gravity should shift from conflict to cooperation, he said.
The Pak PM added that OBOR could be regarded as a powerful tool for overcoming terrorism and extremism. “As OBOR is unfolding across continents, it is fostering inclusion, creating tolerance, and promoting acceptance of cultural diversity,” he said.
He said that CPEC was a core project of OBOR and had rightly been called its flagship for aiming to connect the neighbourhoods of East and West Asia. “CPEC made Pakistan both a conduit and destination for cross-regional investment and trade.”
Terming China as Pakistan’s close friend and trusted ally, Nawaz said that his participation at the forum was to celebrate the remarkable success of the seminal initiative of One Belt, One Road (OBOR).