BEIJING:Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday asked the participant countries of the Belt and Road Initiative to join hands in fighting climate change by planting 100 billion trees, establish tourism corridor and combat corruption.
Addressing the Opening Ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation here at the China National Convention Center, the Prime Minister suggested a five-point road map to direct efforts and focus on the peoples of the participating countries, and towards addressing impediments on their way to sustainable growth.
Speaking on the theme of “Shaping a Brighter Future”, Prime Minister Imran Khan told the gathering comprising around 37 world leaders the urgency to create a poverty alleviation fund and the importance of efforts to further liberalize trade and investment flows.
The three-day meeting is being attended by leaders including Russian president Vladimir Putin, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, UK chancellor Philip Hammond, and the heads of state of the 10 Asean – Association of South-east Asian Nation states, besides over 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries. The United States has sent a low-level delegation, while India opted not to attend.
Prime Minister Imran Khan used the occasion to invite the foreign leaders and delegates to avail of Pakistan’s liberal foreign investment regime. he urged them to focus in particular on infrastructure, railways, dams, IT and manufacturing.
Prime Minister Imran Khan elaborating his five-points called for joint efforts to mitigate climate change. He recalled how the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has successfully planted a billion trees and said that the President of Chile has also mentioned this initiative.
“We launched a nationwide project to plant 10 billion trees. I suggest we launch a joint project to plant 100 billion trees in the next two years, so that we can mitigate the effects of climate change for our coming generations.”
Imran Khan who has been very vocal about encouraging tourism in the country suggested establishment of a BRI Tourism Corridor to promote people-to-people contacts and inter-cultural understanding.
The Prime Minister also suggested setting up of an office of Anti-Corruption Cooperation to combat the scourge of white-collar crime. Khan who won a popular vote in recent general election on the promise to combat corruption pointed to the world leaders that “White-collar crimes are devastating the world.”
Speaking about the importance of fighting poverty, Imran Khan spoke for creating a Poverty Alleviation Fund that can supplements national efforts in the fight against poverty and malnourishment.
“In Pakistan, we have recently launched a targeted poverty alleviation programme called Ehsas, or feeling.”
He said it was aimed at emulating China’s spectacular success in lifting 800 million people out of poverty within a matter of decades.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also called for making concerted efforts to further liberalize trade and investment flows encouraging our private sector and businesses to collaborate in projects.
The Prime Minister congratulated President Xi Jinping and the government of People’s Republic of China for organizing the important event and said as the Belt and Road transforms from vision into reality, the gathering has provided a useful platform for taking stock and setting the agenda.
“In a world of geopolitical uncertainty, of rising inequality and barriers to trade, the BRI offers a model of collaboration, partnership, connectivity and shared prosperity,” Khan said.
He said the BRI marks a new and distinct phase in the onward march of nations of the world along the path of globalization.
“The presence of so many world leaders today is proof that we choose hope over despair and cooperation over confrontation.”
Imran Khan said 122 States and 49 International Organizations have signed on to BRI’s vision and described it a historic and monumental development.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan was proud to have partnered and pioneered with China in this transformational endeavour. “We have been among BRI’s earliest and most enthusiastic proponents.”
He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, one of BRI’s major components and one of its earliest manifestations, has made substantial progress. “Pakistan’s energy supplies have increased massively. Our critical infrastructure gaps are being plugged.
Gwadar, once a small fishing village, is transforming rapidly into a commercial hub.” Imran Khan said the Gwadar Airport will be the largest in the country.
Khan said together, Pakistan and China were entering the next phase of CPEC, with greater emphasis on socioeconomic uplift, poverty alleviation, agricultural cooperation and industrial development. “We are expanding the frontiers of knowledge through closer engagement and deeper cooperation in the fields of education, innovation and technology.”
He said Special Economic Zones were being set up, along the length of the Corridor, and would offer opportunities for investments for Pakistani, Chinese and foreign entrepreneurs.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said supplementing the next phase of CPEC, the two countries would sign an expanded Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement.
“We are changing Pakistan’s economic landscape and Insha-Allah the destiny of our people. I want to thank China and its leadership for their unwavering support for Pakistan,” Imran Khan said.
“Our deep-rooted friendship, partnership and brotherhood with China remains strong, resilient and unbreakable, standing tall in the face of every challenge.”
Imran Khan said China’s marvelous civilization has given the world wisdom, harmony and prosperity. “It has gifted to humanity, great inventions, art and aesthetics and a culture of compassion and co-existence”, and recalled the famous Chinese proverb; ‘The Ocean is vast because it rejects no rivers.’
He said Pakistan will continue to work on the basis of mutual respect and equal opportunity, with China and other BRI partners, for a better future of our people.
“Pakistan will partner with all those who share the vision for a peaceful and prosperous world. We will work together to realize a future of hope and happiness,” Imran Khan told the gathering.