October 10 , 2017

Shahbaz dismisses US apprehensions about OBOR, CPEC

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has dismissed the US defence secretary's apprehensions about OBOR and CPEC projects and termed these initiatives of China to share knowledge, resources and prosperity with 65 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa "highly commendable".

He said the initiatives like OBOR and CPEC that aimed to end poverty of over 800 million people through shared prosperity should be welcomed and not rejected by a developed country like the US. He said an ill-founded opposition aimed at creating uncertainty about the grand projects was no service to global peace and development.

He said poverty, inequality and underdevelopment were shared challenges of the whole South Asia, adding that the OBOR and the CPEC promised to address these questions by creating a community of shared prosperity. It was important to avoid raising doubts about these global initiatives seeking empowerment of people.

Highlighting the OBOR significance, he recalled the Chinese president's words at the recent OBOR summit that the OBOR aimed at harmonious coexistence without any geopolitical agenda. "It is highly unfair to label the OBOR as isolationist or with any peculiar agenda and global powers should encourage its development by resolving regional disputes," he opined.

He said ever since the launch of the OBOR, the total trade between China and other Belt and Road countries in 2014-2016 exceeded $3 trillion. Chinese investments in OBOR countries exceeded $50 billion and China's total investment under the OBOR was envisaged at over $1 trillion.

He said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project alone was worth over $60 billion and estimated to exceed $100 billion. "Already around 2,000MW electricity under the CPEC had been added to the national grid in Pakistan and a total of 19 projects were at different stages including the mass transit train system called the Orange Line," he said.

He said the OBOR was now a global reality that was under way with formal cooperation between over 100 countries and international organizations, which attended the OBOR summit this year including the US. He said important resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council contained reference to the OBOR and the Chinese president in his OBOR summit speech had said that the OBOR was open to all countries and had invited countries from Asia, Europe and Americas to join it. "This global initiative aimed at economic uplift of all countries should be applauded and facilitated rather than being criticized and rejected," he said.

The chief minister said the people of Pakistan and all elements of national opinion had consensus on the CPEC being a game-changer for Pakistan’s economy and polity. The nation was ready to foil any conspiracy against this project of vital significance with the power of unity.

Meanwhile, the CM paid tribute to Lt Gen Sadiq Ali for rendering his duties in a professional manner as corps commander Lahore and expressed good wishes for his future responsibilities. Sadiq paid a farewell call on Shehbaz Sharif in Lahore on Monday. The CM said the nation was proud of brave armed forces of Pakistan who wrote a new history in the war against terrorism. He said the officers and Jawans of the Pak Army rendered invaluable services for peace. Due to the blood of martyrs, peace was maintained in Pakistan today. He said wonderful successes were achieved in the war against terrorism due to concurred decisions made by the political and military leadership and added that this war was a battle of survival for Pakistan that would be won through unity.

Later, Shahbaz visited the camp office of the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) at Kamahan and inspected the progress of the Lahore Ring Road Southern Loop project. He met FWO Director General Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal and chaired a meeting at the camp office. The Lahore commissioner and the DC were present.

Addressing the meeting, the CM said the Punjab government was working on different projects costing billions of rupees to provide latest transport facilities to the masses. The project was important in this regard, he said and added the FWO was speedily working on it. He observed that improvement in transport means promoted socio-economic activities. He said horticulture should be promoted on both sides of the road and modern technology be utilized for signboards. He said the completion of 22.4km southern loop would facilitate travelling.

On Monday, he also issued a message on the eve of the World Mental Health Day. He said the purpose of observing this day was to create awareness among people about precautionary measures and treatment of mentally-deranged patients. He said that due to rising poverty, lack of safety and education, there was an increase in the number of mentally-disturbed people. “The lack of mental health affects our social behaviour and involvement in physical exercises and recreational activities motivates human mind and soul in a positive way,” he said, adding that mind was the most important part of human body and its balanced growth was imperative for healthy life. He said a healthy man could play an active role in the overall wellbeing of the society. He said adoption of positive steps for people suffering from mental ailments was part of governmental priorities.

He said the government provided best treatment facilities to mental patients. The mental health could be improved through contentment, promotion of social contacts and simple life. “Today, we should make a commitment that coordinated efforts will be continued for the treatment and rehabilitation of people suffering from psychiatric diseases. We should also renew our commitment that all possible resources will be utilized to improve facilities available for the treatment of suffering people,” he said.



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