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In a first, Baloch, Pashtun Nationalists vow to support CPEC projects

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  • Balochistan, KP nationalists vow to stand by Beijing Declaration
  • NP leader urges adjustments in CPEC projects to facilitate Gwadar fishermen
  • Political leaders call for early completion of CPEC’s western route

ISLAMABAD – In a rare support to multi-billion-dollar China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the senior leaders of major nationalist political parties of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on Sunday announced unconditional support to the game-changing project and vowed to stand by the Beijing Declaration.

The Beijing Declaration was signed last week by the representatives of the Political Parties of China and Pakistan at the First Meeting of Joint Consultation Mechanism (JCM) at Beijing.

Previously, the nationalist leaders had expressed reservations over CPEC route and the allocation of funds and had asked the governments of both countries to declare and complete the western route as the official route of the corridor because it was the shortest route between Gwadar Port and China’s special economic zone (SEZ) in Kashgar.

Talking exclusively to Pakistan Today here at a special sitting, Balochistan Governor Amanullah Khan Yasinzai, senior leadership of National Party (NP), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), Awami National Party (ANP), Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) and others vowed to stand by the consensus on CPEC in line with the spirit of recently-agreed unanimous declaration of joint consultation mechanism (JCM) between political parties of Pakistan and China.

Governor Yasinzai said that JCM was the prime example of a mechanism that political parties should follow to support national issues. Referring to the joint declaration at Beijing conclave hosted by the International Department of Communist Party of China (IDCPC), he said that Chinese minister Song Tao had assured full cooperation for the development of less developed areas of both provinces.

He said that the political consensus would aid in speeding up CPEC projects in both provinces, thus enabling the young skilled workers to benefit from new jobs. He said that there was a need to promote cooperation between the universities of Balochistan and China as it would help build a knowledge-based society in Pakistan’s largest province. He said that he was keen on the establishment of vocational training institutes in Quetta and Gwadar which would help impart modern skills and training on the local youth.

“Chinese authorities have assured us that under the next phase of CPEC, there will be a greater focus on development projects in Balochistan and KP which is good news for our youth,” he said.

NP Secretary-General Jan Mohammad Buledi said that JCM had unanimously vowed to support CPEC projects and this political consensus should now usher in the development of infrastructure and employment projects across Balochistan.

“The people of Balochistan have been ignored in the past. Now that CPEC has brought an opportunity for the people of both these provinces, we hope that the federal and provincial governments would ensure that the people benefit from CPEC,” he said. He also said that he had shared some observations over the planning of some projects in Gwadar which needed to be reviewed by the authorities of both countries.

“Gwadar Eastbay Expressway has blocked the access of local fishermen to the sea which is a problem because this is their only source of income. We have been assured that measures would be taken to address the issues facing the local inhabitants,” he said.

KP Member of Provincial Assembly (MPA) Ibrahim Khattak said that CPEC emerged as an opportunity for the people of KP who have faced terrorism for a long time.

“Terrorism harmed KP and Balochistan and destroyed the infrastructure of both provinces. CPEC, however, has breathed a fresh life to KP’s fortunes. Rashakai Special Economic Zone would soon be completed to become the first SEZ of Pakistan under CPEC and it reflects how the corridor would benefit the people,” he said. He also called for priority to be given to student exchange programme and employment opportunities for youth.

KP MPA Ahmed Khan Kundi, who is a member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), said that both provinces form the western part of the country and constitute more than half of Pakistani territory. These areas had been ignored in the past and they should be given due priority in the second phase of CPEC.

PkMAP’s Zakir Khan Kasi was of the view that there is a need for transparency and accountability in CPEC projects. “There is a need for the appointment of good managers for CPEC projects so that CPEC could be protected from all controversies,” he said.

PkMAP MPA Nasrullah Baraich said that his party stands by the JCM agreement and hopes that both countries would focus on the development of Balochistan’s ignored areas.

“We need to understand that CPEC’s success is connected to peace in Afghanistan, therefore, both Pakistan and China should focus on the Afghan peace process as well,” he said.

Shagufta Malik, an ANP lawmaker from KP, said that her party is fully supporting CPEC. She also said that there was a need to shift focus on the immediate completion of CPEC’s western routes as it was the shortest link between Pakistan and China.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Mahmood Ahmed Bhittanni said that the western districts of KP should get a lion’s share of KP’s allocation of CPEC projects as more employment in areas lying outside CPEC route would bring peace and stability.

BAP leader and younger brother of Nawab of Kalat, Prince Omar Khan stressed on the promotion of people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and China. “We will support CPEC projects with our lives, with our tribes,” he said, adding that the fruits of CPEC should also trickle down to the ignored people of Balochistan as well.

BNP-Mngal lawmaker Akbar Mengal said that CPEC should be made people-friendly and for this purpose, youth engagement should be given top priority. He said that the political parties of Balochistan unanimously supported CPEC.

Faisal Hayat Khan was of the view that CPEC was a mutually beneficial project for both Pakistan and China and it can constitute a win-win collaboration between the two nations.

Bilal Durrani said that people to people contacts between the two states was need of the hour and hence youth should be given more opportunities under the people exchange program.

Senior journalist Javed Afridi said that there was a dire need to start CPEC projects in tribal areas where unemployed youth could be provided more opportunities.

Mohammad Khaliq Khan was of the view that CPEC was need of hour and its projects should target neglected areas of KP where terrorism had wreaked havoc.

Ali Qaisar urged promotion of entrepreneurship under the CPEC initiative so as younger generation could reap the fruits of CPEC. He urged China and Pakistan to introduce business-friendly visa regimes between the two sister countries so as the young entrepreneurs could reap dividends of the CPEC.

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Miami’s top architect Kobi Karp enters Pakistani market

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ISLAMABAD: Miami’s leading architect Kobi Karp the name behind some of Miami’s most iconic developments including the Four Seasons Private Residences and the Legacy Tower, South Beach has completed the designs for the $30 Million luxury residential tower One Canal Road by Diyar Homes.

One Canal Road, Lahore, Diyar Homes designed by Kobi Karp architects

The design includes in excess of 25,000 square feet of amenity space finished with the finest VERSACE ceramics by the leading Italian design house and includes a sky pool which will be amongst Lahore’s highest above the penthouse floor of the building.

Commenting on the design of the project from an exclusive press conference in London’s plush Grosvenor House, Hotel on Park Lane, Kobi said “I have designed One Canal Road to the highest of international standards, the development rivals any of the best buildings I have designed in Miami or the Middle-East. One Canal Road will be an icon in Lahore’s skyline”.

Kobi Karp addressing Diyár Press Conference at Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

Kobi Karp architects are Miami’s leading design studio, a multi award winning practice that have been involved in projects across the world including some of the most iconic developments in Miami including Astor & Edison Hotels, Palazzo Del Sol, Four Seasons Private Residences and private luxury homes for the likes of NBA start Juwan Howard and landmark developments in the Middle-East in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Kobi Karp offices in Miami

Further adding Kobi said “It’s an honour to work on our first project in Pakistan and in a location of this kind at the heart of Lahore, I don’t think we could have had a better project and developer (Diyar Homes) to start with in Pakistan. For me great architecture is the crossover over between design and art. At Kobi Karp Architects we create timeless landmark architecture that stands the test of time. One Canal Road will be a landmark in Lahore”.

One Canal Road looking on to Gaddafi Stadium and Gulberg, Lahore.

On his vision for One Canal Road Kobi added, “Every part of One Canal Road has been planned with exceptional attention to detail, from capitalising on the 360 degree views a location of this kind boasts, to the hotel style 6500 square foot lobby with 28 feet high ceilings, to the fitness centre, spa, and sky pool every inch of this development has been planned to create the penultimate luxury residential address in Lahore”.

Sky Villa at One Canal Road priced at over $2 Million poised to be the most expensive apartment in Lahore

Discussing the amenities Kobi said “Our amenities are en-par with the most luxury hospitality sector 5* hotel projects I have done across the world. With over 25,000 square feet of amenities and only 111 luxury residences One Canal Road presents the pinnacle of luxury living”.

Sky pool at One Canal Road by Diyar Homes.
Luxury residents’ private fitness suite


Luxury residents private fitness suite.

Residents private theatre
Four Seasons Private Residences, Fort Lauderdale designed by Kobi Karp architects

One Canal Road, Lahore is a $30 Million project by UAE based Diyar Homes. Diyar recently announced a collaboration with VERSACE ceramics as Lahore’s first project where finishing of floors and walls will be by the leading Italian design house.

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Pakistan records 70 per cent rise in exports to China

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Pakistan enjoys zero duties on exports of hundreds of products to China under free trade deal

ISLAMABAD – In a major development, Pakistan has recorded nearly 70% increase in exports to China in the first quarter of 2021, an official has told media.

“Impressive figures of Pakistan’s exports to China in 1st quarter of year 2021. $888 million as compared to 2020′ Q1 $526 million. An increase of 69%,” Moin ul Haque, Pakistan’s ambassador to China, said on Twitter.

Haque praised his team for, encouraging for more: “Let us keep this momentum to achieve a historic record in 2021.”

Last year, phase two of the much-touted China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement came into effect, which now allows Pakistani manufacturers and traders to export around 313 new products to the Chinese market with zero duties.

Pakistan is already enjoying zero duties on exports of 724 products to China under the first free trade pact signed between the two countries in 2006. After implementation of the second pact, Pakistan has been now allowed to export more than 1,000 products to China with zero duties. The new facility is particularly benefiting the agriculture, leather, confectionary items, and biscuits product sectors as well.

In 2019, Pakistan also signed an agreement with China to use Chinese currency for bilateral trade to get rid of the dollar burden in $15 billion bilateral trade.

According to official data, Pakistan and China’s bilateral trade volume grew to some $15.6 billion in the 2019 fiscal year, up from $2.2 billion in 2005.

The two longtime allies are also partners in the multi-million-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious project to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks to boost trade and stimulate economic growth.

The $64 billion mega-project signed in 2014 aims to connect China’s strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to the Gwadar port in southern Pakistan through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.

The economic corridor will not only provide China with cheaper access to Africa and Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.

Exports to other countries

Despite rise in exports to China, Pakistan has witnessed fall in exports to its western neighbour Afghanistan and other regional countries apparently due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic during past year.

The country’s exports to Afghanistan fell 5.57% to $746.3 million over the last nine month of fiscal year 2021, compared to $790.3 million during the same period of last year, according to leading daily Dawn.

A few years ago, Afghanistan was the second-major export destination for Pakistan after the US.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s exports to India also plunged 90.5% to $2.2 million this year from $23.1 a year earlier, according to the report.

Islamabad’s exports in 2020 dropped by over 90% to $28 million from $311 million in 2019, following suspended trade and diplomatic ties with India after New Delhi’s move to scrap the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir.

However, Pakistan’s exports to Japan and some central Asian countries witnessed an increase.

Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to Pakistani premier on commerce and investment, said in a statement that Islamabad’s exports to Japan grew by 47% to $86.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021.

“The exports of seafood, petroleum, dry fruits, spices, minerals, woven fabric, knitted garments, sports goods, cutlery & dates increased,” he said.

The official also said that Pakistan’s exports in April also stood at $2.19 million.

“This is the first time since 2011 that our monthly exports have crossed the 2-billion mark for seven consecutive months,” Dawood stated.

However, he said, “the export growth of 129% over Apr-2020 cannot be taken into account due to lockdown last year.”

The country’s exports from July 2020 to April 2021 rose by 13% to $20.8 billion compared to $18.4 billion year-on-year, Dawood noted.

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Another 0.5 Million SinoVac doses arrive from China   

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Vaccine arrives as Pakistan gears up to provide vaccine jabs to people at large

ISLAMABAD – A special plane of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) carrying 0.5 Million consignment of SinoVac Vaccine arrived here at NurKhan Airbase Islamabad from China on Thursday. The consignment is procured on payment from China.

The consignment arrives as Pakistan gears up to provide vaccine jabs to all its people across country after Eid-ul-Fitr. SinoVac vaccine has been tested in Pakistan’s three major cities including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore and has proved its worth.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned an emergent meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for COVID-19 on Friday as key decisions are expected from the meeting in the wake of rising coronavirus cases and deaths across country.

Sources have told DiploMag that the meeting chaired by Prime Minister will be attended by federal ministers, chief ministers and chief secretaries of the four provinces. The meeting will review the situation in Coronavirus Pandemic across the country.

Sources in the federal government have informed this correspondent that the meeting chaired by the Prime Minister would evaluate its options to counter the recent spike in infections of Covid-19. Over the past week or so, the average cases across country stand at 11 percent and the numbers are not dropping down from five thousand new infections on a daily-basis.

The sources said that the meeting led by prime minister would discuss the possibility of imposition of lockdown in major cities of the country with a rate of more than ten percent, while business activities in major cities and areas could be suspended and offices closed.

It is said that the decision of lockdown is likely in the cities of Corona with a rate of more than ten percent. Businesses are likely to be suspended and offices closed in the lockdown cities and areas.

The NCC will give final approval to the lockdown decision in the most affected cities. On the other hand, according to the data released by the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), 57,591 Coronavirus tests were conducted during the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of code 19 tests to 1137,742. A further 5,857 positive cases have been reported.

Thus, the number of certified corona patients in Pakistan has reached 778,238. So far, 275,081 in Sindh, 279,437 in Punjab, 19,704 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 71,533 in Islamabad, 21,242 in Balochistan, 16,026 in Azad Kashmir and 16,026 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Coronavirus Pandemic has been diagnosed in 5,215 people. Similarly, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar has already warned that big cities are not being closed yet but caution has not been observed during the third wave of the pandemic.

“If SOPs are not followed by the people, then big cities will have to be shutdown under lockdown,” Asad Umar warned.

 

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