China had strictly adhered to its commitment for
financial and technical assistance
Jan-28 - Feb-03, 2002
Chinese experts are already in Pakistan giving
final touches to the Master Plan for the construction of a deep sea
port at Gawadar along the Arabian Sea and formal ground breaking
ceremony is likely to be held on March 23, 2002.
This was disclosed by the Communication Minister
Javed Ashraf Qazi, putting at rest the rumours that Gawadar Port
project has been shelved by the Pakistan government because of the
opposition of US. The Minister was talking to the newsmen informally
at a function in Islamabad last week.
He said that China had strictly adhered to its
commitment for financial and technical assistance in the construction
of the Gawadar deep sea port. Expected to be completed in two phases,
the port will provide housing, transshipment, commercial and
industrial facilities for international import and export trade with
Afghanistan, Central Asian States, Gulf States, East Africa, Red Sea
countries and Sri Lanka, through Pakistan.
He said that Balochistan government has already
allotted about 18,000 hectares of land, free of cost, for the port
construction with ultra modern amenities and facilities for promotion
of trade, commerce and industry via sea and overland. There are also
plans for railroad network with Gawadar. 653 km long road is already
under construction at a cost of over Rs. 11 billion, linking Gawadar
with Karachi on one side, while with Jiwani near Iran on the other.
Besides this coastal highway, Pakistan Railways
also plans to provide a rail link from Gawadar to Taftan (Iranian
border) via Saindak, site for Pakistan's first metallurgical project.
This Saindak copper-gold project stands completed since November 1995.
It is awaiting commercial production for want of Rs. 1.5 bn, which
China has now pledged for its successful commission. The source said
that with the availability of funds and technical manpower from China,
Saindak project would be productive in about six months time.
The fact that China is Pakistan's tested and tried
friend needs no reiteration as it has been proved time and again in
the past. China has not only supported Pakistan in world politics, it
has lent commendable support in building and updating our defence
system and sustained economic development.
Pak-China cooperation in economic field is
expanding rapidly in various sectors. The two countries have also
signed a formal 350 million dollar contract for development of Saindak
Copper and Gold mines project in Balochistan. A Chinese firm has
earned the contract to develop and operate the project for a period of
ten years. The contract has been finalised in the light of the
agreement signed during the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Ahu Rongji
to Pakistan last May. Pakistan Petroleum Minister Usman Aminuddin, who
was present at the contract signing ceremony in Beijing hoped that the
Saindak project, which was stuck up for the last five years due to
lack of funds, will be reactivated now with the help of the Chinese
President Pervez Musharraf undertook a crucial
5-day visit to China early this month. This visit was crucial for many
reasons. He arrived in Beijing when tension with India has reached the
highest point after Kargil and despite US and China calling upon New
Delhi to exercise restraint, hawks like L.K. Advani continued to talk
about hot pursuit across the LoC. Pakistan's security problem has been
further complicated by the US anti-Al-Qaeda operation in Afghanistan
which has forced Islamabad to transfer a large part of its regular
forces to the long and porous border with Afghanistan weakening its
defences on the LoC and the international border with India.
China has, however, always shown understanding to
the limitation and compulsions of Pakistan and has never made any
demand from its weaker friend which appeared beyond its capacity. It
has shown this understanding time and again. This has been evident in
the way China has always come to Pakistan's rescue in times of
economic distress. In the last about five years, China's generous
balance of payments support to Pakistan had gone a long way in keeping
Islamabad economically afloat. True to the pattern, on the very first
day of President General Pervez Musharraf's current five-day visit to
China, Beijing once again lived up to its reputation of being generous
when it came to offering economic support to Pakistan — by extending
the maturities of past balance of payments support to a medium term.
Until this year, the balance of payments support loans used to be
renewed annually. In addition, China has offered Pakistan a grant of
100 million dollars and concessional financing for a number of
projects amounting to a total of 260 million dollars.
Seven agreements were signed on the first day of
President Musharraf's five-day state visit, which will further promote
economic development and science and technology in Pakistan. Both the
Presidents along with their respective delegations were present on the
occasion and witnessed the signing ceremony.
The first agreement regarding Chinese grant
assistance to Pakistan was signed by the Minister for Finance Shaukat
Aziz while the Chinese Minister for Foreign and Economic Cooperation
signed from the Chinese side.
The second agreement on concessional loan for
implementation of Saindak project was signed by Minister for Petroleum
and Natural Resources Usman Aminuddin while the National Resources
Minister of China signed on behalf of China.
The third agreement regarding joint revolving fund
for research and development in the field of science and technology
was signed by the Pakistan Ambassador in China, Riaz Khokhar, while
the Chinese side was led by the Chief of China Bank.
The other agreements regarding extension of 500kv
Muzaffargarh and Ghatti transmission lines and Jinnah hydropower
project were signed by the Pakistan Ambassador in China while the
concerned officials of Chinese government signed on behalf of their
respective side. The Chinese government has extended a $100 million
grant to Pakistan for various projects. Then there is $200 million of
concessional financing. In addition there are several projects
totaling $250 million which they are financing. These include hydel
power stations, sub-stations for Wapda and transmission lines.