Distinguished Mr. Yang Jiechi, State Councilor of China,
Respected Mr. Zhang Guobao, Chairman Advisory Board, National Energy Commission of China
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to thank the organizers for arranging this important session on the Silk Road, at the Boao Forum.
For me, participation in this session is a source of “double happiness” – or, as our Chinese friends say, “Xuang Xi”.
The first “happiness” is the privilege of listening to insightful presentations, which are offering a fresh perspective on the subject.
The second “happiness” is a sense of satisfaction that the concept of Silk Road found in old chronicles, fables and fairy tales, has evolved to become an important policy instrument on regional connectivity and regional integration.
So let me at the outset convey Xuang Xi to our Chinese hosts.
We should also thank President Xi Jinping, for proposing a visionary concept of the New Silk Road last year, and renewing everyone’s interest in the subject.
As a country located at the Southern edge of the New Silk Road, Pakistan recognizes that political and economic dividends of this vision are unparalleled, both in scale and potential.
As the old Silk Road connected different regions and civilizations, the New Silk Road will enable their mutual trade, economic growth and prosperity.
I, however, believe that reviving the Silk Road in today’s world of passports, visas and intricate tariff manuals, requires ingenuity both in policy formulation and policy application.
Such ingenuity can be based on the following four elements:
One,promote mutual understanding, cooperation and goodwill among relevant countries. The old Silk Road thrived on the spirit of win-win cooperation. Reviving the Silk Road would require mutually beneficial endeavors in peaceful and secure settings.
Two, promote regional coordination to introduce cohesive laws and regulations regarding movement of humans and merchandize, taxation policies and tariff/non-tariff barriers.
Three, improve regional infrastructure for better connectivity - by building better transport networks, including roads, motorways, railways and air links.
Four, ease convertibility of currencies and promote uniformity in financial and banking sectors to further promote grass root exchange.
With a concerted focus on the above points, we can ensure a swift revival of the Silk Road -- at par with its past glory.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pakistan’s geographical location supplements the potential of the Silk Road and enhances the scope of its revival.
Our geography links China and the New Silk Road to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. This is the linear dimension of our relevance with the Silk Road.
We are at the confluence of China, the Eurasian land-bridge and the Middle East. This enables us to be en route to a three-pronged economic corridor between China, Central Asia and the Middle East. This is the triangular dimension of our relevance with the Silk Road.
Pakistan’s long coastline also makes our ports of Karachi and Gwadar as a strategic transit on the maritime Silk Road.
In view of our relevance to the Silk Road and long standing relations, Pakistan and China are active partners in reviving this concept, in all its dimensions. Work, in this regard, has already commenced since our two new governments assumed office in respective countries last year.
The Pakistan-China Economic Corridor is the southern extension of the New Silk Road. In the course of the last ten months, the two countries have achieved a broad consensus on planning various infrastructure and energy projects under the rubric of the Economic Corridor. I am certain the same spirit of cooperation will continue as we move from planning to implementation phase.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an instrument for alleviating poverty for millions of people -- by providing alternate sources of livelihood.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Pakistan realizes that partnership in the Silk Road would entail a robust infrastructure, regular energy supply and improved overall governance. We have positioned ourselves to fulfill these yardsticks.
In the first year in office, we have already sought to improve governance and undertaken sound economic policies.
We started off last year by clearing liabilities in the electricity sector, to reduce the acute energy shortfall. Parallel to that, we embarked upon an economic rebuilding plan. We presented an austerity budget by cutting wasteful and unnecessary expenditure, abolished discretionary grants and minimized subsides.
To increase the business footprint in the country, we have a deregulation plan in place that includes a greater role of private equity in business.
With improved economic prospects, we are now in a position to undertake important projects in energy and infrastructure.
In terms of ease of business, Pakistan ranks the highest in our region.
Investing in Pakistan is like revival of Silk Road.
We welcome finances and expertise in Pakistan -- from China and from wider Asia, both in public and private sectors.
I assure full security to human and financial resources invested in Pakistan, as well as healthy dividends on your investment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To achieve an efficient Silk Road, we should invest in peace and mutually benefiting diplomacy.
We must strengthen bilateral and multilateral mechanisms, to settle outstanding disputes, through peaceful means.
We believe that the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), with its diverse membership and strong institutional framework, is well positioned to promote peace and security, in our wider neighbourhood.
In our decade-old engagement with the SCO, we have observed that the organization is playing an important role in settling disputes and managing conflicts.
By virtue of its contribution to regional peace and security, the SCO would remain an indispensable plank for mustering regional security – thereby helping to revive the Silk Road.
Ladies and Gentleman,
Human civilization in ancient and medieval times thrived on the Silk Road, by transcending barriers of geography, culture, ethnicity and politics. Our forefathers achieved this while riding camels and horses. With today’s scientific progress, we face much lesser challenges. We must, therefore, strive with resolve to revive the Silk Road.
In our common endeavor of reviving the Silk Road, Pakistan will be a steadfast partner of China and the region.
I thank you