Prime Minister’s statement at the dialogue on ‘strengthening connectivity partnership

November 08, 2014

Honourable President Xi Jinping,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is indeed a great pleasure and honor for me to be here this evening for this august gathering. China has taken a remarkable initiative in hosting today’s Dialogue on “Strengthening Connectivity Partnership” and also in inviting leaders from Asian countries to join this Dialogue.

 

The topic of today’s Dialogue is both relevant and important, particularly since, in the present day, Asia is redefining and reinvigorating its role globally.

 

We are living in an age of globalization. Distances have not only shrunk, but also fast becoming less relevant. Newer communications technologies are fast transforming the nature and quantum of human interaction. Everything is just a click away. Nowadays, you can chat with, talk to or even video-call a person without having to know in which continent of the world she is.

 

In these extraordinary and ‘happening’ times, Asia is bursting with amazing opportunities. The growth rates of many Asian economies have been dynamic and resilient, going as high as up to 7.5 percent, despite anemic global recovery in post-2008 Global Financial Crisis. Nearly half of the global population lives in Asia. This demographic potential, combined with sound economic and social policies, could be a great source of global growth, development, and above all, peace.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

How should we then manage such a monumental transformation? How should we create economic opportunities for billions of people living in our region, and more importantly, how should we address the issues of poverty and wealth inequality? A large part of answers to all these questions lies in increasing and enhancing connectivity in our Asian countries.

 

Pakistan is already looking forward to greater regional connectivity with China and its partners in Central Asia. Soon, CASA-1000 power project between Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan will alleviate our energy shortfall to some extent. The TAPI and Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline projects are also being fast-tracked.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

We can create a massive technological and physical infrastructure within the Asian countries. One way of doing that is through adequate spending on infrastructure.    I believe that Asia would need trillions of dollars in infrastructure in the next few decades. But we have to realize that our national budgets alone cannot meet the gigantic challenge, which is why we need collective vision and leadership to pursue that task.

 

We also need to create greater co-operation and convergence to deal with the issues of liquidity, fiscal and monetary challenges, labor mobility, and a variety of challenges that would continue to bedevil us in a rapidly modernizing world.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Let me take this opportunity to thank the Chinese leadership for taking the lead in the opening of BRICS Development Bank and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Pakistan is proud to be a founding member of AIIB. I am confident that the Bank will provide enough liquidity to developing Asian economies, to help them improve their infrastructure.

 

Pakistan’s economic growth has remained steady. We recently unveiled Vision-2025, which will provide a solid platform for the revival of sustainable and inclusive growth. The up-gradation of the Karakoram Highway with the help of our Chinese friends is making trade increasingly easier. Our warm waters are the quickest maritime trade route to and from Europe.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Let me here briefly touch on Pakistan’s desire for infrastructure development and China’s role in helping Pakistan meet its development needs.

Pakistan’s population is touching nearly 200 million. Our stock exchange market has done extremely well in the past few years. Despite the challenge of terrorism, Pakistan’s economic growth has done quite well. We have a growing middle-class, dynamic and industrious people, good infrastructure and outstanding universities and research centers. My country is blessed with physical resources and occupies an important geographical location.

 

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, linking China’s West to Pakistan’s Southern port of Gwadar in close proximity to the Middle East, is a flagship project which both governments are pursuing vigorously. Considerable progress has been made to identify Early Harvest Projects for implementation. We have successfully fast-tracked the agreed projects and have signed critical and important agreements as recently as this morning.

Pakistan views the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as a catalyst for the development of our two countries and for regional economic cooperation, which reflects President Xi Jinping’s vision of building a Silk Road Economic Belt and a Maritime Silk Road.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

In conclusion, I would emphasize that for the people to absorb the idea of ‘connectivity’, it has to go beyond material goals. It must harmonize with deeper human values. People-to-people connectivity remains as important as material connectivity, if not more.

Ideas matter more than bricks and mortar. So we, the Asian leaders, must also make genuine and sincere efforts for our societies and our people to have greater cultural, historical, and ideological understanding of each other.

 

I thank you and hope that today’s Dialogue will open the doors for a better, prosperous and secure future for us all.