Prime Minister launches CPEC OPC project

WEB DESK: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would not only bring prosperity to the region but also help put an end to extremism and terrorism.

Addressing the ground breaking of the 820km long Optic Fibre Cable linkage between Khunjrab and Rawalpindi, the Prime Minister also directed extending its linkages to other CPEC project areas. The PM said the world has transformed over the years and now “Knowledge-based economy” was the buzzword. He urged the youth, particularly of Gilgit and Baltistan to get ready for the challenges ahead and strive for excellence.

He also announced setting up of a Technical Training Institute by the Special Communication Organisation (SCO) and offered an initial grant of Rs 100 million. The project which is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was first envisioned during visit of President Hu Jintao’s to Islamabad in 2006, and MoU was inked in 2007.

It is the first IT and telecom project being executed under CPEC and would also be the first land based inter connection between the two neighbouring countries. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who is here on a daylong visit addressing the gathering said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would not only link Pakistan with China, but would also link the two countries to the Central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and the region.

The Prime Minister said that never in the past such huge projects were launched and said his government was committed to complete the affiliated projects within the stipulated time. He said the CPEC would also link northern Pakistan to the south and open up new areas for progress and development. Prime Minister Sharif said the objective of his government was to bring economic stability to the country, end poverty and generate employment.

The Prime Minister was also appreciative of the role of the SCO in providing a communication linkage in the remotest areas of the country and urged it to work harder for the provision of much better services. With a total stretch of 820 kilometers, the optical fibre would start from Khunjrab and culminate at Rawalpindi backed up by a high capacity microwave link. The project would help establish alternate international connectivity for both the countries to address prolonged communication outages due to disruptions in submarine cables. The project would be completed within two years against a cost of US $44 million.

The Special Communication Organisation has signed agreement with Chinese firm M/s H to execute the project. Starting from Khunjrab, the OFC will pass through Karimabad, Gilgit, Chilas, Naran, Mansehra, Hassanabadal and will culminate at Rawalpindi.

Plans are also in final stage for extension of OFC network to Gwadar and Karachi for complete end to end international connectivity along the CPEC routes. DG SCO Major General Amir Azeem Bajwa said the organisation has been serving the nation for the past 40 years in most difficult terrain. He said the SCO has made a comprehensive strategy to make the project a success in view of the terrain. He said the project would turn the route into a digital corridor and provide high speed connectivity. He said it would also add around Rs 2 billion annually to national exchequer.

President H Middle East Region He Tao termed it a strategic and important project for two countries and hoped it would help the two countries come closer.

Source: Business recorder