Islamabad, 25 November, 2019: “CPEC is a consensus project with all parties and stakeholders behind it. This is one issue that all of Pakistan is united on,” PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman said in response to Alice Wells statement on CPEC which has generated a strong reaction from within Pakistan as well as China.
“As far as debt is concerned I am told that we have never seen China calling in Pakistan’s debt, but really these are issues for Pakistan to decide on, no one else. It is for the people of Pakistan to ask the questions not anyone else. Experts and policymakers discuss several aspects of CPEC, including debt, in balance, but that discussion is directed at Pakistan’s larger, growing debt burden and not a “Chinese trap”. In fact, China has clearly committed to cooperating with Pakistan and not been placing the country’s finances under stress. Moreover, China is also cooperating with the IMF on Pakistan. It must be remembered that while Pakistan does have significant debt problems, they have very little to do with CPEC, which does not constitute even 10 per cent of Pakistan’s total debt. Moreover, CPEC has created nearly 70,000 direct jobs in the country so far with potential to generate over a million employment opportunities by 2030,” added the former ambassador of Pakistan to the United States.
“The statement is unfortunately timed and has only proved to create potential hurdles in bilateral ties between Pakistan and the US after government ministers came out in defence of CPEC and reinforced their commitment to the corridor,” asserted the Vice-President of the PPP.
“The Chinese ambassador has asked in the past, ‘when has China called in Pakistan’s loans?’ and rightly so. China’s government loans to Pakistan have usually come with easier repayment conditions than other loans that Pakistan has to repay,” further added the Senator.
“Pakistan wants to maintain good relations with both the US and China as both are big markets for us. It is certainly not a zero-sum game. We believe CPEC has the potential to transform not only Pakistan’s economy but the region’s as well which is why other countries have expressed their desire to be a part of it and Pakistan welcomes everyone,” said the Senator.
“It is unfortunate that the present government has not been able to manage CPEC as maturely as its predecessors had. It passed unnecessary remarks soon after coming into office and issued confusing statements about sharing details with the IMF. Even in this case, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan’s response to Alice Wells’ statement came before our foreign office responded,” said the Chair of CPEC Committee in the Senate.
She concluded, “The PPP has always tried to build consensus on national goals and it is committed to transforming Pakistan’s growth and job trajectory with projects like CPEC. We will remain in the frontline of creating and collaborating in the great CPEC venture”.