New Gwadar International Airport: Pakistan's 2nd Greenfield Class 4F Airport Nearing Completion
The architecture of the New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA) is inspired by a rising Phoenix. It is Pakistan's second greenfield airport built from scratch in a new location. With a 3,650-meter long runway, it is a Class 4F airport. NGIA is scheduled to begin test flights in December this year. The only other airport with a 3,600-meter long runway is the New Islamabad International Airport that opened for commercial flights in 2018. Karachi and Lahore international airports have runways lengths of 3,400 meters and 3,360 meters respectively, putting them in 4E class. All four of these major Pakistani airports can handle landing of Airbus A380, the largest commercial airliner in operation today.
|New Gwadar International Airport Architecture Inspired by A Rising Phoenix|
New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA) is being built in Gwadar at a cost of $246 million on an area of 4,300 acres. Construction of NGIA started in October, 2019. The entire project is being built by the state-owned China Airport Construction Company funded by a Chinese government grant. It was originally scheduled for completion in 36 months. The work was slightly delayed due to the COVID19 pandemic. It is now expected to be ready for trial flights in December, 2022.
|New Gwadar International Airport, Gwadar, Pakistan|
NGIA is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. Another key CPEC project recently completed in Gwadar is the 19-kilometer long six-lane East Bay Expressway. It was opened for traffic on June 3, 2022. East Bay Expressway connects to the Makran Coastal Highway which in turn is connected to the larger network of motorways and highways in the country as well as to China and the landlocked nations of Central Asia in CAREC.
|East Bay Expressway, Gwadar, Pakistan|
The completion of New Gwadar International Airport and East Bay Expressway is an indication that the Western and Indian media headlines about the death of CPEC are not credible. To the contrary, the continuing progress on CPEC projects confirms the strong commitment of both the Chinese and the Pakistan government to move forward with their broad-based cooperation. Just yesterday, Pakistan's new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reaffirmed that his government is determined to complete all the projects under the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said China would continue to support its companies in investing and operating in Pakistan to realize win-win results and shared development.
He pointed out that the grant is dedicated to New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA), East Bay Expressway, 300-bed China-Pakistan Friendship Hospital, China-Pakistan Vocational and Technical Training Institute, China-Pakistan Gwadar Faqeer Middle School, China-Pakistan Fraternity Emergency Center, and the 1.2 MGD desalination plant so far.
“NGIA will have the longest runway, 3.78 km, in the region, equipped with a capacity to handle the largest aircraft. The tourism sector will inevitably boom,” Mr. Zhang said. With its operationalization, new resorts will be established attracting many tourists from China and other countries, he added.
While speaking at length about the experiences of his 7 years’ stay in Gwadar, the COPHC chairman said: “We are cognizant of the fact that Gwadar deserves more rapid development to live up to the expectations of the local people. There is no denying the fact that it has developed much during the past 7 years.”
He stated three reasons for the promising prospects of Gwadar: the cooperation of the Gwadar people, its vast resources, and its strategic location. “The inhabitants of Gwadar deserve respect and development”, Mr. Zhang undercored.
Mr. Zhang made it clear that Gwadar port is fully functional. Some problems do exist like logistics and lack of market demand, however, development is an evolutionary process and Gwadar is on its way towards industrialization, he mentioned.
After the completion of M8, he said, cargos will be able to reach Lahore and other major cities, reducing the distance significantly. “4 new Chinese investors are coming to Gwadar to explore opportunities and investment potentials in the refinery, textile, petrochemical and agricultural sectors,” acclaimed the chairman.
COPHC is one of the major players in Gwadar and has undertaken remarkable steps in Gwadar’s development. “Gwadar is my second home and we are ready to collaborate with local community in educational development. We can offer exchange programs for the students and academics of Gwadar. Through the scientific research laboratory we will impart sophisticated know-how to the local youth”, Mr. Zhang pronounced. It has been observed that for the pursuit of a clean and green Gwadar, more than 50,000 plants were planted, predominantly spearheaded by COPHC.
Co-organized by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) Islamabad, University of Gwadar, and COPHC, speakers included Commodore Jawad Akhtar, Advisor Maritime Affairs, Chairman COPHC Mr. Zhang Baozhong, Chairman Gwadar Port Authority Mr. Naseer Khan Kashani, Vice-chancellor University of Gwadar Prof. Abdul Razzaq Sabir, and Chairman IPS Mr. Khalid Rehman.
The conference was followed by a round-table discussion and a detailed question and answers session. Representatives of Gwadar civil society probed into the CSR initiatives undertaken by Chinese enterprises in Gwadar which were satisfactorily responded to by the authorities of COPHC.
Eventually, the media team visited China-Pakistan Vocational and Technical Training Institute and other sites under CSR to witness the pace of progress. They interacted with the local students to observe their views. The visitors were appreciative of the efforts of Chinese companies in overhauling the healthcare and education systems and in providing job opportunities to the locals of Gwadar.
Iqbal remarked that work on water supply scheme in Gwadar will be completed by September this year while the 1.2 million gallon per day de-salination plant work will be completed by October to solve water issue in Gwadar.
He elaborated that 65 percent funding of the project will be made by the federal government while 35 percent will be borne by the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
He underlined that the new Gwadar International airport will also be completed by March next year.
Ahsan Iqbal said CDWP had also accorded approval to a project for provision of water to southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Minister stated that Chaman-Quetta, and Karachi road N-25 dualization project had also been approved. He said roads infrastructure in Balochistan has been prioritized in the upcoming budget which was aimed at providing a well laid network of roads in the province to help provide people with better health, employment and education opportunities.
Speaking at a news conference here, he mentioned that during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's recent visit to Balochistan and his meeting with Chinese investors, the Chinese companies had shown interest in investments in Gwadar.
The minister reiterated that the government was according topmost priority to speeding up work on projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Briefing the journalists on different projects approved by Central Development Working Party (CDWP), he informed that a power project at Diamer Bhasha dam worth Pakistani Rs900 billion had also been approved.
Case in point -
1. Chinese ghost cities
2. Chinese HSR network (everywhere) which are now starting to look like self inflicted debt traps
There are examples everywhere - especially in China. I’m not saying infrastructure projects are bad. But pointless ‘white elephant’ infrastructure projects do more harm than good.
Nobody is going to pick up everything from Karachi and transplant to Gwadar tomorrow. Also Gwadar airport is likely never going to see retail customers at the volume a “4F” airport is built for.
It’s going to take a lot of time and even if it does - it is contingent on so many other supporting factors. Until then your government will be servicing an empty shell.
Take Shannon Airport for example. It's a huge transit and maintenance hub in middle of nowhere but it's a success story.
The NGIA project is being built in the light of future CPEC aspirations. Al though the current 'imported govt' has pushed it on the back seat, it will still be completed on time and become fully operational next year.
Gwadar is an export oriented hub and ideally equipped with a 4F category airport giving it the capability to handle largest cargo aircraft currently available. It will never become a ghost project or a white elephant because we have a huge economic and trade potential and in the past we've repeatedly proved to make a comeback in the shortest time. Musharraf did it after 2001 and Imran needed just 3 years to hit the 5% growth mark. It will happen again soon.
Infrastructure projects like CPEC are long-term projects that add to the productive capacity of Pakistan's economy. Pakistan has to manage short-term issues without significantly delaying these projects. Never sacrifice long-term goals.
The United Arab Emirates will build a new Red Sea port in Sudan as part of a $6 billion investment package, DAL group chairman Osama Daoud Abdellatif, a partner in the deal, told Reuters.
Abdellatif said the package includes a free trade zone, a large agricultural project and an imminent $300 million deposit to Sudan's central bank, which would be the first such deposit since an October military takeover.
The UAE deal also includes the $1.6 billion expansion and development of an agricultural project by Abu Dhabi conglomerate IHC and DAL Agriculture in the town of Abu Hamad in northern Sudan, Abdellatif said.
Rumours of Gulf investments in Port Sudan, and in agricultural projects elsewhere in the country, have in the past stirred opposition and sometimes protests.
Alfalfa, wheat, cotton, sesame, and other crops would be grown and processed on the 400,000 acres of leased land, he said. A $450 million, 500 km (310 mile) toll road connecting the project to the port would be built as well, financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
Under the agreement, the Fund would also make a deposit of $300 million to the Central Bank of Sudan, Abdellatif said.
Abdellatif said the agreement was reached initially in July 2021, under a civilian-led transitional government.
Addressing Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here on Thursday, he added that the air cargo complex was also under construction and 75% of the work was expected to be completed before the runway becomes operational.
Zia expressed satisfaction over the available passenger load and air cargo and said that 102 domestic and international flights were successfully operating from Faisalabad airport.
Zia expressed satisfaction over the available passenger load and air cargo and said that 102 domestic and international flights were successfully operating from Faisalabad airport.
He said the old runway could only accommodate small planes, which prompted authorities to construct a new runway for wide-bodied aircraft, in view of the projected increase of passengers and air cargo from the city and its catchment areas.
The new runway will be completed by October this year, enabling Boeing 777 to land at Faisalabad International Airport.
This was stated by airport manager Muhammad Anwar Zia at a meeting with FCCI officials on Thursday.
He said the air cargo complex was also under construction and 75 per cent of the work would be completed before the runway becomes operational.
He expressed satisfaction over the available passenger load and air cargo and said the airport was in a deficit of Rs220 million when he was posted here.
“It is now earning a profit of Rs2 billion,” he said and added that presently 102 domestic and international flights are operating from this airport facility in a month. He said that only small planes could land on the old runway, prompting authorities to construct a new runway.
He said a study was conducted to evaluate the passenger load before contacting international airlines. At that time the available passenger load was only 70,000 which jumped to 500,000 and is now expected to cross the mark of 800,000 within the next few years. He said that in a similar pattern, we must calculate the available tonnage of air cargo so that the airlines could be convinced to launch a dedicated air cargo service from this port.
He asked the FCCI to share data on air cargo so that a comprehensive study could be finalised. Four planes can be parked at a time and more facilities will also be arranged after calculating the passengers and air cargo shipments, he said.
In the latest development on economic front, China has announced to grant a fresh rollover of $2 billion safe deposits to Pakistan. Besides, it also decided to export 200,000 tonnes of urea fertiliser to Pakistan.
In this regard, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Pakistan and China during the visit of high-level Chinese delegation to Pakistan. As per the understanding between the two countries, the Chinese government will provide Pakistan 3,000 sets of solar home system while Pakistan will export embryos to China for quarantine and health requirements for buffalo and Rhodes Grass to China.
In addition, an understanding on the terms of reference of G2G joint technical working group for realignment of Karakoram Highway from Thakot to Raikot was also developed. The high-level delegation, under the leadership of Yang Jiechi, Member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of its Foreign Affairs Commission, is on a two-day visit to Pakistan.
On arrival in the capital, SAPMs Syed Tariq Fatemi and Zafaruddin Mahmood, Ambassador Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, additional secretary and other officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, received the delegation.
Extending a warm welcome to Director Yang, the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif conveyed the most cordial greetings and best wishes for President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. He noted that Director Yang’s visit marked the continuation of high-level exchanges between Pakistan and China, which are the hallmark of the time-tested All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between the two countries.
The prime minister recalled his extensive conversation with Premier Li Keqiang in May 2022, during which both leaders had reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and exchanged views on the regional and international situation.
He underscored the significance of Director Yang’s visit for accelerating the implementation of the leaders’ consensus on further enhancing bilateral relations across all domains. “Economic cooperation has become a mainstay of the wide-ranging Pakistan-China partnership,” said the PM.
The prime minister thanked China for renewal of the RMB 15 billion (US $ 2.3 billion) syndicate facility and its support and assistance to Pakistan's efforts towards preventing the spread of Covid-19 pandemic by providing millions of vaccine doses as well as protective and medical equipment.
He underlined that as a flagship of the visionary Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), CPEC had transformed Pakistan’s economic base and strengthened capacity for self-development. Besides, PM Shehbaz reaffirmed the government’s resolve to accelerate the pace and complete CPEC projects at the earliest. He also underscored the high importance Pakistan attached to the strategic ML-I and other key projects including Karachi Circular Railway (KCR), Babusar Tunnel, and desalinisation plant in Karachi.
“Pakistan stands ready to work closely with China for realising both countries’ shared vision of connectivity, prosperity and public well-being,” said PM Shehbaz. He added Pakistan would also continue to support Chinese investors with competitive incentives, access to high-quality infrastructure and unwavering security arrangements.
CPEC and growing economic linkages had deepened the roots of the abiding friendship between the peoples of both countries, the Prime Minister noted. Atop this unshakeable foundation, the Pakistan-China partnership would continue to play its valuable role as a factor of peace and stability in the region and beyond.
The New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA) will be equipped with an advanced communications system from Chinese Company Hytera, a leading global provider of professional communications technologies and solutions.
The NGIA, built across an area of 4,300 acres, is expected to become the largest airport in Pakistan after its completion on 2023 and is one of the main projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
To ensure the safety of passengers and employees both on the ground and in the air, the Hytera airport communications solution was chosen to provide reliable and robust communication for the NGIA.
According to the contract, Hytera will deploy top-of-the-line equipment and communication system for the new Gwadar International Airport, including 1 DIB-R5 Compact Tetra Base Station, Smart One Dispatch System, and multiple portable radios, mobile radios as well as repeaters.
The project marked another milestone of Hytera’s progress in the airport industry and the Pakistani market. Its roster of clients in the airport industry includes Qatar Airways, PMIA Airport, Hong Kong Airport, Vienna Airport, Charles de Gaulle Airport, and Helsinki Airport.
ISLAMABAD -- A company from Oman is looking to invest in a train line that would link the Pakistani port town of Gwadar -- envisioned as a key stop on China's Belt and Road infrastructure network -- with Pakistan's main railway system.
The proposed multibillion-dollar project could go a long way toward resolving the seafront city's lack of rail connectivity. It also conjures up the past of Gwadar, which was part of Oman for 175 years. But at the same time, Pakistan's turbulent political situation is casting doubt on the prospects for pushing the plan forward and realizing the port's potential.
Earlier this month, officials from Anvwar Asian Investments, an Omani project financing firm, met with officials of Pakistan's Board of Investment and expressed interest in building a 1,087-kilometer railway between Gwadar and Jacobabad in central Pakistan. The investment would be worth $2.3 billion, and the Omani side says it is ready to provide an immediate tranche of $500 million as initial financing, according to the BOI.
Many see the plan as fitting, given the history that binds Gwadar with Oman -- about 450 km away, across the mouth of the Gulf of Oman.
In 1783, the ruler of what was then Kalat State -- now Balochistan -- gifted Gwadar to Oman's Taimur Sultan, a defeated prince on the run, who later mounted a comeback and reigned as sultan in Muscat. Gwadar remained part of Oman until roughly a decade after Pakistan's inception, when Islamabad purchased it in 1958 with British help.
Many of Gwadar's older residents still have Omani nationality as well.
Nasir Sohrabi, president of the Rural Community Development Council in Gwadar, said Oman has been the primary overseas destination for the people of Gwadar, even after the town became part of Pakistan. "Plenty of people from Gwadar live in Oman and do business or work as employees in many sectors, including the army," he told Nikkei Asia.
Oman is well-regarded among many locals. Sohrabi added that when Gwadar suffered severe power shortages in 2001, Oman's then-ruler, Sultan Qaboos, gave the city 45 power generators.
"This is one instance of the people of Gwadar having a special bond with Oman," Sohrabi said.
The railway investment offer, if it comes to fruition, would significantly ease access to Gwadar and its Chinese-built and operated port, part of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Despite being in the middle of BRI activity in Pakistan, no train lines run to Gwadar, and uncertainty shrouds plans for other railway upgrades under CPEC. Plans call for improving tracks between Peshawar and Karachi, the latter of which is about 600 km from Gwadar. But this project, known as Main Line-1 or ML-1, appears at risk of being shelved due to a disagreement on costs between Islamabad and Beijing, according to local reports in April.
"China wanted ML-1 to have a price tag of $9 billion, which Pakistan reduced to $6.8 billion," an official who deals with the planning of federal projects in Pakistan told Nikkei Asia on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorized to talk to the media.
The official added that Islamabad wants loans at a lower rate than what Beijing is prepared to offer.
Sohrabi stressed that Gwadar can never be a successful major port without a strong railway network.
"Currently, the cargo which is unloaded at Gwadar Port is transported by road to Karachi [and] from there it's shipped to other parts of the country via rail," he said. "If this is the case, then it makes more sense to unload cargo directly at Karachi Port instead of Gwadar."
"Currently, the cargo which is unloaded at Gwadar Port is transported by road to Karachi [and] from there it's shipped to other parts of the country via rail," he said. "If this is the case, then it makes more sense to unload cargo directly at Karachi Port instead of Gwadar."
Some see the Omani offer to develop Gwadar's infrastructure as a quid pro quo effort to support CPEC. China is investing in an industrial park in Oman's Duqm, a port town about 1,000 km south of the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping lane.
Yet, Oman's Anvwar Asian Investments is not the only one interested in building a railway link for Gwadar.
"A Singaporean company, Pathfinder, has expressed its interest to invest $5 billion to develop a high-speed rail network from Gwadar to Hub," a town in Balochistan, Saeed Ahmed Sarparah, chairman of the Balochistan Board of Investment and Trade, told Nikkei. He added that the Singaporean offer is undergoing an assessment by the federal government.
Neither the Omani company nor the Singaporean one had responded to requests for comment as of publication time.
Some are skeptical about the chances of moving forward with such a high-stakes, long-term endeavor given the persistent political instability in Pakistan. The coalition government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is locked in a power struggle with the man he replaced, Imran Khan, amid an economic crisis. Khan now faces terrorism charges. And investments in Balochistan, whether by China or a Canadian gold miner, have become targets of separatists.
Aslam Bhootani, a member of the National Assembly representing Gwadar, told Nikkei he was unaware of the rail investment offers as he had "not been taken into confidence yet."
But Bhootani said, "I do not see how Oman and Singaporean companies can benefit from investing in the rail network of Gwadar at such a turbulent time."
East Bay Expressway (EBEW), New Gwadar International Airport (NGIA), China-Pakistan Vocational and Technical Training Institute (PCVTI), China-Pakistan 300 Bed Friendship Hospital, 1.2 million Gallons per Day (MGD) desalination water plant, and a number of other infrastructural development projects are some of the China-funded schemes.
Many of these projects such as EBEW and PCVTI are functional. Others are expected to be completed soon. Since China’s takeover of Gwadar port in 2013, a number of direct and indirect benefits have been offered to the local community. Several job opportunities have been provided.
In addition to the infrastructure developments, Gwadar is witnessing multiple social welfare programs, such as Gwadar Women’s Development Centre, aimed at skills development, women empowerment, and poverty alleviation. Furthermore, the planned projects can eventually make the locals self-sufficient.
Moreover, China has so far installed over 7,000 solar panels in district Gwadar to provide efficient electricity to local users. Gwadar port is functional with a remarkable capacity to process containers, bulk cargo, and LPG vessels. Hundreds of thousands of cargo is processed annually.
Recently, a web-based custom (weboc) service has been instituted as well, which will accelerate the clearance process.
In Gwadar Free Zone, more than 50 companies, both from Pakistan and abroad, have been registered and are in the operational stage.
The areas of manufacturing/ processing range from agriculture to trading, food processing, chemical fertilizer, metal processing and agricultural production.
The Scientific Research Laboratory in Free Zone equipped with sophisticated technology is working selflessly on modern techniques to explore new varieties of plants favorable to Gwadar’s environment.
So far, they have cultivated several varieties of bananas. Cultivation of other plants such as figs and king-grass which are seemingly unfeasible has made it possible for the local farmers to prospect new avenues of livelihood.
Apart from managing commercial activities, China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC), the concession-holder and operator of Gwadar Port and Free Zone, has undertaken a number of initiatives in the social sector, within the port premises and beyond.
The China-Pakistan High School for girls in Faqeer Colony, which is governed by COPHC, has proved to be a great achievement in the education sector. The Women Garments Factory and the goat farm in the Free Zone, in addition to skills enhancement, are a source of livelihood for the local workers.
Besides, Chinese enterprises working in Gwadar, under the framework of CSR, extend a helping hand to their local brothers. During the floods earlier this year, COPHC reached the families on the outskirts of Gwadar. Edible items to 1000 affected families were distributed.
Fishing nets were given to the local fishermen. Apart from social services, China has also striven to enhance the institutional efficiency of Gwadar.
Motorcycles and laptops have been given to Gwadar Police to increase their productivity. For the pursuit of clean and green Gwadar, China-Pakistan Friendship Forest was established where more than 50,000 plants have been planted. This has improved the natural environment of Gwadar.
This is not the end. Gwadar is yet to achieve its full potential. With the construction of the breakwater, completion of the port’s dredging process and operationalization of the international airport, Gwadar port will truly prove to be the engine of Pakistan’s economic development.
The industrialization of the Gwadar Free Zone will start a new era for Pakistan’s progress. With the commencement of manufacturing in the free zone, Pakistan will emerge as a production hub in South Asia.
Exports will increase, curtailing Pakistan’s current account deficit and increasing the foreign reserves.
A team of Barrick Gold Corporation, headed by Michael Peter Nelson, arrived in Gwadar on Tuesday and indicated that it was interested in making investment in import and export of different minerals in the port city.
The delegation, which flew to Gwadar in a special plane, attended an important meeting about Gwadar free zone, functionality, connectivity of the port and the future of Reko-Diq.
The team informed the meeting about their interest in investment in various sectors in Gwadar.
The chairman of Gwadar Port Authority (GPA), Mr Naseer Khan Kashani, briefed the delegation on Gwadar port, Gwadar free zone and other development projects initiated under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The GPA chairman urged the foreign investors to take advantage of the ample development opportunities in the port city as the foreign investment was safe and secured here in every way and all necessary facilities were available in the area.
The team was further informed that Gwadar International Airport would be completed next year after which tourists and investors from all over the world would start flocking the port city.
The Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) on Wednesday announced the successful bidder for the supply and installation of a floating jetty at Gwadar Port.
According to the details, GPA has invited companies and contractors who have sufficient experience in the relevant field and are suitably competent in the supply, installation, and commissioning of the floating jetty at Gwadar Mini Port in line with the prescribed tender documents.
The qualified tenderers put forward their technical and financial proposals separately in sealed envelopes with all the required details and documentary evidence on July 25, 2022.
In response to the proposals, three bidders have been chosen; however, Karachi-based RAB Construction Company has been described as the lowest evaluated bidder with Rs 150 million.
A floating jetty is made of one or more floats or pontoons. Regardless of the level of water, they are used to link boats.
October 11, 2022
ISLAMABAD: The country’s largest airport -New Gwadar International Airport - being constructed at the cost of $246m and spanning an area of 4,300 acres, will be operational by September 2023 to welcome local and international flights at the port city.
According to an official source, the passenger terminal building of the project would be completed by June 2023, work related to air traffic control by March 2023, while the overall construction of the airport would be finished before September 2023.
The New Gwadar International Airport is being managed and operated by the Civil Aviation Authority. The airport development is a part of the gigantic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which is a cornerstone of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
According to China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, the 11th JCC was held by videoconference on Thursday, with both sides vowing to promote the high-quality construction of the CPEC and build a China-Pakistan community of shared destiny.
During the meeting, Lin Nianxiu, vice chairman of the NDRC, said that China has always attached great importance to China-Pakistan relations, which have endured the test of international changes for more than 70 years and remained rock-solid.
Since the 10th JCC, China and Pakistan have promoted the construction of the corridor with fruitful results amid a time of challenging conditions, Lin said, adding that the two countries will strengthen cooperation to ensure the smooth construction and operation of CPEC projects.
Moreover, the two sides will expand cooperation fields to empower the construction of the corridor and ensure the safety of project construction and personnel. "China will pragmatically promote the high-quality operation of the CPEC and create demonstration projects under the BRI in a bid to build a China-Pakistan community of shared destiny in the new era," Lin noted.
Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan's federal minister for planning development and special initiatives, said that the CPEC has emerged as the top national priority of the Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership, according to a report published by the ministry.
According to the report, all important memorandums of understanding (MOU) will be signed during Sharif's visit to China.
"During the visit, leaders from the two countries will likely discuss the consensuses that were reached in the 11th JCC, in fields such as energy, infrastructure construction, advanced technology and agricultural cooperation," Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Monday.
During the meeting, Iqbal also noted that after Pakistan was hit by severe floods this year, the Chinese government and people generously assisted the country in disaster relief and post-disaster reconstruction, fully reflecting the "ironclad" friendship between the two countries.
Since the 10th JCC, the construction of the CPEC has achieved many milestones, further enhancing economic ties between the two countries and promoting regional peace, stability and prosperity, Iqbal said.
The corridor has entered the second phase of high-quality development, and Pakistan will do its utmost to realize the great vision of the two leaders, providing security and relevant policy support for Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan, in a bid to make Pakistan a more attractive investment destination, the minister noted.
During the meeting, the Joint Working Groups on Energy, Transport Infrastructure, Gwadar, Industrial Cooperation, Science and Technology, and Agriculture Cooperation made presentations, reaching a series of important consensuses.
The JCC highlighted the significance of key projects for energy and infrastructure development, including power plants, motorways and highways, which have provided a myriad of opportunities for socioeconomic development in Pakistan.
"The decisions we take today will go a long way in furthering the aims of the CPEC, which has regained the momentum it had during 2013-18," the minister said in the report.
Political turbulence in Pakistan since 2017 has made China “less certain” about whether some of its long-term economic bets will “pay off if there aren’t governments that can sustain their commitments or a really solid political consensus behind these investments,” he added.
Since taking office in April, Sharif has prioritised the revival of the estimated US$62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a Belt and Initiative programme connecting Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.
Sharif hopes his coalition government’s efforts to fast-track the completion of lagging CPEC projects and target militant separatists who have carried out lethal attacks against Chinese nationals have been enough to persuade Beijing to pay huge amounts for mass transit and power generation schemes.
“There have certainly been tactical issues” between Beijing and Islamabad over security and delayed payments to Chinese-owned power projects, said Mustafa Hyder Sayed, executive director of the Pakistan China Institute in Islamabad.
“But strategically the alignment is very robust. Particularly in the wake of the accelerated big power [between nations] competition, we see there are more and more convergences and shared interests with Beijing,” he said.
The US national security strategy unveiled on October 12 prioritised the building of strategic relations with India, with which China and Pakistan have both fought wars over territorial claims.
China knows a “stable and strong” Pakistan is in “the national interest of the People’s Republic,” Sayed said.
Small said Pakistan’s security situation will be at the top of Beijing’s agenda in talks, because of the killing of 13 Chinese nationals in terrorist attacks by Taliban insurgents and ethnic Baloch separatists since July 2021.
During a recent meeting with Sharif during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan, President Xi Jinping hoped Pakistan would protect “the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan as well as the lawful rights and interests of Chinese businesses”.
The killing by suicide bomb of nine Chinese men working on the Dasu hydropower project was “a particular shock to the Chinese government, even more so than some of the soft target attacks in Karachi”, said Small.
Beijing’s overall view is that between the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP – the Pakistani Taliban) and the Baloch insurgency, there has been a serious deterioration in the security environment and not enough is being done to protect Chinese workers, Small said, delaying projects’ progress and increasing the risk that China will pull personnel out.
It also means Beijing may use more of its own security staff.
Pakistan has recently arrested the leaders of Baloch insurgent cells responsible for attacks on Chinese nationals in the province of Balochistan and the port city of Karachi, said Abdul Basit, a research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
China is also maintaining pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan to rein in the approximately 5,000 Pakistani Taliban insurgents it hosts, he said.
Despite a Taliban-brokered ceasefire agreed in June, the TTP has launched daily lethal attacks against the security forces and police in the northwest of the country since negotiations broke down in late July.
A major military operation in Pakistan’s tribal districts bordering Afghanistan “is in the offing”, Basit said.
“Beijing is concerned, but it has full trust in the Pakistan Army’s counterterrorism capabilities,” he added.
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said that Pakistan and China are committed to start work on ML-1 Railway Project and Karachi Circular Railway under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The minister said that several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and agreements will be signed during Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China.
He said in a statement on Tuesday that both sides are committed to commence work on ML-1 and Karachi Circular Railway.
He said that the ML-1 Railway Project will have a positive impact on the economies of Pakistan and China.
The minister said industrial cooperation would be promoted under the CPEC which would also create job opportunities. He said that there would also be a discussion on agricultural cooperation under the CPEC.
Two countries plan to upgrade line from Karachi to Peshawar
Pakistan officials have said they expect funding from China
By Faseeh Mangi
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif agreed in a meeting in Beijing to launch a high-speed rail project that could cost $9.85 billion, a move that comes as the world’s No. 2 economy moves to slow some of its lending due to growth concerns.
The two nations agreed to get started on the Main Line-1, according to a statement from Sharif’s office, which described it as “a project of strategic importance.”
That project involves upgrading a 1,163-mile, colonial-era track from Karachi to Peshawar to carry high-speed trains. Earlier this week, Pakistan formally approved the project, which has been in discussion for years, without saying where the funding would come from or providing technical details.
Officials in Pakistan have previously said they expected to get loans from China for the upgrade.
The US has in the past criticized China for using what it calls “debt diplomacy” to make developing nations more dependent on Beijing. Still, earlier this year China delayed a bailout for Pakistan as its debt soared, and it has been scaling back lending in Africa as its economy slows.
About 30% of Pakistan’s foreign debt is owed to China, including state-owned commercial banks, the International Monetary Fund said in a report in September.
In June, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its outlook on Pakistan to negative from stable, citing financial concerns.
See: Xi Kicks Off Third Term With Flurry of Diplomatic Activity
In their talks, Xi and Sharif agreed to finalize details on an inner-city rail line in Karachi. The Chinese leader also said his nation would provide 500 million yuan ($68.7 million) to Pakistan to help it rebuild after flooding over the summer that displaced more than half a million people.
Also Wednesday, the two countries’ central banks signed a memorandum of cooperation on a yuan clearing in Pakistan, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement. It didn’t give more details.
Sharif is wrapping up a two-day visit to Beijing. China is hosting a flurry of foreign leaders this week, as Xi kicks off a norm-busting third term during which he’s vowed to increase his nation’s global influence.
Vietnam’s Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong became the first foreign leader to meet Xi since the Chinese president removed rivals and installed loyalists at a leadership reshuffle last month.
Xi and his top officials are then expected to hold talks in the capital with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Later this month, he will likely travel to Indonesia and Thailand for major summits attended by global leaders including President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Beijing’s Belt and Road investment strategy meets resistance in the developing world it seeks to influence
China is the largest lender to the developing world, mainly through Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road infrastructure program. The country has worked to portray itself as a benevolent partner to the countries where it is spending money, in an attempt to draw a distinction with Western powers.
Still, as its global reach expands, China is increasingly grappling with the consequences of projecting power around the world, including corruption, local resentment, political instability and violence. For developing countries, China offers perhaps the best chance of quickly building major infrastructure.
Beijing accepts a degree of security risk in pursuing its Belt and Road program and is committed to working with partner governments, such as in Pakistan, to mitigate threats to Chinese personnel and assets, Chinese experts say.
“We couldn’t possibly wait until all terror attacks cease before starting new projects,” said Qian Feng, a senior fellow at Tsinghua University’s National Strategy Institute. “We have to keep working, studying the issues, and undertake preventative measures at the same time.”
Chinese businesses and workers in several countries where it is making investments have become favored targets. Chinese nationals are seen as wealthier than most locals and, in some cases, are perceived to be reaping too much of the economic benefits and job opportunities created by Beijing’s investments.
Gunmen in Nigeria abducted four Chinese workers in June during an attack at a mine in the country’s northwest. In October, unidentified “thugs” attacked a Chinese-funded business in Nigeria and killed a Chinese employee there, according to the Chinese consulate in Lagos. The consulate urged Chinese companies to hire private security and fortify their work areas.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Chinese investors dominate the mining industry, Chinese business groups and workers have sounded alarms about armed robberies and kidnappings in recent months. Beijing has urged local authorities to step up security for Chinese assets and personnel.
There were about 440,000 Chinese people working abroad for Chinese contractors in Asia and roughly 93,500 in Africa at the end of last year, according to the China International Contractors Association, a Beijing-based industry group.
The Oxus Society, a Washington-based think tank, counted about 160 incidents of civil unrest in Central Asia between 2018 and mid-2021 where China was the key issue.
Beijing recognizes the rising threat to its workers in developing countries but doesn’t want to send in its army as it professes noninterference abroad, said Alessandro Arduino, author of “China’s Private Army: Protecting the New Silk Road.” Instead, China is deploying technology such as facial recognition and hiring more private Chinese security contractors, he said.
China chose Pakistan—one of its closest allies, with deep military ties and a common rival in India—as a showcase of its investment in developing nations. Beijing has spent about $25 billion here on roads, power plants and a port.
Pang Chunxue, deputy head of mission, Chinese Embassy, has said that China is planning to further deepen synergy between its development strategies and those of Pakistan.
The Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR) organized a policy conclave here in Islamabad, titled "CPEC's Defining Moment: Prospect and Challenges".
China and Pakistan will make full use of the Joint Cooperation Committee of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), advance the CPEC with greater efficiency, and make the CPEC an exemplar of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, Pang said while addressing the session.
While highlighting the benefits of the CPEC she said that as the landmark project of the BRI, CPEC has achieved fruitful results, bringing in $25.4 billion in investment, helping to add 6040 MW of electricity, 886 km of core national transmission network and 510 km of highways.
Under promotion of the CPEC, Pakistan's energy shortage has been greatly addressed, transport infrastructure has been improved, and local people have gained a large number of employment opportunities.
Lastly, she said that China will always put Pakistan as its priority for cooperation and work in joint hands to address various risks and challenges at the regional and international levels, deepen the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, and build a closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.
Four special economic zones (SEZs) being set up under the framework of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are likely to generate about 575,000 direct and over 1 million indirect jobs in Pakistan, a senior official said on Thursday.
The economic zones being established in the country's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan provinces would bring about immense opportunities for Pakistani people in job and business sectors, Chairman of Special Economic Zones Authority S.M. Naveed said.
"We have conducted a study to assess job opportunities in four out of nine SEZs, including KP's Rashakai, Sindh's Dhabeji, Punjab's Allama Iqbal and Balochistan's Bostan, to find out potential jobs and industries in the SEZs," the official said, adding that the SEZs offer employment in different fields for which the local youth would be trained before the initiation of the industrial phase.
The trained and skilled labor and engineers would not only get good jobs in the economic zones but also enable Chinese and local companies to recruit skilled professionals from local areas, he added.
The potential industries being set up in the CPEC special economic zones include food processing, cooking oil, ceramics, gems and jewelry, marble, minerals, agriculture machinery, iron and steel, motorbike assembling, electrical appliances and automobiles.
Launched in 2013, CPEC is a corridor linking Pakistan's Gwadar Port with Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which highlights energy, transport and industrial cooperation. ■
India’s goal of being a trade hub hit a major snag on January 11, when the world’s biggest boxship, Ever Alot, gave it a miss because of port infrastructural issues. Meanwhile, the economically hit Sri Lanka and the south-east nation Malaysia have been visited by Ever Alot in recent times.
Although the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust highlighted that the Mundra Port run by Adani could handle the 24000 TEU ship, Ever Alot decided to skip it over the lack of a 17-meter draft. To berth the 400 meters long ship, such a draft was crucial.
So far, the Mundra Port has handled ships as big as APL Raffles, a 17,292-TEU ship, in January last year. The vessel was carrying 13,159 TEUs onboard at that time.
The Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) hosted a two-day delegation visit to CPEC projects such as the Port Qasim Power Project and the Thar Coal Mines at Sindh Electric Coal Mining Company, according to Gwadar Pro.
The delegation, led by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, included renowned parliamentarians from various political parties. Guo Guangling, CEO of Port Qasim Electric Power Company, hosted and welcomed the delegation on the first day and briefed them on the project’s unique operation.
The delegation was briefed on the most recent developments in CPEC’s energy sector, CPEC’ contribution to the Pakistani economy and the opportunities for interaction between Chinese investors and delegates.
The Port Qasim Power Project uses Super Critical Technology, which emits white smoke that is environmentally friendly. It is currently operational and connected to the national grid.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed thanked Power China and the people of China for trusting and investing in Pakistan, especially when Pakistan was facing the most deadly wave of terrorism. “By constructing an economic corridor that promotes connection, construction, exploration of investments, and people-to-people contacts for connectivity, CPEC is aiming to better the lives of the people of Pakistan and China,” he added.
According to the data provided by PCI, 12 energy projects have been completed under CPEC in the last 10 years. In total, there are 36 active projects with an estimated cost of $27.5 billion. It is expected that many of these projects will be completed by 2023.
As per the data, the completed energy projects include the 1320MW Sahiwal Coal-fired power plant, 1320 MW Coal-fired power plant at Port Qasim, Karachi, 1320 MW China Hub Coal Power Project, Hub Balochistan, 660 MW Engro Thar Coal Power Project, 720 MW Karot Hydropower Project, AJK/Punjab, 100MW UEP wind farm Jhimpir, Thatta, 50 MW Sachal wind farm, Jhimpir, Thatta, 100 MW Three Gorges second and third Wind power project, 1000 MW Quaid-e-Azam solar park Bahawalpur, 50 MW Hydro China Dawood Wind Farm Gharo, Thatta, Matiari to Lahore 660 KV HVDC transmission line project, 4000 MW evacuation capacity, and 330 MW HUBCO Thar coal power project.
These projects entail desalination potable water plant, Gwadar Free Zone North (Phase 11), Gwadar Safe City Project, New Gwadar International Airport, three electricity projects, Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan, Gwadar Tourism Project, New management model of Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute (PCT & VI), State of Art Shipyard Project, Oil Refinery project, Green Gwadar Project, Pak-China Friendship Hospital, fisher community projects, Gwadar Port dredging project, Export-oriented projects, Fishing industry, Warehouse industry, and Gwadar Huafa Exhibition and Trading Center.
According to the report, over the last 10 years since CPEC set its foot in 2013, Gwadar outlook is changing gradually and constructively, getting over daunting challenges including poverty, civic issues, water, electricity, employment, infrastructure, agriculture and on top of them blue economy.
In the past Gwadar was in shamble and disarray. Later in the course of 10 years, Gwadar has been making headway toward progress in a sustainable manner.
Many development projects have been completed so far including Gwadar Port, Gwadar Free Zone South (Phase I), Eastbay Expressway, Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute (PCT & VI), China-Pakistan Gwadar Faqeer Middle School, Fiber Optic, E-Custom system (WeBOC), Plant Tissue Culture Lab & Green House, livestock, women-led garment factory, Gwadar University and GDA-Indus Hospital.
The city’s strategic location at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, coupled with its deep-sea port and modern infrastructure, makes it a hub for trade, transportation, and investment.
As a result, Gwadar is expected to attract a significant amount of foreign investment and economic activity in the coming years, emerging as a major contributor to Pakistan’s economic growth.
One of the most significant projects is the 1.2 Million Gallon Per Day (MGD) de-salination plant, expected to be fully operational by April 2023. This plant will provide a reliable source of clean drinking water to the residents of Gwadar.
In 2023, more than 4 lakhs of people of Gwadar are going to get rid of painful power woes as three electricity projects will power up Gwadar. The first project is about 100 MW Irani electricity from Gabd-Remdan (Pak-Iran border) to Jiwani Grid Station to Gwadar that will come on 1st March.
The second project is another 100 MW from Iran-Pangjur-Turban-Pasni to Gwadar that is going to be completed in current year. The third project is from Quetta, Nag-Besima section to Pangjur and then Turbat-Pasni to Gwadar.
Meanwhile 5 MW power supply will be available to Gwadar Free Zones North (Phase II). If all goes well, in the second step 12 MW power supply will be ensured for Gwadar Free Zone South (phase I) and Gwadar Port in coming months. Finally, the government also approved 300 MW coal-fired power project for Gwadar.
Another major project that is expected to pick more pace in 2023 is the development of the Gwadar Free Zone North (Phase II) spreading over 2,221 acres of land. Currently, export-based Chinese companies are very near building and running their factories in a few months.
The year of 2023 has also brought many fortunes for Gwadar’s fishermen regarding their livelihood to new housing schemes. The Balochistan Government has approved 200 acres of land for new fishermen housing colony for low-income fishmen of Gwadar.
Around Rs300 million has been allocated. Around 3,291 poor fishermen of Gwadar are going to get free of cost boat engines as the government has allocated funds of Rs823 million.
We have scrutinised the plant from every angle, including the environmental one, and tried to look at alternatives. Coal is the only feasible fuel.
Bao Zhong, Embassy of the PRC in Islamabad
News that the Pakistan government plans to secure financing and start construction on a long-stalled 300 megawatt coal-fired power plant in the port city of Gwadar has triggered a debate on the direction of the country’s energy sector. Set to be built and funded by Chinese state-owned entities, recent developments have also raised fresh questions about China’s pledge – made at the UN General Assembly in 2021 – not to build any new coal power plants overseas.
The Gwadar plant was first conceived in 2016, with an estimated cost of US$542.32 million. It is to be constructed by the Chinese company CIHC Pak Power, a subsidiary of the state-owned China Communications and Construction Group. The plant was recently reported to have secured financing from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China’s largest commercial bank. Once completed, it is intended to supply power, on a priority basis, to the industries being set up at the Gwadar Free Zone. This special economic zone at Gwadar port forms part of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the US$62 billion bilateral infrastructure and connectivity project between China and Pakistan.
The environmental impacts of coal power – from local air and water pollution to carbon emissions – have made the project controversial.
“We are pushing the Chinese company to complete its financial closure by 31 December 2023, and start construction at the earliest so that it can be completed by 2025,” Shah Jahan Mirza, said managing director of the Pakistan-government-owned Private Power and Infrastructure Board. “Electricity shortage is the biggest impediment to developing Gwadar,” he said.
Pakistan’s energy sector is dominated by fossil fuels. According to the country’s Finance Division, as of April 2022, just under 60% of total installed generation capacity used fossil fuels, including gas, oil and coal. Just 3% of generated electricity in the 2022 fiscal year came from non-hydropower renewables. Pakistan’s climate pledge under the Paris Agreement – known as its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – targets 60% renewable energy generation by 2030, including hydropower. The NDC also states: “From 2020, new coal power plants are subject to a moratorium.”
No new Chinese-backed coal power overseas?
In 2021, China’s president, Xi Jinping, announced that China would not build any new coal-fired power projects abroad. He also stated that the country would increase support for low-carbon energy in developing countries.
Bao Zhong, political counsellor at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Islamabad, said the Chinese government stands by the pledge. “The Gwadar coal-fired plant is not a new project and has been in the CPEC framework since 2016,” she said. “We hope the Gwadar power plant’s construction begins as early as possible to ease the power shortage there.”
Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s federal minister for planning, development and special initiatives, seconded Bao’s comments. “This project was approved in 2017, long before the Chinese president’s proclamation.”
LAHORE: Pakistan China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) on Wednesday said that CPEC after successful completion of early harvest phase has now entered into the second phase with focus on industrial cooperation, trade, agriculture and socio-economic development.
Presiding over a think tank of the joint chamber, PCJCCI President Moazzam Ghurki observed that increase in trade; investment and financial flows would bring peace and prosperity to the region through enhanced competition reducing regional disparities and social inequality.
Currently, 22 projects are undergoing fast implementation, higher in pace in comparison with any other corridor of the BRI initiative, making CPEC the central corridor of the initiative. Through Belt and Road forum participating states should promote intergovernmental cooperation, build intergovernmental mechanisms based on shared interests, trust and consensus.
PCJCCI Senior Vice President Fang Yulong said that Belt and Road Initiative reflects the far-sighted economic vision that is opening gateways of cooperation among the countries along the route. Connectivity, at the heart of Belt and Road, is primarily about linking the region to the world through economic belts to facilitate people to people interaction. He also said that Pakistan is actively engaged in the initiative and its flagship project, CPEC, is progressing in the right direction.
Belt and Road Initiative’s most expensive transport infrastructure project ‘has potential’ to reshape trade and geopolitics
The rail link is part of a broader plan to revive ancient Silk Road connections and reduce reliance on Western-dominated routes
The China-Pakistan railway – China’s largest Belt and Road Initiative transport project – will cost an estimated 400 billion yuan (US$57.7 billion), but should proceed because of its strategic significance, a government-commissioned feasibility study has found.
The proposed railway, connecting Pakistan’s port of Gwadar to Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, was assessed by scientists from the state-owned China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group Co Ltd.
The team, led by the institute’s deputy director of capital operations Zhang Ling, said the project was the belt and road plan’s most expensive transport infrastructure.
Despite the cost, the project had the potential to reshape trade and geopolitics across the Eurasian continent and should be supported, the team said in a report published by the Chinese-language journal Railway Transport and Economy in April.
“The government and financial institutions [in China] should provide strong support, increase coordination and collaboration among relevant domestic departments, strive for the injection of support funds and provide strong policy support and guarantees for the construction of this project,” they said.
The institute is one of the largest of its kind in China and has been involved in many major railway projects at home and internationally, including Indonesia’s Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail line.
The 3,000km (1,860-mile) railway will link China’s western regions with the Arabian Sea, bypassing the Strait of Malacca and reducing dependence on the South China Sea.
Connections with other transport networks – including in Iran and Turkey – would also provide a more direct route to Europe for Chinese goods, while Pakistan is forecast to get a much-needed boost from the improved infrastructure and easier trade with China.
The scheme is a key component of Beijing’s broader belt and road plan to promote economic cooperation and connectivity among the countries along the ancient Silk Road trade routes.
Previous studies by Chinese government researchers have suggested the infrastructure initiative could have significant geopolitical implications, helping to shift the balance of power away from traditional Western-dominated trade routes.
As well as encouraging a more multipolar world order, the belt and road plan could also help to promote economic development and stability in countries along the route by creating jobs, boosting infrastructure investment and increasing trade, the studies said.
Most belt and road transport infrastructure construction projects had received a significant proportion of funding from the host countries, and the scale of investment was much smaller, Zhang and his colleagues noted.
For example, total investment in Kenya’s Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway was US$3.8 billion, with China providing 5 per cent of the funding and Kenya paying for the rest.
The project connects the port city to the Kenyan capital and is part of a larger plan to link East African countries by rail. Similarly, China contributed 30 per cent of the US$4 billion funding for the Addis Ababa-Djibouti rail line in Ethiopia.
China covered 75 per cent of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway’s costs of US$5.9 billion, with Indonesian state-owned enterprises providing the remainder.
But Pakistan is unable to make a similar contribution. Its GDP last year was US$370 billion – just six times the estimated cost of the project.
“Due to energy shortages, poor investment environment and fiscal deficits,
Pakistan’s economic growth rate has come under pressure,” the team said.
“In terms of railway investment and construction, Pakistan is unable to provide sufficient financial and material support and mainly relies on Chinese enterprises for investment and construction.”
One reason for the hefty cost is the mountainous and geologically complex terrain along the route. There could be technical challenges to overcome in the construction and operation of the railway, the researchers said.
The project also required supporting infrastructure – such as ports and logistics facilities – that might not be immediately available in Pakistan, they said.
The study said Pakistan’s labour policies could be unpredictable, which could potentially affect the railway’s construction and operating costs.
The team also noted that Pakistan had experienced security challenges in recent years, including in its western region where the railway will pass through. Balochistan province, for instance, has been plagued by separatist violence for decades.
This could potentially disrupt construction and operation of the railway and pose a risk to Chinese workers and investments, the researchers said.
The study also pointed out the railway’s potential impact on neighbouring countries, such as India. With each country having its own priorities and interests, there could be disagreements or delays in decision-making related to the project, it said.
Zhang’s team suggested that a build and transfer (BT) model would provide the best investment and financing strategy for the project.
They considered BT against build-operate-transfer, public-private partnerships, and the engineering, procurement, construction mode that are becoming more popular in belt and road projects.
In the BT model, a contractor would be responsible for designing, building and financing the railway, with payment on completion and ownership transferred to the government or other commissioning entity.
The researchers said BT would allow the risks associated with the railway’s construction and operation to be allocated more effectively between China and Pakistan, potentially reducing the financial risks for both parties.
By ensuring that ownership of the railway was transferred to Pakistan, BT could also help to build trust between China and Pakistan by showing China’s commitment to supporting Pakistan’s long-term economic development, they said.
China and Pakistan have been talking for years about the railway, a crucial part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that was launched in 2015 and aims to connect Gwadar port to Xinjiang through a network of roads, railways and pipelines.
The researchers said the China-Pakistan relationship was complex, with both countries having different priorities and interests.
Negotiating agreements related to financing, labour policies, and other issues would require careful consideration of each country’s priorities and interests, they said.
In conclusion, Zhang and his team said their recommendation could help to move negotiations forward.
Gwadar International Airport has taken a significant step towards bolstering its air travel capabilities with the initiation of night landing operations. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced the launch on Sunday, allowing flights to arrive and depart during night hours at the country’s largest airport located in Gurandani, 26km east of Gwadar city.
In accordance with the new directive, the CAA has prohibited overnight parking for commercial airlines and aviation companies at the Gwadar airport. Only military aircraft and those affiliated with the Balochistan government will be permitted to park overnight at the facility. This development marks a pivotal milestone as it enables the airport to welcome local and international flights even after sundown.
The New Gwadar International Airport project, financed through a grant from the Chinese government as part of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), played a crucial role in facilitating the expansion. With an estimated cost of $230 million, the airport’s construction not only created 3,000 job opportunities but also provided a significant boost to the local economy.