Newly-elected Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, in his maiden speech, revealed that Islamabad and Beijing have expressed a keen desire to implement the Gwadar-Khunjerab-Kashgar rail network. The project had been discussed during talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in his recent visit to Pakistan.
While PM Sharif said the actual details of the project would be shared at a later date, he also stated that both countries will soon establish a taskforce to complete the project within the next five years, indicating that it may be implemented on a fast-track basis.
The successful implementation of the Gwadar-Khunjerab-Kashgar rail network will help China secure oil supply and commercial routes on the Indian Ocean, furthering its plans to secure yet another strategic energy and trade corridor. Besides, the project is expected to provide a major boost to Pakistan’s sinking economy.
The project is part of China’s ‘Strings of Pearl’ strategic initiative, under which the economic giant wants to secure maritime centres in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Somalia. The plan highlights China’s growing influence on the region’s ports and airfields. The previous government has already handed over administrative control of the port to China.
The project, which will root Gawadar as a nexus point connecting the West with Central China, was the only scheme mentioned by the new premier in his first speech, and seems close to his stated vision of building mega-projects. It also indicates the new government’s desire to receive economic benefits from the world’s second-largest economy.
Full article: Building on ties: New premier indicates plan to link Gwadar with China (The Express Tribune)