By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his government has set its eyes on the “huge” Central Asian market as peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan negotiators began in Doha over the weekend after months of delays.
“Pakistan played a huge role [in bringing both parties to the negotiation table]… but if peace prevails, we would have a huge and peaceful market in Central Asia,” he said after Pakistan and China signed an agreement on the development of Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The accord was inked between the two countries during a ceremony which took place at the Pakistani Prime Minister House in Islamabad.
The Pakistani prime minister said that Uzbek leadership has shown interest in developing rail track from Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan to Peshawar and it can trigger a revolution for industrial growth in the country.
The Pakistani premier said that the people of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, who often seek better employment opportunities in the Middle East and Karachi, would greatly benefit from the SEZ. “Now the people would get opportunities in their own province without leaving their family in search of a better life,” he added.
PM Imran Khan said that Mainline-1 (ML-1) railway project was being constructed which would enable a person to reach from Karachi to Islamabad in eight hours whereas from Lahore to Islamabad in 2.5 hours. “This whole region is undergoing a huge change and K-P would benefit immensely from the changing situation,” he added.
He said that Pakistan was rapidly getting industrialized in the 1960s but then we made huge mistakes and started to get reindustrialized, immensely halting the progress of the nation.
He further said that K-P suffered enormously due to the terrorism in the country. However, the province now was on the right track.
The agreement provides a roadmap for the establishment of SEZ while holding the federal and provincial governments and the developer jointly responsible for the development and successful operations of economic zone.
The Rashakai SEZ will be developed under a public-private partnership by the K-P Economic Zone Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC) in collaboration with the China Road and Bridge Corporation.
The $128 million projects, sprawling over 1,000 acres of land, was awarded the SEZ status on August 6, 2019, and its Concession Agreement was signed in April 2019.
The Rashakai SEZ has an advantage due to its proximity to the first juncture of CPEC route, and significant resource and manufacturing base in the region.