Shehbaz seeks Xi’s support on Karachi rail project

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Pakistan Prime Minister said that the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project would be a “gift for the people of Karachi” and bring great dividends.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday requested China for support for the planned revival of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project to end the woes of hundreds of thousands of commuters in the metropolis, the media reported.

During an address at the inauguration of a mass transit bus project, he said that KCR would be a “gift for the people of Karachi” and bring great dividends.

“I will take up this opportunity to convey my request to Beijing, NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission) and President Xi Jinping to reconsider (supporting) KCR for Karachi,” he said, adding that the project’s completion would lead to great feelings for China among the people of Karachi and the rest of the country, the Dawn reported.

During his speech, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed gratitude towards China for “strengthening Pakistan’s economy” and supporting it on all international forums.

The Islamabad Metro Bus Service project, which will run on a stretch of 11 km from Peshawar Morr to Islamabad International Airport, is expected to benefit nearly 50,000 commuters every day. The project was supposed to be launched in 2018 but was delayed.

The premier blamed PTI for the delay in the launch of the project and regretted that the route plan for Islamabad was reduced abruptly to cut the cost from Rs 16 billion to Rs 12 billion, which he said, caused immense loss to the project’s materialisation.

PM Shehbaz said that though development funds were available to complete public welfare projects during the PTI’s tenure, what the previous government lacked was the will to serve the masses.

‘CPEC to move faster’

Under the leadership of Shehbaz Sharif, the multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project will make faster headways and advances with the multi-faceted development of the flagship scheme of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), said a senior member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

PML-N senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that the CPEC would move forward with new vigour and vitality and in a rejuvenated manner under Shehbaz Sharif.

Talking about the future of collaboration and bilateral relations between Pakistan and China, Sayed highlighted that newly-elected PM Sharif gave pivotal importance to Islamabad’s relationship with China and expressed his desire to take CPEC forward at a fast pace.

“China shares a very old and longstanding relationship with Shehbaz Sharif. When the BRI was launched with CPEC as it centre piece, it was taken forward by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and then Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif,” he said.

Sayed also highlighted Pakistan’s policy to keep China as a top priority in its foreign policy.

“China is number one in terms of foreign policy priority, which the Prime Minister made clear when he listed the list of countries, and his formulation has been warmly welcomed in China. So we have no doubts,” he said.

“China is the only country for which there is across-the-border national consensus, and the entire leadership considers it to be Pakistan’s number one friend,” Sayed added.

He also expressed his confidence that CPEC projects will move forward and play a vital role in further strengthening the relations between the two countries.

“The first phase of CPEC was completed when Nawaz Sharif was the Prime Minister. The second phase is bigger and you will perhaps see acceleration in the field of agriculture, information technology and infrastructure, especially railways,” he said.

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had already announced during his visit to Karachi that his government would expand CPEC, so there would be multifaceted development of the flagship project,” he added.

Sayed said that CPEC has brought both countries closer through infrastructure and energy projects, resolving many problems.

“CPEC is the character of a better tomorrow for the people of Pakistan,” Sayed said. (with inputs from Hamza Ameer)

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