Pakistan PM proposes turning CPEC into ‘trilateral arrangement’, extending to Turkey

Karachi, May 20 (PTI) Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday proposed that the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) be turned into a “trilateral arrangement” between China, Pakistan and Turkey so that all three friendly nations could benefit from its potential.

Sharif made the remarks while addressing a launching ceremony at Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works for the third MILGEM Corvette built by Turkey.

“Trade activities have the potential to increase manifold with the development of financial and industrial activities. The ongoing CPEC project is set to translate our desire to enhance regional connectivity and maximise trade […] with Gwadar at its focal point,” Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper quoted the prime minister as saying.

“I would like to avail this opportunity to propose that let this CPEC be a trilateral arrangement between China, Pakistan and Turkey and let us benefit from its wonderful potential to benefit our nations,” he added, assuring the participants that the Pakistani government was committed to developing maritime infrastructure.

The CPEC is an ambitious USD 60-billion project that Islamabad says will transform Pakistan by improving the country’s infrastructure, energy, industrialisation, socio-economic development needs and bring an improvement in livelihoods of the people.

The ambitious CPEC is a 3,000-km long route of infrastructure projects connecting China’s northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and the Gwadar Port in the western Pakistan province of Balochistan.

India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Shehbaz also lauded the launch of the warship built with the cooperation of a Turkish company.

“This is yet another great example of cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey under [the] very able and dynamic leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is not only a great brother and friend but also a great supporter of Pakistan’s cause, and under his leadership our mutual fraternal relations have transformed into much higher heights than before.,” he said, lauding Turkey for assisting in the development of the warship.

He pointed out that people were witnessing the cooperation between the two countries in all fields, reiterating that the friendly relations could be further strengthened to benefit Pakistan and Turkey by extending the China-led project to Turkey.

Giving the example of the MILGEM project, the Turkish president via a video link said that his country was willing to share its expertise with Pakistan in the area of defence as the country was located at a strategic location in South Asia.

“The most modern weapons and sensory systems have been used to equip these vessels,” Erdogan said, expressing the hope to further strengthen relations between the two countries.