Belt & Road in China gained new life in Pakistan when the army pushed for a $ 11 billion project | Instant News


File image of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan with Chinese President Xi Jinping | Photo: @ForeignOfficePk | Indonesia

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Karachi: The China Belt and Road Program has found new life in Pakistan with a $ 11 billion project signed last month, driven by a former lieutenant general who has revived an infrastructure plan that has languished since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office two years ago.

The countries signed agreements on June 25 and July 6 for two $ 3.9 billion hydroelectric projects in the disputed Kashmir region, and the others to improve the South Asian-era colonial railroad with $ 7.2. billion – the most expensive Chinese project in Pakistan.

Khan’s government appointed Asim Saleem Bajwa last year to run the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority, which oversees more than $ 70 billion in projects from power plants to the highway. He also joined Khan’s cabinet in late April, becoming one of more than a dozen former military officers currently in important government roles as the army expanded its influence in the country.

Chinese funding has helped rid Pakistan of the electricity deficit that has prevented exporters from fulfilling orders and large cities without electricity for most of the day. However, the implementation of several investments seems to have stalled since Khan came to power, with no new projects announced in 2018 and very few in 2019.

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the initiative in 2013, the World Bank has estimated that around $ 575 billion of energy plants, trains, roads, ports and other projects have been built or are being worked on around the world. Its progress has been slowing down More recently, it has been dogged by accusations that China lures poor countries into debt traps for its own political and strategic advantages.

“The reality is that many CPECs, such as the wider Belt and Road, have been paralyzed,” said Jonathan Hillman, a senior colleague at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, referring to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Pakistan “is a flagship ship for China Belt and Road, so the need to show progress is even more important.”

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