Forum: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will transform lives of millions

The Straits Times associate editor Ravi Velloor draws a bleak picture of Pakistan and some of his views need to be seen in the right perspective (Pakistan's army in an unfamiliar place - the spotlight, Nov 5).

Pakistan, since the time of partition, has faced an existential threat from its neighbour and the Pakistan Armed Forces is responsible for ensuring the country's sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity.

This, it has been doing with great valour and professionalism, as evident from last year's encounter in Balakot.

Pakistan has a stable parliamentary democracy, with a vibrant civil society, independent judiciary and a free media, and our democratic credentials cannot be questioned when compared with other countries in the region.

It has a nuclear programme that is defensive in nature and which comes under a robust command and control system, with the prime minister as its head.

The country's nuclear programme guarantees the strategic stability of the South Asian region.

The assertion that "the ties with China are born out of a shared perception of India as their common adversary" is incorrect.

Pakistan has a multifaceted, deep-rooted, all-weather strategic cooperative partnership with China that is based on mutual respect and understanding.

We also do not agree with Mr Velloor's observation that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) "is leading Pakistan into a debt trap".

While the Chinese investment of around US$60 billion (S$81 billion) in the CPEC is the biggest in the history of Pakistan, once completed, this mega connectivity project will become part of the larger Belt and Road Initiative vision and will transform the lives of more than two billion people.

With Iran and Afghanistan joining CPEC, it will become a harbinger for peace and prosperity for the whole region connecting it to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Pakistan's public debt relating to CPEC projects is less than 10 per cent of its total debt. Moreover, it has a maturity period of 20 years at the interest rate of 2.34 per cent.

Rukhsana Afzaal

High Commissioner

Pakistan High Commission

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