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Archive for May, 2017

If US Betrays Pakistan’s Trust Again, Redress May Not Be Possible

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army of questionable loyalty.

The search for “good” Taliban is on in Afghanistan; the U.S. has announced that no action is to be taken against those who are not a threat to the U.S., including Mullah Omar.

The United States has said that after Jan. 2, 2015, the U.S. Army will not take any action against Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders in Afghanistan if they pose no direct threat to the United States. Addressing a press conference in Washington, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that the U.S. will not operate against anyone simply on the basis of their being Taliban members. Nevertheless, he used the occasion to clarify that those who fight will not be spared by any means. Kirby emphasized that any Taliban who operate against the U.S. or against its Afghan partners will automatically fall within the scope of the U.S. military operation.

Addressing the final news conference for the year last Friday, President Barack Obama reassured the American public that he is committed to his promise to end the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Obama said that in less than even two weeks, the U.S. mission that has continued in Afghanistan for more than 13 years will come to an end. However, Obama gave full permission to his troops to combat extremists in the event of their becoming direct threats to the U.S. or to Afghan forces.

After 9/11, America’s enemies in this region were al-Qaida and the Taliban. The U.S. and its allies needed Pakistan’s cooperation in confronting these enemies, cooperation which Pakistan provided. With this cooperation, and with the use of modern arms and trained armies, the U.S. and its allies totally crushed Afghanistan. Ammunition and iron rained down on the land of Afghanistan, and land forces also employed their talents and weaponry to the full extent. Thousands of al-Qaida members and Taliban were killed, and at the same time, hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were also killed, including children, old people and women. In the words of America, it broke the back of al-Qaida.

The Taliban were removed from power but could not be eliminated. They still exist as a force in Afghanistan and some other countries, and the U.S. has even carried out direct, as well as indirect and secret, negotiations with them at times. Although the U.S. stayed in Afghanistan for 13 years with full pomp and power, it could not realize its desire to completely eliminate the Taliban; nor could it persuade the Taliban to cooperate with the Afghan government. Now that a big part of the U.S. Army will be leaving Afghanistan in about a week and a half, without coffins, the Americans are hoping that the Taliban who continued to confront them for 13 years will start behaving like good children and pledge allegiance to Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. This is not simply an illusion or a misconception on the part of the U.S., but inane thinking. The Taliban maintain a hold in many areas of Afghanistan and influence in several others; they are simply lying in wait for the U.S. and its allies to leave Afghanistan — when they can implement their plan to occupy Kabul.

Despite the presence of tens of thousands of military experts and their operations, the governments of the previous Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and current President Ashraf Ghani have remained weak in most areas other than in cities such as Kabul. At the beginning of the coming year, following evacuation of NATO forces from Afghanistan, the government of Ashraf Ghani will have to face severe problems despite having full or partial authority in different regions. Perhaps the U.S. and the Afghan administrations are relying on the 150,000 members of the [Afghan] National Guard. But these are the very U.S.-trained soldiers who carried out dozens of attacks on their American teachers. It is possible that tomorrow these U.S.-trained soldiers will be seen standing in support of the Taliban in the same way that the army of President Hafizullah Amin joined the Taliban following the Russian evacuation.

The U.S. defeated Russia with help from Pakistan; it then took the route home, leaving Afghanistan in a state of anarchy and leaving Pakistan suffering to this day from the ill effects of its actions. Had the U.S. restored peace in Afghanistan by establishing a strong government there, the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees would not still be a weight on Pakistan after 35 years. As it did in the past, the U.S. is once again leaving Afghanistan without any planning. Pakistan today is in the grip of terrorism and lawlessness that is stronger than any it experienced in the past. Pakistani Taliban — products of the Afghan[istan] War — have turned the whole country into an ammunition pile.

On Dec. 16 these terrorists, carrying out the worst example of brutality and barbarity in human history, bathed hundreds of children in dust and blood at the Military Public School in Peshawar. According to the brutal terrorists, this was retaliation for operation Zarb-e-Azb, being conducted by the Pakistani army to eliminate the terrorists. Following this incident, the whole country united under the Nawaz Sharif government for the elimination of terrorists. The prime minister lifted restrictions on the death penalty to be effective immediately. So far there have been six executions, while gallows have been constructed in prisons for more.

After the Peshawar incident, the government immediately called a conference of parliamentary parties in an effort to form a working group that would reach a consensus regarding a strategy. Yesterday, this group agreed on eight recommendations including the establishment of military courts and repatriation of Afghan refugees. The prime minister was briefed about these recommendations and, in this context, has called a meeting of parliamentary parties to approve an action plan based on the working group’s recommendations. The meeting will be attended by political leaders, including Imran Khan.

Along with execution of terrorists, the Pakistani army is conducting rapid operations in which 200 terrorists were killed within a week and twice the number arrested. In the most recent action in Karachi, 13 terrorists belonging to al-Qaida and the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban were killed in confrontations; arms and suicide jackets were recovered from them. About 300 suspected terrorists were arrested in operations carried out in Mansehra and Islamabad.

Pakistan helped the U.S. with its heart and soul in the war against terrorism, as a result of which, the flames of warfare that were extinguished in Afghanistan have started flaring up in Pakistan. Until yesterday, the U.S. was placing pressure on Pakistan to take evenhanded action against those who posed a danger to Pakistan as well as those who did not pose a danger to Pakistan, without discrimination. Now the U.S. is in search of “good” Taliban in Afghanistan.

Whether the matter relates to Pakistan or to Afghanistan, “good” Taliban are those who give up arms. Taking the position that we will not confront those who are not confronting us is equivalent to deceiving oneself. This thinking is no different from saying that “you cannot use your weapons; but if your reservations lead you to wield arms, then we will also retaliate.” Prior to the U.S. invasion, the nature of the Taliban position in Afghanistan was no different from this; they had not hurt U.S. interests and even bin Laden had not stood up with his gun in Afghanistan. Still, the U.S. placed a price of $10 million on Mullah Omar’s head. In light of the U.S. statement today, how would the U.S. treat him if he makes an appearance at the beginning of next year, decorate him with garlands?

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army (the [Afghan] National Guard) of questionable loyalty. Further, the fire of terrorism is blazing in Pakistan. Should the U.S. once again leave Pakistan without its friendship and support — as it has done in the past — then Pakistan will eventually emerge from the morass after it faces difficulty. However, its trust in the U.S. will be finished and it will not wish to cooperate with the U.S. ever again. It is possible that in only a few months following evacuation, the U.S. will be in need of Pakistan’s cooperation in Afghanistan.

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Hillary laughs when Pak woman compares US to never-satisfied mother-in-law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The search for “good” Taliban is on in Afghanistan; the U.S. has announced that no action is to be taken against those who are not a threat to the U.S., including Mullah Omar.

The United States has said that after Jan. 2, 2015, the U.S. Army will not take any action against Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders in Afghanistan if they pose no direct threat to the United States. Addressing a press conference in Washington, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said that the U.S. will not operate against anyone simply on the basis of their being Taliban members. Nevertheless, he used the occasion to clarify that those who fight will not be spared by any means. Kirby emphasized that any Taliban who operate against the U.S. or against its Afghan partners will automatically fall within the scope of the U.S. military operation.

Addressing the final news conference for the year last Friday, President Barack Obama reassured the American public that he is committed to his promise to end the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Obama said that in less than even two weeks, the U.S. mission that has continued in Afghanistan for more than 13 years will come to an end. However, Obama gave full permission to his troops to combat extremists in the event of their becoming direct threats to the U.S. or to Afghan forces.

After 9/11, America’s enemies in this region were al-Qaida and the Taliban. The U.S. and its allies needed Pakistan’s cooperation in confronting these enemies, cooperation which Pakistan provided. With this cooperation, and with the use of modern arms and trained armies, the U.S. and its allies totally crushed Afghanistan. Ammunition and iron rained down on the land of Afghanistan, and land forces also employed their talents and weaponry to the full extent. Thousands of al-Qaida members and Taliban were killed, and at the same time, hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens were also killed, including children, old people and women. In the words of America, it broke the back of al-Qaida.

The Taliban were removed from power but could not be eliminated. They still exist as a force in Afghanistan and some other countries, and the U.S. has even carried out direct, as well as indirect and secret, negotiations with them at times. Although the U.S. stayed in Afghanistan for 13 years with full pomp and power, it could not realize its desire to completely eliminate the Taliban; nor could it persuade the Taliban to cooperate with the Afghan government. Now that a big part of the U.S. Army will be leaving Afghanistan in about a week and a half, without coffins, the Americans are hoping that the Taliban who continued to confront them for 13 years will start behaving like good children and pledge allegiance to Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. This is not simply an illusion or a misconception on the part of the U.S., but inane thinking. The Taliban maintain a hold in many areas of Afghanistan and influence in several others; they are simply lying in wait for the U.S. and its allies to leave Afghanistan — when they can implement their plan to occupy Kabul.

Despite the presence of tens of thousands of military experts and their operations, the governments of the previous Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and current President Ashraf Ghani have remained weak in most areas other than in cities such as Kabul. At the beginning of the coming year, following evacuation of NATO forces from Afghanistan, the government of Ashraf Ghani will have to face severe problems despite having full or partial authority in different regions. Perhaps the U.S. and the Afghan administrations are relying on the 150,000 members of the [Afghan] National Guard. But these are the very U.S.-trained soldiers who carried out dozens of attacks on their American teachers. It is possible that tomorrow these U.S.-trained soldiers will be seen standing in support of the Taliban in the same way that the army of President Hafizullah Amin joined the Taliban following the Russian evacuation.

The U.S. defeated Russia with help from Pakistan; it then took the route home, leaving Afghanistan in a state of anarchy and leaving Pakistan suffering to this day from the ill effects of its actions. Had the U.S. restored peace in Afghanistan by establishing a strong government there, the hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees would not still be a weight on Pakistan after 35 years. As it did in the past, the U.S. is once again leaving Afghanistan without any planning. Pakistan today is in the grip of terrorism and lawlessness that is stronger than any it experienced in the past. Pakistani Taliban — products of the Afghan[istan] War — have turned the whole country into an ammunition pile.

On Dec. 16 these terrorists, carrying out the worst example of brutality and barbarity in human history, bathed hundreds of children in dust and blood at the Military Public School in Peshawar. According to the brutal terrorists, this was retaliation for operation Zarb-e-Azb, being conducted by the Pakistani army to eliminate the terrorists. Following this incident, the whole country united under the Nawaz Sharif government for the elimination of terrorists. The prime minister lifted restrictions on the death penalty to be effective immediately. So far there have been six executions, while gallows have been constructed in prisons for more.

After the Peshawar incident, the government immediately called a conference of parliamentary parties in an effort to form a working group that would reach a consensus regarding a strategy. Yesterday, this group agreed on eight recommendations including the establishment of military courts and repatriation of Afghan refugees. The prime minister was briefed about these recommendations and, in this context, has called a meeting of parliamentary parties to approve an action plan based on the working group’s recommendations. The meeting will be attended by political leaders, including Imran Khan.

Along with execution of terrorists, the Pakistani army is conducting rapid operations in which 200 terrorists were killed within a week and twice the number arrested. In the most recent action in Karachi, 13 terrorists belonging to al-Qaida and the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban were killed in confrontations; arms and suicide jackets were recovered from them. About 300 suspected terrorists were arrested in operations carried out in Mansehra and Islamabad.

Pakistan helped the U.S. with its heart and soul in the war against terrorism, as a result of which, the flames of warfare that were extinguished in Afghanistan have started flaring up in Pakistan. Until yesterday, the U.S. was placing pressure on Pakistan to take evenhanded action against those who posed a danger to Pakistan as well as those who did not pose a danger to Pakistan, without discrimination. Now the U.S. is in search of “good” Taliban in Afghanistan.

Whether the matter relates to Pakistan or to Afghanistan, “good” Taliban are those who give up arms. Taking the position that we will not confront those who are not confronting us is equivalent to deceiving oneself. This thinking is no different from saying that “you cannot use your weapons; but if your reservations lead you to wield arms, then we will also retaliate.” Prior to the U.S. invasion, the nature of the Taliban position in Afghanistan was no different from this; they had not hurt U.S. interests and even bin Laden had not stood up with his gun in Afghanistan. Still, the U.S. placed a price of $10 million on Mullah Omar’s head. In light of the U.S. statement today, how would the U.S. treat him if he makes an appearance at the beginning of next year, decorate him with garlands?

America is preparing to leave Afghanistan at the mercy of a lame government and an army (the [Afghan] National Guard) of questionable loyalty. Further, the fire of terrorism is blazing in Pakistan. Should the U.S. once again leave Pakistan without its friendship and support — as it has done in the past — then Pakistan will eventually emerge from the morass after it faces difficulty. However, its trust in the U.S. will be finished and it will not wish to cooperate with the U.S. ever again. It is possible that in only a few months following evacuation, the U.S. will be in need of Pakistan’s cooperation in Afghanistan.

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For all the chest-thumping, India cannot win a war against Pakistan QUARTZ, India’s Reality Check

For all the chest-thumping, India cannot win a war against Pakistan 

by

Col (Retd) Raghu Raman,  

Indian Army

Background Note: Pakistan Army is Battle-Hardened Fighting a Guerrilla And Fourth Generation War & its Greatest Success is Defeating Pakistan Taliban & Afghan Army Irregulars & Capturing Indian Terrorism Mastermind Indian Navy Intelligence Commander Kulbhushan Jadav. A Joint US-India-Afghanistan Intelligence Agencies Operation is ongoing against Pakistan Army and the people of Pakistan. Its aim is to demoralize Pakistan Army and de-nuclearize Pakistan by creating a rift between the Pakistan Army and Pakistani People. This operation has been a miserable failure as people of Pakistan have love and respect for their armed forces, who have sacrificed 70,000 military,civil armed forces,police,levies,scouts, and mujahid forces lives for the motherland. Pakistan Army is the only force in the world, which has defeated a Guerilla Force of Pakistani Taliban in N & S.Waziristan in Operation Radd-ul-Fasad and rehabilitated 1 Million displace persons.
May 24, 2017 Quartz India

In the 1983 film WarGames, a nuclear war simulation is accidentally started by a supercomputer designed to take over in the event of the Cold War spiralling out of control. After evaluating all the possibilities, the computer declares that “war is a strange game, in which the only winning move—is not to play.” That advice is possibly truest for India right now.

For all the xenophobic war mongering touted in every medium, India cannot “win” a war against Pakistan and the sooner we appreciate this politico-military reality, the more coherent and serious we will sound to our adversaries and the world community. The demands for a “once and for all” resolution of Kashmir/Pakistan emanating from several quarters, which surprisingly includes some veterans—equating India’s non-retaliation with impotence—perhaps don’t factor the larger picture and the stark truth of modern military warfare.

Matter of fact, short of total genocide, no country regardless of its war-withal can hope to achieve a decisive victory with a “short war” in today’s world. As the US is discovering eight years, trillion dollars, and over 25,000 casualties later—in Afghanistan. That era of “decisive” short wars, especially in the Indo-Pak context, is largely over because of several reasons. That era of “decisive” short wars, especially in the Indo-Pak context, is largely over. 

Firstly, the much vaunted Indian military superiority is largely an accounting subterfuge. Sure we have more soldiers, tanks, aircraft, and ships than Pakistan, but banking on mere numbers is misleading and irrelevant in military strategy. Pakistan has successfully locked down over 30% of our army in internal counter insurgency roles that not only sucks in combat troops from their primary roles for prolonged periods, but also alienates the local population in the valley.

The major reason for the Pakistani Op Gibraltar’s failure in 1965 was the overwhelming loyalty of Kashmiri locals towards India. Disguised Pakistani troops who had infiltrated into the valley to incite rebellions were caught by the locals and promptly handed over to the Indian security forces. Fifty years later, sentiment in the valley is very different. And this “turning move” has been achieved by Pakistan with a ridiculously low investment of merely a few hundred terrorists and psychological operations.

Another substantial part of our army is locked down in the North East insurgency and we are still trying to build adequate force levels against our much stronger adversary all along our border with China. India’s Chinese front is in a tenuous state because of decades of neglect and the massive infrastructure China has built to be able to mobilise several divisions in a matter of hours into that theatre.

Most worryingly, Pakistan and China have achieved military interoperability, which is the capability of their two armies to execute joint missions against a common target. Decades of mutual cooperation, technology transfer, training, equipment sales, and of course a common enemy, have welded our two adversaries into a formidable joint force. Pakistan’s accelerated achievements in nuclear technology, missile delivery systems, logistic supply chain of equipment, and spares as well as new-age technologies such as cyber and drone warfare are all the result of cooperation between the two countries.

In contrast, India has not even been able to integrate its three services, what to speak of assimilation with political leadership, industry, academia and indigenous defence capabilities. As Praveen Sahwney points out in his book “The Dragon on our doorsteps,” India has primarily focused on developing its military arsenal whereas Pakistan and China have been developing war waging capabilities, which is a synthesis of many strengths other than just military force.

Secondly, Pakistan has leveraged its geopolitical position far more strategically than India has been able to. India has traditionally relied on moral high ground to achieve global consensus and support. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the world’s largest democracy, wedged in between a communist adversary and a rapidly radicalising Islamic nation got global mindshare and sympathy. Though none of that translated into meaningful benefits for India per se, our foreign policy continues to have the hangover of “doing the right thing.” Unfortunately, in the harsh reality of the contemporary world that doesn’t count for much. Pakistan has leveraged its geopolitical position far more strategically than India has been able to. 

Russia, our traditional all-weather friend, has far greater bonhomie with both the US and China than ever before. The US needs Pakistan to achieve closure in Afghanistan so much so, that despite the blatant betrayal of shielding America’s public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden, the US has no choice but to continue supporting Pakistan financially and militarily. On the other hand Pakistan’s dependence on the US has reduced dramatically with China filling in the gap.

China’s “One Belt One Road” project coursing through the length of Pakistan has pretty much made the two permanent partners. China’s economic aspirations and access to the Arabian Sea through Baluchistan ending at Gwadar port is a strategic masterstroke by Pakistan and China. Not only is it a win-win for them but it is also a “lose-lose” for India for many reasons.

Firstly, the only area where India could try a meaningful riposte to Pakistan-sponsored insurgency would be Baluchistan. By tying in China’s stake of keeping Baluchistan under control, Pakistan has made it extraordinarily difficult for India to make any aggressive move in its south without threatening Chinese interests. The same is true for any Indian military action in the theatres of Kashmir or Punjab. Any Indian operation that endangers thousands of Chinese citizens working on the CPEC project in Pakistan will draw the wrath of China and give them the loco standi to initiate hostilities against India. So beyond shallow skirmishes all along the border, India really has no operational or strategic options without the risk of drawing China into a two-front war.

Pakistan has correctly appreciated that the force levels which India will be able to muster against it will be more or less evenly matched, and in the event of Indo-Pak hostilities, they can depend on China for their logistics supply chain as well as splitting the Indian armed forces’ resources and focus by mobilising PLA divisions along the border with India. This would in effect, pin down a substantial part of the Indian Army’s reserves to cater for the eastern front.

Also, now there too many stakeholders dependent on the success of the “One Belt One Road”/CPEC project and any disturbance in this area would be attributed to India’s truculence rather than Pakistan’s interference into Kashmir. China combine has positioned the OBOR as an Asian developmental initiative, whereas the Kashmir problem has been positioned as a bilateral local issue—by none other than India itself. So, rather than looking like the visionary big player in the Asian growth story, India is at the risk of being perceived as the obdurate party incapable of setting aside bilateral issues for the larger good of the region. And with dark clouds hovering over their own respective challenges, none of the world’s major powers, the US, UK, Russia or France, will have the gumption to interfere militarily in an Indo-Pak conflict that has the potential to draw in the fifth permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Politically too, India is in no position to consider a short war. The current political dispensation is only just gathering momentum on its electoral manifestoes, the lynchpin of which is economic development. That necessitates a stable and peaceful environment. War clouds are an antithesis for economic investments. Even preparation for war costs billions of dollars in terms of resources and mindshare, a diversion that India can scarcely afford when millions of youth are entering the job market whose un-channelised energies is another potential risk.

For a nation to go to war, all its pillars of strength, including its military, economic prowess, industrial capability, external alliances and national will must be aligned in a singular direction to achieve meaningful success. War waging is not about bombastic threats, surgical strikes, cross-border firing or clamorous bellowing on TV channels. That is called letting off steam. There is an old couplet by Ramdhari Dinkar which suggests that forgiveness befits a snake which has venom in its bite—not one which is weak, toothless, and harmless. To be taken seriously, India needs to build that strength first rather than spewing ineffectual rhetoric.

This post first appeared on Medium. We welcome your comments at ideas.india@qz.com.

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Video: TV host accuses Hollywood actor of assaulting daughter at talent show in Dubai in GULF NEWS

Nadia Khan claims her teenage daughter was grabbed from the shoulder and pushed so hard she fell.Image Credit: @Xpress/Devadasan
Hundreds of parents queued up for the casting session at The Ritz-Cartlon HotelImage Credit: @Xpress/Mazhar Farooqui

DUBAI 
Pakistani actress and TV presenter Nadia Khan has filed a police complaint against the CEO of a popular American children’s talent hunt agency accusing him of assaulting her teenage daughter during an audition in Dubai last weekend.

 

 


Dubai-based Nadia, said the incident has left her 14-year-old bruised and badly shaken.

Hundreds of parents took their children to the casting session at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel in JBR on May 20 in the hope of turning their sons and daughters into television stars.

However, many left disillusion-ed as the audition was disrupted after Nadia called the police at the venue and the company’s 47-year-old CEO was held for questioning.

The American actor/producer whose company claims to represent some of the biggest music and television shows in the US, was later summoned to Al Barsha Police Station where a complaint was filed.

The injuries. The 14-year-old’s arms remained sore days after the shocking incident on May 20


Traumatic experience

Nadia recounted her traumatic experience with undercover XPRESS journalists who were at the event on a tip-off that the agency asks for astronomical amounts of money from parents when their children make the cut.

Choking back her tears, Nadia said, “I went to the audition hoping it would be good for my child, but instead got the shock of my life. When my daughter’s turn came, the judge, (name withheld for legal reasons) grabbed her roughly from the shoulder and pulled her, leaving her with deep bruises on both arms.”

Clinching evidence. Shortly after the incident, Nadia claimed she took her daughter to Dubai’s Rashid Hospital where a medical report concluded that the multiple bruises on both arms were caused by assault.


Medical report

A medical report confirmed the multiple bruises. “It happened quickly and in front of me and at least 30-40 other parents. Before my daughter, they were auditioning small children. She was the first teenager in that batch. My daughter was given a two-line script but before she could read it, she was grabbed and pushed so hard she fell on one of the parents. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. She is my daughter. No one has the right to touch my child let alone subject her to public humiliation and physical abuse,” said Nadia, adding that the incident has shattered her daughter’s confidence. “She was crying all day,” she said.

Nadia’s daughter said what hurt her most was that the physical abuse happened in front of ex-Disney stars and they did nothing to stop it. “I used to idolise these stars. Not anymore,” she told XPRESS.

Nadia said when she tried to raise the issue with the organisers they were rude to her and forced her to leave.

According to her, the next contestant – an Asian boy — was repeatedly slapped in the face during the audition.

“It was bizarre. The man kept slapping the child until a time came when the boy couldn’t take it anymore and slapped him back. “I feel equally bad for the boy. He had tears in his eyes. Abuse is abuse whether it happens to a boy or a girl,” she said.

Significantly, this is not the first time the CEO of the talent hunt agency has courted controversy. A YouTube video from a similar event in Singapore shows him spitting on a young girl.

Al Kabel, an officer at Al Barsha Police Station, said the police has taken statements of Nadia and her daughter and are waiting for witnesses to come forward.

Attempts to seek a comment from the talent agency were met with threats of a lawsuit. “I find it offensive and disgusting that a news organisation and a reporter would attempt to publish information to the public without allowing the proper authorities to finish their work,” stated an email from them in response to an XPRESS query.

– With inputs from Sara Waqar

What our investigations revealed

XPRESS undercover journalists who attended the audition at The Ritz-Carlton found that the talent and management agency uses a classic ‘bait and switch’ sales strategy to lure parents to their events and then seeks huge sums of money from them for giving acting classes to their children.

A Dubai-based mother whose eight-year-old daughter cleared the first round said she was sent an email asking her to revisit The Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Monday for a second evaluation and be prepared to pay if her child passes it.

“The forms of payment we accept are Visa or MasterCard. The payment is expected today if your child passes the second evaluation,” read the email, a copy of which is with XPRESS. Children passing the second evaluation are recommended one of five ‘Option Levels’ with fees ranging from $1,950 (Dh7,162) to $7,900.

“This is a rip-off. They are just after your money,” said another parent whose child was recommended the Fifth Option Level and asked to fork out $7,900.

Most who showed up for the audition said they learnt about the talent hunt from Facebook sponsored posts calling for children to audition for their chance to meet Disney Channel stars.

“Does your child dream of becoming a Disney Channel star? We are coming to Dubai!” the post reads. On its part the agency never says that this is an audition for Disney, but the clever wording of their advertisements and the presence of Disney stars often leads parents into believing that the company is associated with the Walt Disney Company.

Disney spokespersons have repeatedly clarified that these child talent auditions are in no way associated with or endorsed by The Walt Disney Company or Disney Channel.

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Debunking Myths on CPEC by Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning & Development

Ahsan Iqbal is the most capable minister in the mediocre and incompetent Nawaz Sharif. In the dark cloud of corruption, Mr.Iqbal is a silver lining. This is a well written article debunking propaganda originating from enemies of CPEC, China, and Pakistan. Here Ahsan Iqbal gives CPEC, a Reality Check. Editor, PTT

 

Debunking Myths on CPEC    

by

Ahsan Iqbal,

Pakistan Minister for Planning & Development

Recently, quite a few stories have appeared on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in both local and international publications. A lot of traction was gained by the cynics of CPEC by reporting factually incorrect information. Consequently, myth spurring on CPEC is on the rise. I am going to take this opportunity to debunk these myths by stating the facts.

A pointless controversy was created on the Long Term Plan (LTP) by a recent article featured in a local English-language newspaper. The report published as ‘LTP’ in that article was an initial draft by the China Development Bank (CDB) and not a part of the agreed LTP. That article basically cherry-picked information from different sources to present a distorted picture of the LTP. The fact is that the government of Pakistan has prepared its own plan after multiple stages of consultation with provinces, federal ministries and their respective technical groups. The LTP has been prepared to develop Pakistan in line with the seven pillars of Vision 2025 which are predicated on the notion of inclusive and sustainable development. The main pillars of LTP are connectivity, energy, industries and industrial parks, agricultural development and poverty alleviation, tourism, cooperation in areas concerning people’s livelihood and financial cooperation. It was shared with the Chinese authorities following approval by the cabinet.

The Chinese side has given its approval in principle, however, its formal approval is expected by the end of this month, as our Chinese counterparts were occupied by the Belt Road Forum. As soon as we get the official approval from the Chinese side, we will put the LTP on the CPEC website.

One of the biggest myths propagated on CPEC is that Pakistan might become a colony/province of China. Any historian would tell you that colonialism and imperialism are legacies of countries of the global north. China has never invaded any country nor harboured any imperial designs. Cynics point out towards rising trade deficit with China as a reason to show concern on CPEC. The reality is that China’s competitiveness in exports is universal and not idiosyncratic to Pakistan. Pakistan’s current trade deficit with China is $6.2 billion. In comparison, India’s trade deficit with China stands at $47 billion. The US trade deficit with China is $347 billion. Based on these trade deficit numbers, is it appropriate to infer that the US or India are becoming colonies/provinces of China? Certainly not. Similarly, it is ludicrous to make such claims about the Pakistan-China relationship. Both countries respect the sovereignty of each other and CPEC is based on the shared vision of both countries: Vision 2025 and OBOR.

At present, only a few thousand Chinese nationals are living in Pakistan and making a positive contribution towards our economy, the majority of them fall in the category of temporary labour migrants who will return back upon completion of the projects. In contrast, around 8 million Chinese are living in Malaysia, 400,000 in France; 600,000 in Japan; 900,000 in Canada and over 2.5 million are living in the US. Therefore, to say that Chinese are overtaking Pakistani society is nothing but a farce. Chinese nationals working in Pakistan are our national guests as they are helping us to build a developed Pakistan.

Another myth spread on CPEC is that China is dictating terms to Pakistan and the federal government is not consulting the provinces. The reality is quite the opposite. China and Pakistan work jointly in making an overall planning for a unified development of CPEC projects. In this regard, the Long Term Plan, Transport Monographic Study and respective MoUs guide the policy for CPEC.

All provinces have been consulted and invited to all meetings within Pakistan and abroad for their recommendations and review of CPEC projects. Earlier this month, the chief ministers of all four provinces under the leadership of PM Sharif attended OBOR Summit in China. On 29th December 2016, all CMs participated in the 6th JCC meeting which was held in Beijing. For institutional arrangement and development of CPEC, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China along with the Planning, Development & Reform Ministry of Pakistan have constituted subsidiary working groups of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on planning, transport infrastructure, energy, Gwadar and industry cooperation.

Since the signing of the MoU in July 2013, six meetings of the JCC have been held. The highest officials of every provincial government are represented in JCC meetings. It is impossible to hide or misrepresent any information on CPEC from provinces. Information on ongoing and agreed CPEC projects is available on the official website of CPEC. Moreover, the planning ministry is always available to address any queries regarding CPEC. All the Chinese companies involved in CPEC projects are nominated by their government. Therefore, there is no question of favouritism on the part of the government of Pakistan.

Another myth propagated around is that Pakistan is not going to gain any economic benefits from CPEC and it is tantamount to the 2006 Free Trade agreement (FTA) with China. First of all, let me explain that an FTA works out on the basis of demand and supply of market forces. China enjoys a competitive edge in exports vis-à-vis all other economies of the world, including Pakistan, whereas CPEC is qualitatively different from an FTA. It provides necessary stimulus to kickstart the processes of industrialisation in Pakistan. Without sufficient electricity and adequate infrastructure, it is not possible to carry out industrialisation.

CPEC brings $35 billion investments in energy projects. Alongside coal, clean and renewable energy projects are part of the CPEC energy portfolio. The existing energy policy was made before the CPEC MoU was signed between China and Pakistan. Prior to CPEC, nobody was interested in making investments in our energy sector. At that crucial time, China took a lead and demonstrated to the world that Pakistan is a reliable and secure destination for foreign investments. Energy investments under CPEC will remove a major bottleneck that is in the way of realising high economic growth. It will reinforce the main grid structure, power transmission, distribution network, and improve power supply. Currently, 14 energy projects are in the implementation stage. Through CPEC projects, 10,000MW of electricity will be added to the national grid. Only 16,000MW was added to the national grid from 1947 to 2013. Moreover, energy projects under CPEC are not funded by Chinese loans instead they are undertaken in the IPP mode regulated as per NEPRA tariffs. Average cost of these projects is lower than the current cost of production of energy.

Under CPEC, new road and rail networks are to be built in all four provinces to enhance and improve connectivity within Pakistan. In addition to economic benefits of connectivity, social and regional cohesion will increase within Pakistan and in the region. Once energy and infrastructure bottlenecks are addressed, it is estimated that GDP will at least increase by more than 2 per cent from its current trend.

Similarly, one of the important components of the CPEC framework is industrial cooperation. Nine industrial zones were included in it with equal representation of all provinces. The cost of production is steadily increasing for many industries in China due to increase in wages. It is estimated that 85 million jobs will be relocated and countries in the Far East, Asia and Africa are competing for these jobs. Pakistan wants to secure a big share of the relocation of these industries and jobs. Once relocated, this will create a huge demand for labour in Pakistan and enormous employment opportunities will be available for Pakistanis.

In the current projects of CPEC, two thirds of the workforce is Pakistani and only a critical mass of labour force comes from China. This is a great opportunity for the Pakistani workforce to learn and update their skills from their Chinese counterparts. Already a boom in steel, cement and construction industries has created multiplier effects in the overall economy.

Economic benefits of CPEC are net positive for Pakistan. CPEC is a golden opportunity for Pakistan to undo the mistakes of the past and we, as a nation, cannot afford to be complacent about it.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2017.

Jointly Shoulder Responsibility of Our Times,
Promote Global Growth

Keynote Speech by H.E. Xi Jinping
President of the People’s Republic of China
At the Opening Session
Of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017

Davos, 17 January 2017

President Doris Leuthard and Mr. Roland Hausin,
Heads of State and Government, Deputy Heads of State and Your Spouses,
Heads of International Organizations,
Dr. Klaus Schwab and Mrs. Hilde Schwab,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

I’m delighted to come to beautiful Davos. Though just a small town in the Alps, Davos is an important window for taking the pulse of the global economy. People from around the world come here to exchange ideas and insights, which broaden their vision. This makes the WEF annual meeting a cost-effective brainstorming event, which I would call “Schwab economics”.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” These are the words used by the English writer Charles Dickens to describe the world after the Industrial Revolution. Today, we also live in a world of contradictions. On the one hand, with growing material wealth and advances in science and technology, human civilization has developed as never before. On the other hand, frequent regional conflicts, global challenges like terrorism and refugees, as well as poverty, unemployment and widening income gap have all added to the uncertainties of the world.

Many people feel bewildered and wonder: What has gone wrong with the world?

To answer this question, one must first track the source of the problem. Some blame economic globalization for the chaos in the world. Economic globalization was once viewed as the treasure cave found by Ali Baba in The Arabian Nights, but it has now become the Pandora’s box in the eyes of many. The international community finds itself in a heated debate on economic globalization.

Today, I wish to address the global economy in the context of economic globalization.

The point I want to make is that many of the problems troubling the world are not caused by economic globalization. For instance, the refugee waves from the Middle East and North Africa in recent years have become a global concern. Several million people have been displaced, and some small children lost their lives while crossing the rough sea. This is indeed heartbreaking. It is war, conflict and regional turbulence that have created this problem, and its solution lies in making peace, promoting reconciliation and restoring stability. The international financial crisis is another example. It is not an inevitable outcome of economic globalization; rather, it is the consequence of excessive chase of profit by financial capital and grave failure of financial regulation. Just blaming economic globalization for the world’s problems is inconsistent with reality, and it will not help solve the problems.

From the historical perspective, economic globalization resulted from growing social productivity, and is a natural outcome of scientific and technological progress, not something created by any individuals or any countries. Economic globalization has powered global growth and facilitated movement of goods and capital, advances in science, technology and civilization, and interactions among peoples.

But we should also recognize that economic globalization is a double-edged sword. When the global economy is under downward pressure, it is hard to make the cake of global economy bigger. It may even shrink, which will strain the relations between growth and distribution, between capital and labor, and between efficiency and equity. Both developed and developing countries have felt the punch. Voices against globalization have laid bare pitfalls in the process of economic globalization that we need to take seriously.

As a line in an old Chinese poem goes, “Honey melons hang on bitter vines; sweet dates grow on thistles and thorns.” In a philosophical sense, nothing is perfect in the world. One would fail to see the full picture if he claims something is perfect because of its merits, or if he views something as useless just because of its defects. It is true that economic globalization has created new problems, but this is no justification to write economic globalization off completely. Rather, we should adapt to and guide economic globalization, cushion its negative impact, and deliver its benefits to all countries and all nations.

There was a time when China also had doubts about economic globalization, and was not sure whether it should join the World Trade Organization. But we came to the conclusion that integration into the global economy is a historical trend. To grow its economy, China must have the courage to swim in the vast ocean of the global market. If one is always afraid of bracing the storm and exploring the new world, he will sooner or later get drowned in the ocean. Therefore, China took a brave step to embrace the global market. We have had our fair share of choking in the water and encountered whirlpools and choppy waves, but we have learned how to swim in this process. It has proved to be a right strategic choice.

Whether you like it or not, the global economy is the big ocean that you cannot escape from. Any attempt to cut off the flow of capital, technologies, products, industries and people between economies, and channel the waters in the ocean back into isolated lakes and creeks is simply not possible. Indeed, it runs counter to the historical trend.

The history of mankind tells us that problems are not to be feared. What should concern us is refusing to face up to problems and not knowing what to do about them. In the face of both opportunities and challenges of economic globalization, the right thing to do is to seize every opportunity, jointly meet challenges and chart the right course for economic globalization.

At the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in late 2016, I spoke about the necessity to make the process of economic globalization more invigorated, more inclusive and more sustainable. We should act pro-actively and manage economic globalization as appropriate so as to release its positive impact and rebalance the process of economic globalization. We should follow the general trend, proceed from our respective national conditions and embark on the right pathway of integrating into economic globalization with the right pace. We should strike a balance between efficiency and equity to ensure that different countries, different social strata and different groups of people all share in the benefits of economic globalization. The people of all countries expect nothing less from us, and this is our unshirkable responsibility as leaders of our times.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

At present, the most pressing task before us is to steer the global economy out of difficulty. The global economy has remained sluggish for quite some time. The gap between the poor and the rich and between the South and the North is widening. The root cause is that the three critical issues in the economic sphere have not been effectively addressed.

First, lack of robust driving forces for global growth makes it difficult to sustain the steady growth of the global economy. The growth of the global economy is now at its slowest pace in seven years. Growth of global trade has been slower than global GDP growth. Short-term policy stimuli are ineffective. Fundamental structural reform is just unfolding. The global economy is now in a period of moving toward new growth drivers, and the role of traditional engines to drive growth has weakened. Despite the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and 3-D printing, new sources of growth are yet to emerge. A new path for the global economy remains elusive.

Second, inadequate global economic governance makes it difficult to adapt to new developments in the global economy. Madame Christine Lagarde recently told me that emerging markets and developing countries already contribute to 80 percent of the growth of the global economy. The global economic landscape has changed profoundly in the past few decades. However, the global governance system has not embraced those new changes and is therefore inadequate in terms of representation and inclusiveness. The global industrial landscape is changing and new industrial chains, value chains and supply chains are taking shape. However, trade and investment rules have not kept pace with these developments, resulting in acute problems such as closed mechanisms and fragmentation of rules. The global financial market needs to be more resilient against risks, but the global financial governance mechanism fails to meet the new requirement and is thus unable to effectively resolve problems such as frequent international financial market volatility and the build-up of asset bubbles.

Third, uneven global development makes it difficult to meet people’s expectations for better lives. Dr. Schwab has observed in his book The Fourth Industrial Revolution that this round of industrial revolution will produce extensive and far-reaching impacts such as growing inequality, particularly the possible widening gap between return on capital and return on labor. The richest one percent of the world’s population own more wealth than the remaining 99 percent. Inequality in income distribution and uneven development space are worrying. Over 700 million people in the world are still living in extreme poverty. For many families, to have warm houses, enough food and secure jobs is still a distant dream. This is the biggest challenge facing the world today. It is also what is behind the social turmoil in some countries.

All this shows that there are indeed problems with world economic growth, governance and development models, and they must be resolved. The founder of the Red Cross Henry Dunant once said, “Our real enemy is not the neighboring country; it is hunger, poverty, ignorance, superstition and prejudice.” We need to have the vision to dissect these problems; more importantly, we need to have the courage to take actions to address them.

First, we should develop a dynamic, innovation-driven growth model. The fundamental issue plaguing the global economy is the lack of driving force for growth. Innovation is the primary force guiding development. Unlike the previous industrial revolutions, the fourth industrial revolution is unfolding at an exponential rather than linear pace. We need to relentlessly pursue innovation. Only with the courage to innovate and reform can we remove bottlenecks blocking global growth and development.

With this in mind, G-20 leaders reached an important consensus at the Hangzhou Summit, which is to take innovation as a key driver and foster new driving force of growth for both individual countries and the global economy. We should develop a new development philosophy and rise above the debate about whether there should be more fiscal stimulus or more monetary easing. We should adopt a multipronged approach to address both the symptoms and the underlying problems. We should adopt new policy instruments and advance structural reform to create more space for growth and sustain its momentum. We should develop new growth models and seize opportunities presented by the new round of industrial revolution and digital economy. We should meet the challenges of climate change and aging population. We should address the negative impact of IT application and automation on jobs. When cultivating new industries and new forms models of business models, we should create new jobs and restore confidence and hope to our peoples.

Second, we should pursue a well-coordinated and inter-connected approach to develop a model of open and win-win cooperation. Today, mankind has become a close-knit community of shared future. Countries have extensive converging interests and are mutually dependent. All countries enjoy the right to development. At the same time, they should view their own interests in a broader context and refrain from pursuing them at the expense of others.

We should commit ourselves to growing an open global economy to share opportunities and interests through opening-up and achieve win-win outcomes. One should not just retreat to the harbor when encountering a storm, for this will never get us to the other shore of the ocean. We must redouble efforts to develop global connectivity to enable all countries to achieve inter-connected growth and share prosperity. We must remain committed to developing global free trade and investment, promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation through opening-up and say no to protectionism. Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room. While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air. No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war.

Third, we should develop a model of fair and equitable governance in keeping with the trend of the times. As the Chinese saying goes, people with petty shrewdness attend to trivial matters, while people with vision attend to governance of institutions. There is a growing call from the international community for reforming the global economic governance system, which is a pressing task for us. Only when it adapts to new dynamics in the international economic architecture can the global governance system sustain global growth.

Countries, big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are all equal members of the international community. As such, they are entitled to participate in decision-making, enjoy rights and fulfill obligations on an equal basis. Emerging markets and developing countries deserve greater representation and voice. The 2010 IMF quota reform has entered into force, and its momentum should be sustained. We should adhere to multilateralism to uphold the authority and efficacy of multilateral institutions. We should honor promises and abide by rules. One should not select or bend rules as he sees fit. The Paris Agreement is a hard-won achievement which is in keeping with the underlying trend of global development. All signatories should stick to it instead of walking away from it as this is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.

Fourth, we should develop a balanced, equitable and inclusive development model. As the Chinese saying goes, “A just cause should be pursued for common good.” Development is ultimately for the people. To achieve more balanced development and ensure that the people have equal access to opportunities and share in the benefits of development, it is crucial to have a sound development philosophy and model and make development equitable, effective and balanced.

We should foster a culture that values diligence, frugality and enterprise and respects the fruits of hard work of all. Priority should be given to addressing poverty, unemployment, the widening income gap and the concerns of the disadvantaged to promote social equity and justice. It is important to protect the environment while pursuing economic and social progress so as to achieve harmony between man and nature and between man and society. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be implemented to realize balanced development across the world.

A Chinese adage reads, “Victory is ensured when people pool their strength; success is secured when people put their heads together.” As long as we keep to the goal of building a community of shared future for mankind and work hand in hand to fulfill our responsibilities and overcome difficulties, we will be able to create a better world and deliver better lives for our peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

China has become the world’s second largest economy thanks to 38 years of reform and opening-up. A right path leads to a bright future. China has come this far because the Chinese people have, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, blazed a development path that suits China’s actual conditions.

This is a path based on China’s realities. China has in the past years succeeded in embarking on a development path that suits itself by drawing on both the wisdom of its civilization and the practices of other countries in both East and West. In exploring this path, China refuses to stay insensitive to the changing times or to blindly follow in others’ footsteps. All roads lead to Rome. No country should view its own development path as the only viable one, still less should it impose its own development path on others.

This is a path that puts people’s interests first. China follows a people-oriented development philosophy and is committed to bettering the lives of its people. Development is of the people, by the people and for the people. China pursues the goal of common prosperity. We have taken major steps to alleviate poverty and lifted over 700 million people out of poverty, and good progress is being made in our efforts to finish building a society of initial prosperity in all respects.

This is a path of pursuing reform and innovation. China has tackled difficulties and met challenges on its way forward through reform. China has demonstrated its courage to take on difficult issues, navigate treacherous rapids and remove institutional hurdles standing in the way of development. These efforts have enabled us to unleash productivity and social vitality. Building on progress of 30-odd years of reform, we have introduced more than 1,200 reform measures over the past four years, injecting powerful impetus into China’s development.

This is a path of pursuing common development through opening-up. China is committed to a fundamental policy of opening-up and pursues a win-win opening-up strategy. China’s development is both domestic and external oriented; while developing itself, China also shares more of its development outcomes with other countries and peoples.

China’s outstanding development achievements and the vastly improved living standards of the Chinese people are a blessing to both China and the world. Such achievements in development over the past decades owe themselves to the hard work and perseverance of the Chinese people, a quality that has defined the Chinese nation for several thousand years. We Chinese know only too well that there is no such thing as a free lunch in the world. For a big country with over 1.3 billion people, development can be achieved only with the dedication and tireless efforts of its own people. We cannot expect others to deliver development to China, and no one is in a position to do so. When assessing China’s development, one should not only see what benefits the Chinese people have gained, but also how much hard effort they have put in, not just what achievements China has made, but also what contribution China has made to the world. Then one will reach a balanced conclusion about China’s development.

Between 1950 and 2016, despite its modest level of development and living standard, China provided more than 400 billion yuan of foreign assistance, undertook over 5,000 foreign assistance projects, including nearly 3,000 complete projects, and held over 11,000 training workshops in China for over 260,000 personnel from other developing countries. Since it launched reform and opening-up, China has attracted over $1.7 trillion of foreign investment and made over $1.2 trillion of direct outbound investment, making huge contribution to global economic development. In the years following the outbreak of the international financial crisis, China contributed to over 30 percent of global growth every year on average. All these figures are among the highest in the world.

The figures speak for themselves. China’s development is an opportunity for the world; China has not only benefited from economic globalization but also contributed to it. Rapid growth in China has been a sustained, powerful engine for global economic stability and expansion. The inter-connected development of China and a large number of other countries has made the world economy more balanced. China’s remarkable achievement in poverty reduction has contributed to more inclusive global growth. And China’s continuous progress in reform and opening-up has lent much momentum to an open world economy.

We Chinese know only too well what it takes to achieve prosperity, so we applaud the achievements made by others and wish them a better future. We are not jealous of others’ success; and we will not complain about others who have benefited so much from the great opportunities presented by China’s development. We will open our arms to the people of other countries and welcome them aboard the express train of China’s development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

I know you are all closely following China’s economic development, and let me give you an update on the state of China’s economy. China’s economy has entered what we call a new normal, in which major changes are taking place in terms of growth rate, development model, economic structure and drivers of growth. But the economic fundamentals sustaining sound development remain unchanged.

Despite a sluggish global economy, China’s economy is expected to grow by 6.7 percent in 2016, still one of the highest in the world. China’s economy is far bigger in size than in the past, and it now generates more output than it did with double-digit growth in the past. Household consumption and the services sector have become the main drivers of growth. In the first three quarters of 2016, added value of the tertiary industry took up 52.8 percent of the GDP and domestic consumption contributed to 71 percent of economic growth. Household income and employment have steadily risen, while per unit GDP energy consumption continues to drop. Our efforts to pursue green development are paying off.

The Chinese economy faces downward pressure and many difficulties, including acute mismatch between excess capacity and an upgrading demand structure, lack of internal driving force for growth, accumulation of financial risks, and growing challenges in certain regions. We see these as temporary hardships that occur on the way forward. And the measures we have taken to address these problems are producing good results. We are firm in our resolve to forge ahead. China is the world’s largest developing country with over 1.3 billion people, and their living standards are not yet high. But this reality also means China has enormous potential and space for development. Guided by the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, we will adapt to the new normal, stay ahead of the curve, and make coordinated efforts to maintain steady growth, accelerate reform, adjust economic structure, improve people’s living standards and fend off risks. With these efforts, we aim to achieve medium-high rate of growth and upgrade the economy to higher end of the value chain.

— China will strive to enhance the performance of economic growth. We will pursue supply-side structural reform as the general goal, shift the growth model and upgrade the economic structure. We will continue to cut overcapacity, reduce inventory, deleverage financing, reduce cost and strengthen weak links. We will foster new drivers of growth, develop an advanced manufacturing sector and upgrade the real economy. We will implement the Internet Plus action plan to boost effective demand and better meet the individualized and diverse needs of consumers. And we will do more to protect the ecosystem.

— China will boost market vitality to add new impetus to growth. We will intensify reform efforts in priority areas and key links and enable the market to play a decisive role in resources allocation. Innovation will continue to feature prominently on our growth agenda. In pursuing the strategy of innovation-driven development, we will bolster the strategic emerging industries, apply new technologies and foster new business models to upgrade traditional industries; and we will boost new drivers of growth and revitalize traditional ones.

— China will foster an enabling and orderly environment for investment. We will expand market access for foreign investors, build high-standard pilot free trade zones, strengthen protection of property rights, and level the playing field to make China’s market more transparent and better regulated. In the coming five years, China is expected to import $8 trillion of goods, attract $600 billion of foreign investment and make $750 billion of outbound investment. Chinese tourists will make 700 million overseas visits. All this will create a bigger market, more capital, more products and more business opportunities for other countries. China’s development will continue to offer opportunities to business communities in other countries. China will keep its door wide open and not close it. An open door allows both other countries to access the Chinese market and China itself to integrate with the world. And we hope that other countries will also keep their door open to Chinese investors and keep the playing field level for us.

— China will vigorously foster an external environment of opening-up for common development. We will advance the building of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific and negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to form a global network of free trade arrangements. China stands for concluding open, transparent and win-win regional free trade arrangements and opposes forming exclusive groups that are fragmented in nature. China has no intention to boost its trade competitiveness by devaluing the RMB, still less will it launch a currency war.

Over three years ago, I put forward the “Belt and Road” initiative. Since then, over 100 countries and international organizations have given warm responses and support to the initiative. More than 40 countries and international organizations have signed cooperation agreements with China, and our circle of friends along the “Belt and Road” is growing bigger. Chinese companies have made over $50 billion of investment and launched a number of major projects in the countries along the routes, spurring the economic development of these countries and creating many local jobs. The “Belt and Road” initiative originated in China, but it has delivered benefits well beyond its borders.

In May this year, China will host in Beijing the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which aims to discuss ways to boost cooperation, build cooperation platforms and share cooperation outcomes. The forum will also explore ways to address problems facing global and regional economy, create fresh energy for pursuing inter-connected development and make the “Belt and Road” initiative deliver greater benefits to people of countries involved.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

World history shows that the road of human civilization has never been a smooth one, and that mankind has made progress by surmounting difficulties. No difficulty, however daunting, will stop mankind from advancing. When encountering difficulties, we should not complain about ourselves, blame others, lose confidence or run away from responsibilities. We should join hands and rise to the challenge. History is created by the brave. Let us boost confidence, take actions and march arm-in-arm toward a bright future.

Thank you!

CHINA-PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR MAPS & STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE

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