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Imran Khan asked BRI to plant 100 billion trees

27 April, 2019

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Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday asked the participant countries of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to join hands in fighting climate change by planting 100 billion trees, establish tourism corridor and combat corruption.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation here at the China National Convention Center, the prime minister suggested a five-point roadmap to direct efforts and focus on the peoples of the participating countries, and towards addressing impediments on their way to sustainable growth.

Speaking on the theme of ‘Shaping a Brighter Future’, Prime Minister Imran Khan told the gathering comprising around 37 nations the urgency to create a poverty alleviation fund and the importance of efforts to further liberalize trade and investment flows.

The three-day meeting is being attended by leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, UK Chancellor Philip Hammond, and the heads of state of the 10 ASEAN states, besides over 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries. The United States has sent a low-level delegation, while India opted not to attend.

Prime Minister Imran Khan while elaborating his five-points called for joint efforts to mitigate climate change. He recalled how the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has successfully planted a billion trees and said that the president of Chile has also mentioned this initiative. “We launched a nationwide project to plant 10 billion trees. I suggest we launch a joint project to plant 100 billion trees in the next two years, so that we can mitigate the effects of climate change for our coming generations,” he added.

Imran Khan, who has been very vocal about encouraging tourism in the country, suggested establishment of a BRI Tourism Corridor to promote people-to-people contacts and inter-cultural understanding. He also suggested setting up of an office of anti-corruption cooperation to combat the scourge of white-collar crimes.

Speaking about the importance of fighting poverty, Imran Khan spoke for creating a poverty alleviation fund that can supplement national efforts in the fight against poverty and malnourishment.

“In Pakistan, we have recently launched a targeted poverty alleviation programme called Ehsas,” he said, adding that it was aimed at emulating China’s spectacular success in lifting 800 million people out of poverty within a matter of decades.

Prime Minister Imran Khan also called for making concerted efforts to further liberalise trade and investment flows, encouraging the private sector and businesses to collaborate in projects.

He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), one of BRI’s major components and one of its earliest manifestations, has made substantial progress. “Pakistan’s energy supplies have increased massively. Our critical infrastructure gaps are being plugged. Gwadar, once a small fishing village, is transforming rapidly into a commercial hub. Gwadar Airport will be the largest in the country,” he added.

Imran Khan said Pakistan and China are entering the next phase of CPEC, with greater emphasis on socioeconomic uplift, poverty alleviation, agricultural cooperation and industrial development. “We are expanding the frontiers of knowledge through closer engagement and deeper cooperation in the fields of education, innovation and technology,” he said, adding that special economic zones are being set up along the length of the corridor and will offer opportunities for investments for Pakistani, Chinese and foreign entrepreneurs.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said supplementing the next phase of CPEC, the two countries will sign an expanded free trade agreement. “We are changing Pakistan’s economic landscape and the destiny of our people. I want to thank China and its leadership for their unwavering support for Pakistan,” he said. “Our deep-rooted friendship, partnership and brotherhood with China remains strong, resilient and unbreakable, standing tall in the face of every challenge,” he added.

He said Pakistan will continue to work with China and other BRI partners on the basis of mutual respect and equal opportunity for a better future of the people. “Pakistan will partner with all those who share the vision for a peaceful and prosperous world. We will work together to realize a future of hope and happiness,” he added.

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