by Jamil Bhatti
ISLAMABAD, April 23 (Xinhua) -- The completion of some of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects has brought great benefits to local people, but "it is just a beginning of CPEC and a big change is taking place around," Shaukat Paracha, a senior Pakistani journalist said.
Paracha told Xinhua during his recent visit to Port Qasim Coal-fired Power Plant, the first unit of which started to generate clean and cheap electricity to the energy-thirsty country last year, marking the second of the major energy projects under CPEC.
The 1,320-megawatt power plant in full operation could provide enough power to about 4 million local families a year.
Ziaul Amin, a reporter from the Associated Press of Pakistan, has reported CPEC for a long time, but had never before visited Gwadar, another major CPEC project.
After the recent Gwadar visit organized by the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan and the country's ministry of planning and development, Amin said local people were very happy over the hospital and training center facilitated under CPEC.
"CPEC is expected to provide 800,000 jobs to Pakistani people in next few years, which would be a great contribution to relieve Pakistan's high unemployment rate," Amin added
From a small, remote and less developed fishing village, Gwadar port now is embracing its new identity of Pakistan's "Shenzhen" with fully functional port terminal, free zone, business center and, more importantly, a visible future of development and prosperity.
According to the China Overseas Ports Holding Co., the operator of Gwadar port, some 30 companies in different businesses such as hotel, bank, logistics and fish processing have already joined the Gwadar free zone with expectations of generating 790.5 million U.S. dollars annually after full operation.
In January, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi inaugurated the first phase of Gwadar Port's Free Zone, expecting that the free zone will improve Pakistan's trade with regional and global partners under CPEC to bring dividends of free trade to Pakistani economy and betterment in people's lives.
Yasir Rehman, an anchor from the official Pakistan Television, explained that "when infrastructure is developed, it brings stimulus to the economy, creates jobs and improves businesses by starting a constructive process."
"Uninterrupted power supply from CPEC energy projects will help Pakistani industries increase production creating an ideal atmosphere for Pakistan's economy. And with the functionalized Gwadar port for its regular commercial cargo, CPEC will leave significant improvements at every common Pakistani."
Rehman also appreciated the Chinese companies working on CPEC for fulfilling their corporate social responsibilities.
"I saw local girls studying in a school established with Chinese support in Gwadar, and if it would not have been established, these girls could not have any possibility to go to any other area for studies due to local taboos," said Rehman, adding that education is the right prescription to eliminate poverty.
Hospitals, schools and vocational training centers were a dream in once a small fishing town of Gwadar, but now the youngsters from Gwadar are being provided with the ideal facilities to study in and have a chance to change their lives.
"A chance of development is coming to Pakistan, and we all together including political, military and intellectual leadership should grab it. We should make collective efforts so that CPEC can become a collective benefit for the whole region," Paracha told Xinhua.