Parliament can play key role in ‘shaping positive public opinion’ on CPEC: Sher Ali Arbab

Staff Reporter BOL News

27th Oct, 2021. 09:40 pm

Speakers of “CPEC: Fact vs. Fiction” webinar organised by the Pakistan-China Institute. Photo: Press release

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Parliamentary Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Sher Ali Arbab remarked on Wednesday that Parliament can play a key role in “shaping positive public opinion” on the billion-dollar project.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Inaf (PTI) lawmaker observed while giving his keynote speech “CPEC: Fact vs. Fiction” webinar organised by the Pakistan-China Institute.

The Webinar was attended by over 60 participants online and featured six speeches, including Sher Ali Arbab, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua, LUMS Professor Dr Jawad Sayed, Managing Editor of Global Village Space Najma Minhas, and corporate leader Sameer Chishty. The dialogue was moderated by Executive Director of the Pakistan-China Institute Mustafa Hyder Sayed.

The conference chalked out a comprehensive strategy to debunk the myths being created through disinformation campaigns against CPEC.

Arbab was of the view that the parliamentary committee, which he is heading, has set up three pillars that act as a blueprint of its functioning. The blueprint he shared was that the group was above party lines, proceedings are conducted in-camera for responsible messaging, and the chairman acts as its spokesperson.

He highlighted the role of parliament in shaping positive public opinion on CPEC through public interaction.

While commenting on the pace of CPEC projects, he lauded the work on CPEC phase one which bridged the infrastructure gap and made energy shortage a relic of the past. He termed CPEC Phase-II a catalyst for industrial overhaul and called for the inclusion of Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey into CPEC.

Former foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua recalled a quote of President Xi Jinping during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China in 2019.

“No matter how the international and regional situation changes, the friendship between China and Pakistan will always be unbreakable and rock-solid,” President Xi was quoted by the former diplomat. She called the statement a “common sentiment shared by the people of Pakistan at all levels”.

“Constancy and its amazing capability to transcend the usual considerations of international politics is the striking feature of the Pakistan-China relationship. For the success of CPEC, we need to expand the beneficiaries of this important project,” said Janjua.

Professor Dr Jawad Sayed talked about the role that universities can play in shaping public opinion on CPEC and called for interdisciplinary research on CPEC.

Minhas pointed out that the current narrative on CPEC is coming from the US and India, which aims to inject disinformation against Chinese involvement in Pakistan through CPEC.

“In order to project Pakistan’s narrative on CPEC worldwide, we need to follow a three-pronged strategy,” said the managing editor of the magazine Global Village Space.

The journalist shared that, firstly, there was a need to highlight the achievements of CPEC phase one which has contributed a lot towards rejuvenating Pakistan’s economy.

“Secondly, need to highlight that China is a strategic partner of Pakistan and CPEC is just one aspect of the Pakistan-China relationship,” said Minhas. Lastly, she said, there was a need to consolidate public opinion on CPEC through better inter-departmental coordination.

Sameer Chishty urged that Pakistan need to learn from Shenzhen which is the “most successful special economic zone”.

Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director, Pakistan-China Institute talked of the need to better coordinate activities of civil society organizations with media and academia to formulate people-centric narratives on Pakistan-China relations and CPEC.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed in his concluding remarks pointed out that the Pakistan-China relationship is unique, time-tested, non-transactional, non-tactical and not directed against any country.

He termed people-to-people connectivity as the core of this relationship which was recently manifested in a US Pew survey according to which 83% of Pakistanis view China as a friend.

“CPEC Phase 1 has improved infrastructure and alleviated the energy crisis, and revived dead projects like Gwadar Port and Thar Coal,” said the senator.