Islamabad: The revamped Gwadar port, a strategic deep seaport in the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, today became operational in Pakistan's restive Balochistan after a Chinese commercial ship laden with around 250 containers set off for the Middle East and Africa.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the start of operational activities at the coastal town of Gwadar in southwestern Balochistan province, which saw an ISIS suicide bombing claim as many as 52 lives.
With the operationalisation of the revamped Gwadar port, the multibillion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), linking western China to the Arabian Sea, became a reality.
The USD 46 billion CPEC is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), sparking concerns from India.
In his address, Sharif called the development as a "watershed" moment in the history of Pakistan and the entire region. He called it a symbol of Pakistan's commitment to China's One Belt-One Road initiative, of which the CPEC is a key port.
"We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that the CPEC and all the projects under its umbrella are materialised within the given time," he said.
Sharif also commented on the One Belt-One Road initiative by China and said that it integrates with Pakistan's Vision 2025 which seeks to transform the country into a hub of trade and commerce.
He said the CPEC would ultimately integrate South Asia, China and Central Asia, and offer opportunities for people in this region besides giving opportunities to investors from across the world.
Officials said a major trade convoy that started from Kashgar in western China on October 30 yesterday reached Gwadar, where Chinese vessels were ready to take the shipment of Chinese goods to Middle East and African countries.
"This is the first time that a trade convoy successfully passed through the western part of Pakistan from the north to the south. It proves the connectivity of the local roads and the realisation of the concept of one corridor with multiple passages," Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong said at the inauguration ceremony.