The Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives said on Thursday that despite many challenges, the game-changer China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was progressing successfully as many projects under the corridor have been completed in accordance with their set deadlines. The development of the CPEC project continued despite the Covid-19 pandemic that had hit the whole world badly, the minister said while chairing the 10th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) virtual meeting. “The CPEC cooperation successfully stood the test of time during the pandemic and work on all CPEC projects continued mainly due to the resolute commitment of the top leadership of both the countries,” he said. He said that it was a reflection of the priorities assigned by both the countries to CPEC that even at the time of the most challenging circumstances the CPEC projects continued and met the deadlines that were the sources of satisfaction for all of us. The federal minister said that it was a matter of pride that phase-I had been completed successfully which was focused on the development of energy, communication and infrastructure projects while Phase-II was also successfully underway which offers a broader scope of cooperation. “This Phase is focused on accelerated industrial cooperation, trade, agriculture and socio-economic development.” He said that the industrial zones of Rashakai and Allama Iqbal Industrial City in Faisalabad were testimony to the deepening of CPEC. He said that there was also progress on the development and operationalization of Gwadar port and free zone and it was a reflection of the optimism we have had in the future of CPEC, particularly the industrial cooperation. The minister said that the CPEC South Zone of Gwadar was more or less complete while the prime minister had recently inaugurated the North Zone, which is around 37 times larger than the South zone of Gwadar. He said other than Chinese investment, Pakistan would also welcome investments from other countries in the project. He said, learning from Chinese experiences, the government had shifted the focus of development towards the backward areas to bring them at par with developed regions of the country. Asad said that other than the CPEC investments, the government was also investing substantial resources on its own for CPEC projects on the Western route adding many development projects were underway in Balochistan to make Gwadar an effective port. Phase-II had also had a special focus on the development of agriculture and livestock, which he said had tremendous potential, adding that an agreement to this effect was signed last year to pave way for its development, he added. He said that Pakistan currently was in dire need of developing the agriculture sector to help farmers and low-income people earn good income while for the future it had to focus on science and technology. “Agriculture is what we need today and for the future, we need to develop science and technology infrastructure to usher in a new era,” he said. Talking about the security issues, the minister said that since many countries were not happy with CPEC, which has achieved a high profile globally, the security is also being provided to commensurate with its profile. Asad Umar said that since the last JCC the world has changed a lot due to the impact of Covid-19, which has posed a great challenge to the world, perhaps the first such challenge in a century, however, expressed satisfaction that both China and Pakistan deal with it effectively. “It is a matter of satisfaction that both of our countries have been able to deal with the pandemic in an effective manner,” he said. He lauded Chinese government support, terming it unprecedented at a time when all other countries were prioritizing their own citizens compared to the rest of the world in providing vaccines. China provided much-needed support to Pakistan to combat Covid-19. He also congratulated governments and peoples of both Pakistan and China on the completion of 70 years of diplomatic relations and on the completion of 100 years of the Communist Party of China. Earlier, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, Ning Jizhe expressed satisfaction over the development of various projects under CPEC.