Islamabad a two-day international conference on “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Building Narratives” organized by Iqbal International Institute for Research and Dialogue (IRD), of International Islamic University (IIUI) commenced on Wednesday at Quaid-e-Azam Auditorium, Faisal Masjid Campus, and Islamabad.

The conference organized by IRD in collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences, is being attended by eminent national and international experts in economics, sociology and mass media. In different sessions of the conference, around 50 national and international experts, researchers, academicians and intellectuals will discuss various aspects of CPEC’s regional and global impact. The IIU Rector Prof. Dr. Masoom Yasinzai chaired the inaugural session of the conference.

Mr. Rafi Ullah Kakar, Director, Strategic Planning and reforms cell, Government of Baluchistan, in his keynote address discussed misconceptions and myths about the CPEC. In addition, he also explained an overview of the project from the perspective of both countries. He enlightened on potential risks and ground realities with the example of the statistical approach. He opined that there is a dire need to realize that CPEC is not a substitute to local development policies and it is imperative to solve the indigenous issues with an indigenous approach. He also said that there must be extensive homework and evaluation of national interest be done throughout the project for the multifaceted and successful results.

Mr. Saleem Safi, a famous journalist, in his keynote address discussed the strategic importance of the CPEC. He urged that experts must be brought into the decisive forum for devising a policy on CPEC. He called for more efforts to promote CPEC as a national project.

IIU Rector Prof. Dr. Masoom Yasinzai underscored the importance of universities in the solution of the problems and challenges of society. He stressed that debates on the vital topics that have game-changing importance such as CPEC must be openly conducted on constructive platforms and universities must lead this initiative.  Dr. Masoom hinted towards the meaningful presence of the Youth in Pakistani society, and expressed that the Pakistani human resource compliant to the CPEC needs, with mutual agreement between both states, must be produced to be benefited from the opportunity. He also hailed IRD for arranging an important international conference.

Prof. Dr. Ahmed Shuja Syed, Vice President, Research and Enterprise discussed in his lecture the human resource development perspective of the CPEC. He stressed focusing on key target areas and sectors related to CPEC such as supply chain, engineering, trained manpower, logistics and railways. Dr. Shuja said that academia must come forward to address the gap and Pakistani universities across the must focus on the pointed-out aspects in terms of capacity building, training and research as well.

Prof. Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences urged for more research adding that the presence of ample research literature would help in building the counter-narratives. He said malign narratives were being disseminated by the west in pursuit of negative propaganda against CPEC. He pointed out optimized and simplified versions of propaganda against CPEC and called for the establishment of research centers and think tanks to evaluate the hyped propaganda and build a true narrative based on facts.

In his Welcome address, explaining the aims and objectives of the conference, Dr. Husn ul-Amin, Executive Director, IRD said that CPEC is an important project aimed at extending the western part of China to the southern Arabian Sea. Many sub-projects of energy, infrastructure, railways and other industries are being implemented and CPEC has entered into the second phase, he added.

He said there was a need to discuss multifaceted issues of CPEC. He said that it’s academia’s part that it must build a balanced and factual narrative on this important topic.  He also elaborated on the role and activities of IRD in promoting research and dialogue. In other academic sessions of the conference Prof. Dr Li Xiguang, Director, Tsinghua University International Centre of Communication, China, Dr Su Jing, Research Director Tsinghua University Pakistan Centre for Culture and Communication, Dr Mathew McCarthey, School of Global and Area Studies University Of Oxford, UK, Prof Dr Xiangming Chen of the Trinity College and Fudan University, Shanghai, China (Online) Dr Safdar Hussain of the Department of Political Science Islamia University, Bahawalpur, Maj Gen (R) Samraiz Salik, Dr Syed Akmal Hussain Shah of the Department of the History and Pakistan Studies (IIUI), Dr Sumaila Hallem of the Government Colleges System, Islamabad. Dr Noor Fatima, Dr Muhammad Iqbal Anjum, Dr, Sher Ali Khan, Mr Naveed Anjum and other speakers spoke on different aspects and Implications of the CPEC and its related projects in Pakistan and neighboring countries.