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Pakistan and China Jointly Open New International Trade Route through Southwestern Pakistani Port of Gwadar

The trade convoy passed 3,000 kilometers along the Karakoram Highway through western Pakistan after entering at the Khunjerab Pass, the world's highest paved border crossing

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Pakistan China: Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, center left, and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, fourth right, pray after inaugurating a new international trade route during a ceremony at Gwadar port, about 435 miles, 700 km, west of Karachi. Pa, VOA
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Pakistan and China this week activated a new international trade route through the southwestern Pakistani port of Gwadar to showcase a multi-billion-dollar economic cooperation agreement between the two close allies.

Beijing’s $46 billion investment under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will lead to construction of road, rail and communication networks and power projects in Pakistan along the route linking China’s western Xinjiang region to Gwadar.

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Chinese officials say CPEC is “the major and pilot project of the Belt and Road” initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping.

It will ultimately turn the deep water Gwadar port, developed with Chinese financial and technical assistance, into a gateway for imports and exports from Xinjiang to international markets.

The port sits at the convergence of three of the world’s most commercially important regions, the oil-rich Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia. It also lies at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Strait of Hormuz.

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Pakistani and Chinese officials gathered Sunday at the port to welcome the first convoy of trucks from China. Containers were loaded on two Chinese ships before they sailed to overseas destinations from Gwadar.

The trade convoy passed 3,000 kilometers along the Karakoram Highway through western Pakistan after entering at the Khunjerab Pass, the world’s highest paved border crossing.

“It proves the connectivity of the local roads and realization of the concept of one corridor with multiple passages,” noted Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weeding in Gwadar.

“This trade convoy is the best reflection of the spirits of mutual consultation, joint construction, mutual benefits and win-win cooperation. I believe these spirits will serve as the solid basis for the future construction of CPEC,” said the Chinese diplomat.

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Pakistani leaders hope the economic corridor will bring development and prosperity to billions of people in the region.

“Pakistan is located at the intersection of three engines of growth in Asia – South Asia, China and Central Asia. CPEC will help in integrating these regions into an economic zone offering great opportunities for people of the region as well as investors from all over the world,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told Sunday’s ceremony at Gwadar.

A Pakistan Navy soldier stands guard while a loaded Chinese ship prepares to depart, at Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. VOA
A Pakistan Navy soldier stands guard while a loaded Chinese ship prepares to depart, at Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi. Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016. VOA

For China, the proposed CPEC route will offer the shortest possible access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Chinese ships currently travel through the Strait of Malacca and it takes about half a month to transport goods to or from China.

The Pakistani government is under fire at home for allegedly maintaining secrecy around CPEC-related projects and diverting much of the Chinese investment to the populous province of Punjab, a traditional stronghold of Sharif’s ruling party.

The prime minister and his spokespeople have repeatedly denied the allegations.

“CPEC is for entire Pakistan and no province and region will be left out of it. The whole nation is united and determined to make CPEC a model of success and a flagship project of Pakistan and China friendship to take our friendship to greater heights,” said Sharif, while speaking in Gwadar.

Despite security and political concerns, Chinese and Pakistani officials say that CPEC-related projects have entered into full implementation and are making “remarkable progress.”

They say 16 out of 24 “early harvest projects” are under construction and expected to be completed by 2018, creating tens of thousands of new jobs for local people.

Pakistani critics, however, point to a lack of structural reforms, corruption and mismanagement in government institutions for their skepticism about CPEC.

They insist that existing infrastructure needs a major overhaul to be able to absorb pressure that CPEC-related activities will generate in the coming years.

Economist Athar Maqsood Ahmad at Islamabad’s National University of Sciences and Technology, known as NUST, says signs of improvement already exist in Pakistan, even without CPEC.

“The expected (official) growth rate with the help of CPEC is not much higher than what we have achieved on our own in the past,” he noted.

The professor said much of the public debate is based on assumptions. He said it is not possible to examine the cumulative dividends of CPEC to Pakistan because documents at relevant Chinese and Pakistani ministries do not provide the same information. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)