Islamabad/Beijing: China and Pakistan have kicked off their multi-billion dollar Economic Corridor project that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) by laying the foundation of a fenced four-lane motorway.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif performed the groundbreaking of a section of the motorway in the country's northwest on Saturday, setting in motion the mammoth project connecting the two countries.
The 60-km-long four-lane fenced Hazara Motorway in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province would cost US $297 million and take two years to complete.
During his visit to China early this month, Mr Sharif signed deals worth US $45.6 billion which included projects connected with the corridor, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
India has expressed its reservations to China over the corridor as it will pass through the PoK. China, meanwhile, defends the project saying it will help in regional development.
During his November 8 visit to China, Mr Sharif has promised full security to Chinese personnel involved in construction of the mammoth project.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has called the corridor a "flagship" project to strengthen China's connectivity with neighbouring countries and an initiative set to aid strategic framework for pragmatic cooperation between the two nations.
The two countries should facilitate the development of Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan, strengthen cooperation in energy and electricity projects and the planned industrial parks along the corridor, Li was quoted as saying by the official news agency.
The corridor was proposed in an agreement reached during Li's visit to Pakistan in May 2013.
Planned to connect Kashgar in China's Xinjiang with Pakistan's Gwadar Port in Balochistan province, the corridor is expected to serve as a terminal for China to pump oil procurement from Persian Gulf.