The federal government has assured that as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) the western route of the project will be constructed on urgent basis. This will include the rehabilitation and up-gradation of Indus highways, the construction of a link or node to it from Jhund to Kohat, and D.I.Khan to Zhub, the doubling of the railway track from Rawalpindi to Peshawar and the construction of the missing links of the railways track via ML-1.
During a meeting between Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal and a parliamentary delegation led by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minister Parveza Khattak on Tuesday evening, it was decided that the prime minister will soon inaugurate the western route of CPEC.
It was also decided that the KP government will submit the feasibilities of three to four industrial zones of which the most feasible one will be taken up as part of CPEC. Overall, four such industrial zones – one each from every province – will be taken up for development and investment. It was further decided that representatives of the provinces particularly from KP will be included in the federal government’ taskforces so that the provinces particularly the KP are kept in close contact on all the projects related to CPEC.
The chief minister was accompanied by KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, Senior KP Ministers Sikandar Khan Sherpao, Enayatullah Khan, Shah Ram Khan Tarakai, Mohammad Atif, Senators Numan Wazir, Mohsin Aziz, Opposition Leader in KP Assembly Maulana Lutfur Rahman, Parliamentary Leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in provincial assembly Aurangzeb Nalutra, KP Additional Chief Secretary Mohammad Azam Khan and other top government officials.
The federal minister was assisted by Planning Commission Chairman Muhammad Zubair, secretary planning, heads and chairmen of federal government departments like National Highway Authority (NHA), Railways, Minerals, Communication, Trade and Industries. They expressed satisfaction over the implementation of the All Parties Conferences (APCs)’s decisions on the western route and resolved to work on other projects through mutual coordination.
Linkages of parts of KP with the western route as well as development of industrial economic zones were discussed during the meeting. It was agreed that work on the western route is progressing according to the consensus reached in the APC held on May 28, 2015. Indus up-gradation will be prioritised and Kohat-Jund Road will be included in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2016-17.
The meeting was informed that Peshawar-DI Khan section of Railway is covered under CPEC. The Coordination Committee will brief representatives of provinces about working of the technical group of CPEC.
Federal Minister Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal allayed the concerns of the KP leadership on the western route and said that CPEC is a national project and it is the responsibility of all the provinces and regions to work jointly to make it a success.
“We should be mindful that some forces don’t want to see CPEC to become successful. Therefore we need to work more closely,” he said. Ahsan Iqbal assured the KP committee that the federal government will implement the consensus reached on CPEC by the national political leadership at the two APCs in letter and spirit.
“CPEC is not the project of one government, nor does the PML-N government have a monopoly over it. It is long term project that will continue till 2030. At least four future governments will have to continue to work on this project,” Ahsan Iqbal said. He assured that no province including KP will be discriminated in CPEC in any way.
“We consider KP as a key partner in CPEC like the other federating units, which has rendered immense sacrifices for the sake of sovereignty and solidarity of the country.”
The minister pointed out that some key facts should be kept in mind to understand CPEC and to remove the misgivings about it. He said that China didn’t put $46 billion at the discretion of Pakistan to distribute it among federating units. It is portfolio investment with a major chunk of $35 billion in the energy sector.