ISLAMABAD: Political parties have raised serious concerns over the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and claimed that the federal government is violating the decisions of an All-Party Conference (APC) of May 2015 and preferring eastern route to western route. Political parties have urged the federal government to taker up the matter in the Council of Common Interests (CCI) to settle it.
Talking to Business Recorder, Central Information Secretary of Awami National Party (ANP) Zahid Khan said his party has serious concerns over the steps taken by the federal government to implement the CPEC projects; and accused the federal government of blatantly violating the decisions of the May 2015 APC held in Islamabad.
The federal government is launching many projects relating to energy and industries on the eastern route while ignoring the western route, he claimed. The ANP leader said the government should brief all the stakeholders over the progress on the implementation of CPEC. He said the federal and provincial governments have failed to raise and discuss the issue at the forum of CCI.
Since the provinces can also requisition a CCI meeting for this purpose they cannot absolve themselves of the responsibility, he stated, and cited Article -154 (3) of the constitution which stipulates: “The Council shall have a permanent Secretariat and shall meet at least once in ninety days: Provided that the Prime Minister may convene a meeting on the request of a Province on an urgent matter.”
Senator Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini of Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) said that his party has two main concerns over the CPEC – one is change of demography and second is control over Gwadar port. He said that Balochistan wants a legislation on these two aspects.
He said the people of Balochistan have concerns that they may become a minority if people from other provinces are relocated in their province after the development of industries and other economic activities under the CPEC. “We want a legislation to avoid this situation. We do not want to issue domicile to the people who are not residents of Balochistan,” he said. He said that his party is holding an All-Party Conference (APC) on the issue of CPEC today (Sunday). He said that they have invited all political parties to the conference.
Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the federal government should give priority to the Western route and the decisions of May 2015 APC must be implemented. He said the recently inaugurated so-called “western corridor project is Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded which has nothing to do with CPEC.”
He added: “The Planning Ministry is taking the Prime Minister and the nation for a ride. A total of $34 billion investment in energy projects but there is not a single hydro project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Gilgit-Baltistan. It is clear that ‘P’ in CPEC stands for Punjab not Pakistan. The government has made it controversial.” Senator Usman Khan Kakar of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami urged the provincial government to raise the issue in CCI and added that the Prime Minister needs to brief the Parliament to remove ambiguities and confusion.
Talking to Business Recorder, Kakar claimed that there was no western route of CPEC project and the government is only focused on the eastern route (Lahore to Karachi motorway) of the scheme. The government is doing injustice to the small provinces under the CPEC project. He warned that such inequality could lead to fragmentation of the country for which the incumbent government would be held responsible.
Senator Hafiz Hamdullah senior leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F) told Business Recorder that the party has reservations over CPEC, which they expressed at an APC held on Thursday. It was decided in the conference that JUI-F would lead a team of representatives from other political parties to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif soon.
The JUI leader said that all the political parties of KPK had serious reservations about the project. He urged the federal government to provide details about the timelines and locations of the economic or industrial zones that would be constructed under the CPEC.
“There are no indications about the railway, electricity and fibre optic cable and natural gas pipeline. Such ambiguities have strengthened our doubts about the federal government’s intentions,” he added.
Senator Kamil Ali Agha said that due to confusion created by the central government, Centre-provinces tensions are increasing. However at a time when there are international challenges, Pakistan cannot afford internal disharmony and accused vested interests of restricting the federal government from sharing exact details about the project.