ISLAMABAD: Opposition members continued their protest over the government’s alleged plan to change the route of the proposed Pakistan-China Economic Corridor and staged yet another walkout from the Senate on Tuesday.
Senator Abdul Rauf of the Pakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP), which is a partner in the ruling coalition, also joined the protesting opposition members, terming the government’s move an “injustice with the people of smaller provinces”.
Mr Rauf also alleged that a “crackdown” against Pakhtuns had been launched in Punjab.
As soon as the house completed its routine agenda, Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party (ANP) took the floor on a point of order and drew the attention of the house towards the corridor issue.
The ANP senator sought an explanation from the government over a recent statement issued by Chinese authorities calling for an end to the debate on the controversy and asking all circles in Pakistan to understand and support the construction of the economic corridor.
He also called for handing the Gwadar Port over to the Balochistan government.
Another ANP senator, Ilyas Bilour, accused the rulers of serving only the people of Punjab. He said the people of tribal areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mianwali and Zhob should not be deprived of their fundamental rights by changing the route.
It was only PML-N Senator Rafiq Rajwana who defended the government and asked opposition members not to malign Punjab.
He regretted that Punjab was being blamed for every ill in the country and appealed to the opposition not to politicise the economic corridor project which, according to him, would prove beneficial for backward areas of the country.
The opposition members, mainly from the ANP, who had already disrupted the proceedings of the previous Senate session last month over the same issue, had marked the beginning of the current session with a walkout on Friday as well.
The opposition had boycotted the Senate despite a categorical assurance by Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal on the floor of the house that the government had no plan to change the original route of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor.
The opposition members doubted the minister’s statement when he told the house that China wanted utilisation of the existing infrastructure and motorways for trade purposes, only till the completion of the corridor plan that could take many years.
Published in Dawn March 4th , 2015