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—The premier laid the foundation stone of two key sections of the motorway, at the inauguration of the western route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). —DawnNews
—The premier laid the foundation stone of two key sections of the motorway, at the inauguration of the western route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). —DawnNews

QUETTA: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the western route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Balochistan's Zhob on Wednesday and laid the foundation stones of two key projects: upgradation of the Zhob-Mughal Kot section of the Dera Ismail Khan-Qila Saifullah Highway (N-50) and the Qilla Saifullah-Waigam Rud Road section of the Multan-Dera Ghazi Khan-Qilla Saifullah Highway (N-70), reported Radio Pakistan.

The Zhob-Mughal Kot Section is part of the western route of the CPEC which starts from Burhan on the Peshawar-Islamabad motorway (M-1), and after moving through DI Khan, Zhob, Quetta, Surab and Hoshab, ends at Gwadar.

The Zhob-Mughal Kot section is 81 kilometres (km) long and its upgradation will cost Rs9 billion, and is expected to be completed by 2018. The Qilla Saifullah-Waigam Rud section is 128km long and will cost around Rs 8bn.

The prime minister was also briefed on the projects. Chairman National Highway Authority Shahid Ashraf Tarar while addressing the inauguration ceremony said motorways and expressways in Pakistan in the next three years will span lengths thrice as long as they currently are.

From Khunjerab to Gwadar, all areas will be connected by means of motorways, he said, adding that the routes would make it easier for traders to access markets.

Balochistan's development top priority: PM

Addressing attendees at the inaugural ceremony, the premier urged all political forces to create a united front in order to eradicate the curse of terrorism from the country.

"I cannot do it alone," PM Nawaz emphasised.

The premier said the project would open new vistas of development and prosperity in the region. "The country will progress after this project," he stated. "Pakistan's progress will start from Balochistan."

Nawaz emphasied that Balochistan's development was his government's top priority, and that the province played a crucial role in the development of the country.

He also briefly referred to the progress made with India in the matter of bilateral negotiations. PM Nawaz thanked the Indian prime minister for visiting Pakistan. "It has been agreed that we will re-start the dialogue between Pakistan and India," he said.

No negative propaganda against CPEC: Zehri

Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri discouraged "negative propaganda against the CPEC" at the inauguration of the western route of the CPEC. —DawnNews Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri discouraged "negative propaganda against the CPEC" at the inauguration of the western route of the CPEC. —DawnNews

Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri felt the project was the "positive stride" towards the country's economic development. Alluding to recent controversies over the CPEC project, he further said, "There has to be no negative propaganda against CPEC."

Senator Hasil Bizenjo, meanwhile, said that had the development projects been completed in a timely manner in the past, there would have been long-sustained peace in the troubled province. "Poverty and unemployment are the underlying causes of terrorism," he said.

JUI chief Maulana Fazal ur Rehman similarly felt that the CPEC project was a matter of "immense pleasure", since it addressed basic issues in the province and would help pave the way for durable piece in the region. The Maulana also said that peace in Afghanistan was crucial for Pakistan. "The war-torn country provides access to resource-rich central asian states," he added.

Mehmood Achakzai also stressed upon the necessity of smooth and transparent working relations with neighboring countries to make the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) pipeline project a success. He demanded that PM Nawaz take all political forces in confidence regarding the giant CPEC project.

"We want to develop at all costs," Mian Iftikhar of ANP said. However, while he felt the western route was an important step in the process of eliminating terrorism from the country, the port of Gwadar, he felt, belonged to Balochistan first.

"Gwadar first belongs to the Balochs, and then to Pakistan," Iftikhar stated.

The ceremony was attended by key party representatives and government officials, including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazal ur Rehman, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, secretary general of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) Mushahid Hussain Syed, ANP Central General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain Shah, National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen (retd) Janjua, Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Federal Minister for Textile and Industries Abbas Khan Afridi, and Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo.

Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri earlier said that the CPEC would help provide jobs to millions of youths in Balochistan besides boosting the local economy.

CPEC: Background

Map courtesy: Planning Commission Map courtesy: Planning Commission

The CPEC is a 3,000-kilometer network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport oil and gas from Gwadar Port to Kashgar city, northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, China Daily reports.

Proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in May 2013, the CPEC will act as a bridge for the new Maritime Silk Route that envisages linking three billion people in Asia, Africa and Europe.

An official agreement on the corridor was signed between the two countries in May this year during President Xi Jinping's historic visit to Pakistan.

A flagship project of the Belt and Road initiative as well, the CPEC intends to revive the ancient Silk Road with a focus on infrastructure, and constitutes the strategic framework of bilateral cooperation.

The project links China's strategy to develop its western region with Pakistan's focus on boosting its economy, including the infrastructure construction of Gwadar Port, together with some energy cooperation and investment programs.

It also involves road and railway construction including an upgrade of the 1,300-km Karakoram Highway, the highest paved international road in the world which connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountains.

The CPEC will reduce China's routes of oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East by thousands of kilometers, making Gwadar a potentially vital link in China's supply chain.

Controversy over CPEC routes

The project has generated controversy with political leaders particularly of smaller provinces alleging the project has been altered to benefit Punjab, who criticise the western route being inagurated first.

The route, which includes the Gawadar-Kashgar road, has been designed for heavy transportation so it benefits local as well as international trade that will flow through it.

The eastern route, meanwhile comprises motorways from Gwadar to Sukkur to Multan and then to Lahore and further.

Critics say that different specifications of the two routes will automatically dictate the transporters' first choice, resulting in the use of eastern route as the only use.

The route apparently under its original plan ran from Gwadar to Quetta, then up to Zhob before veering east towards Dera Ismail Khan.

The government changed this route to go straight east from Gwadar towards Khuzdar, then slightly northeast to cross the River Indus near Ratodero and connect with the road network in Sindh, a decision that was heavly criticised.

The government strenuously denied that any route changes were made, arguing that both the eastern and western routes are being pursued, and on the request of the Chinese, the second route is being built first simply because it is cheaper to do so.

Most Popular

Comments (60) Closed

Sanna Ejaz Dec 30, 2015 12:53pm

Hope it's truly western route of CPEC; otherwise these areas would be neglected for more decades.

Hope Dec 30, 2015 01:01pm


Will bring construction, transportation and trade jobs in Balochistan for youth and bring prosperity in the region.

ailly Dec 30, 2015 01:05pm

PM leaves no chance to appear on media. well done PM keep doing it and sooner all of us will find ourselves sleeping on orange, red, yellow, brown, green, blue lanes...

a BIG DEAL being cut with CPEC operators.

ali ahmad Dec 30, 2015 01:12pm


Be Realistic Dec 30, 2015 01:23pm

comparitively the most successful govt in Pakistan's history!!! Pakistan Zindabad

Be Realistic Dec 30, 2015 01:25pm

@ailly just tell me how could you manage to be so pessimistic all the time!!! try to give credit where its due

Fast Dec 30, 2015 01:28pm

Well done Mr. PM this is necessary to develop less developed areas like Balochistan. keep it up.

Fast Dec 30, 2015 01:43pm

@ailly If you are jealous and unhappy then please keep it to yourself only and let other to be happy and enjoy. All previous govts fail to address the problems of less developed areas now we can see some big change in this regard that day is not very far when Balochistan will be trade hub of the region.Inshallah!!!

Muhammad Arshad Dec 30, 2015 02:16pm

Great News

Riaz Dec 30, 2015 02:21pm

This priminister has nothing to do except inaugeration,

sky Dec 30, 2015 02:25pm

its just showoff nothing will be done....... only one route will be completed ... u know which one....

Proud Lahori Dec 30, 2015 02:25pm

Good job, this will ensure some kind of prosperity among the youth of Balochistan

Iqbal Khan Dec 30, 2015 02:37pm

Western rout is the originally COEC proposed, a short, rout which needed to be a motorway, not to be upgraded as a highway.

Umar Farooq Dec 30, 2015 02:38pm

Well done PM, go on we are with you......

Muhammed Dec 30, 2015 02:57pm

Roads always connect people, bring jobs, prosperity. And these Bigger Roads will connect the Economic/Industrial SuperPower of the World to the rest of the world - thru shortest paths.

it is our duty to get the maximum from these and make use of the.

Congratulations to govt for making it happen. I hope there is least corruption in these projects ?

Rizwan Dec 30, 2015 02:59pm

Completion of all these projects in rightfull manner will highly benefit in the development of region and to some extent will help reducing the insurgeny in Baluchistan.

MKB Dec 30, 2015 03:09pm

@sky At least this government is doing something. there has not been any development in the country at this level since 1999.

Faisal Dec 30, 2015 03:09pm

Dear Haters, Something is better then nothing.

abdullah Dec 30, 2015 03:27pm

Gawadar belongs to pakistan and so does balochistan kpk punjab sindh kashmir and Gb.These foolish politicians need to grow up.

Naimat Dec 30, 2015 03:36pm

My opinion is that if the do this act it will bring prosperity in our entire country.

haris Dec 30, 2015 03:41pm

"Gwadar first belongs to the Balochs, and then to Pakistan," Iftikhar stated.

Whats that mean? Do Custom House, Karachi Port Authority, Karachi Ports, Kannup etc belongs first to Karachi and then to Pakistan? similarly, Tarbela and Mangla Dams first belongs to KPK?

Furthermore, the investment on Gwadar port was made exchequers money all over Pakistan. Unlike, Gas reserves of Sui, Coal, diamond and gold reserves of Riko Diq Gwadar should be always belong to Pakistan only.

These types of politicians miss no chance of dividing the country and the people.

Haroon Dec 30, 2015 03:49pm

@Sanna Ejaz Truly Western route is a biased approach against Azad Kashmir, Sindh and Punjab. Remember Sindh + Punjab are the powerhouses of Pakistan. They contribute to 90 percent of GDP. So you want to neglect them?. The Eastern route include Karachi-Lahore Motorway. Also it includes the connection of Islamabad to Muzzafarabad and beyond. So anyone who is opposing Eastern route is doing it out of Sheer Regional and Ethnic bias and nothing else. So you want that Karachi-Lahore motorway should never be built?. Both Western and Eastern routes must be completed at the same time. If KP has the right to deep sea then so does Azad Kashmir and Punjab. If KP and Balochistan has the right to be connected to the Economic Corridor of China then so does other provinces.

Akram Dec 30, 2015 04:00pm

politicians should form a committee to oversea the decision making at ministerial level. With a single member from each party in order to keep disputes to a minimum. Much of the disagreement seem to be from misunderstanding of the issues at hand.

For example the recent ANP tantrum that the western route is not being built first only to find out the chinese specified this because the eastern route has better existing roads. This is just one example of being able to remove poor understanding of the issues. PML-N must up its game and include a more mutually conducive atmosphere which will lead to better ownership of the problems when they arise.

haris Dec 30, 2015 04:11pm

@Akram: for such debate and discussions there exists a forum called Parliament.

Sanna Ejaz Dec 30, 2015 04:25pm

@Haroon Pakhtunkhwa the Pakhtun populated land is having the larger area; minerals, water power, if we count it that easy then would ask why the 18th Amnd and NFC are paused? Why shouldn't the center let the provinces have their control on their own resources? I am sure the most developed Punjab would come to a stand still if the power and water from Pakhtunkhwa are cut down.

As anyone know that Punjab is developed as well as the urban Sindh if compared with the KP, FATA, Balochistan so this project going through western route was decided by Sindh centric PPP coalition government. If they had reservation they wouldn't have let it go through western route. A federal Pakistan should focus the least developed areas; otherwise the uprising in Balochistan, militancy in KP and FATA would make hurdles in the way of peaceful federation of Pakistan. A suggestion again the route should go through western areas as decided by earlier parliament and government.

Sanna Ejaz Dec 30, 2015 04:37pm

@Akram dear Chinese are only investing here for their interest to find shortest possible way for the oil business with Middle East and in reverse spread their economic links to EU countries and the West; at the same time squeeze up the Central Asian Nations' resources in the future. So decisions in our country are not taken by Chinese or any one else. We are the rulers in Pakistan; we decide and our decisions should come favoring all equally. Why should KP, Balochista, FATA, Interior Sindh and the Interior Punjab (Siraiki) belt not have a share of the federal cake? If this project is for the country; so these areas I have mentioned have right to have their share first. As Punjab and Central Sindh are far more developed than those far flung areas. This is the reason these people agitate over the PPP decided corridor to go through western route. I don't think any single party or two are agitating over the eastern route focus; as people from the area as a whole are up for agitation.

M.Saeed Dec 30, 2015 04:39pm

The CPEC is an entirely Chinese initiative on its own cost and designs and carries huge circumstantial and associated benefits for Pakistan. We must be thankful to China and should make every possible effort in ensuring on our part to proceed on schedule to a big success. Remember India is in competition with it through Chabahar Port in Iran and would create every possible hurdle to beat it.

Haroon Dec 30, 2015 04:39pm

@Sanna Ejaz Just like i suggested in my comment that your comment is Ethnically and Regionally motivated, your second comment just affirmed that. Also a small reminder for you that Indus, Chenab and Jhelum river originate from Kashmir not from any part of KP. Also Gilgit Baltistan is not a part of KP. So Punjab do not use any Water originating from KP. Secondly again as a small reminder that more than 90 percent of the total GDP of Pakistan is originated from Punjab and Sindh. Talk with logic and figures rather than with emotionalism. The total contribution of Balochistan and KP in our GDP is less than 10 percent. Also Dams are a federal property and KP provincial government has no right to lay claim on any Federal property. Moreover Haripur division which harbors both dams are Hazara and Punjabi dominated regions and for your information Pushtoons are a minority in Hazara division.

haris Dec 30, 2015 04:41pm

@Sanna Ejaz : When and where PPP and Sindh centric Govt. decided to built western route?

Khalid Dec 30, 2015 05:28pm

Any progress is a a "positive" and benefit to Pakistan

Sarai Alamgir Dec 30, 2015 05:35pm

Great work, What matters is Pakistan, and looking at the map of the route, all provinces including Kashmir get development. Now regardless of which party or area we support, lets get behind this great project.

Pratap Dec 30, 2015 05:42pm

@M.Saeed Pm inagurates, but the completion requires good relationship with neighbours. Unless or until Indias concern are sorted out, you are going nowhere.

Sarai Alamgir Dec 30, 2015 06:04pm

@Pratap Sorry i have to disagree, the way i see it is, either India gets on board and becomes a part of this in the future (road link between Pak and India via Lahore or Sindh), India can throw its toys out the pram as much as it wants, it will not have any impact on Pak. India can develop the port city in Iran as much as it wants, but the fact is, this is the most economic way to move items in/out of China. I have heard that Afghanistan will opt for Iran as their prefered port, not sure what planet they living on. 80% of their trade with Pakistan is via Peshawar, which lies in the North East, and do you think they will have money to send to Iran and then use their port and flourish?

Malik Achakzai Dec 30, 2015 06:04pm

Pakistan can remain away from insecurity if it is developed from the inside and has equal right for its citizens. The CPEC is a project by Chinese government but aimed to develop the least developed or none developed areas to the loop of development. Lets hope for the best that PM Mian Nawaz Sharif Sb take bolder steps and accept nations right on their resources; work with federal units on the basis of equity. As well led the country into a peaceful corner with Afghanistan, India and rest of the regional countries. Because such projects need security and security is the dire need of Pakistan.

Alam Dec 30, 2015 06:30pm

@Pratap ...we can understand your frustration with this project. Your concerns will be sorted out automatically when Kashmir matter is resolved by India and Pakistan. Meantime you can go ahead with your Chabahar project. But that project will be feasible only when Pakistan's concerns are sorted out.

Desae Dec 30, 2015 06:33pm

@Malik Achakzai : Very sensible comment.

msadiq Dec 30, 2015 06:34pm

This is what dharna politics did not want ! One more term of pmln and Pakistan will be roaring ! Whiners will always whinge though, even on the progress of their own country !

Ajaya K Dutt Dec 30, 2015 06:40pm

Congratulations and Good Job.

Zmarak Khan Dec 30, 2015 06:46pm

Excellent !!!!!!!!!!!!

Desae Dec 30, 2015 06:52pm

@Haroon : CPEC is the main artery and would meet the requirements of China. We should not make any changes in it that would increase the cost of transportation to China. But, we can always connect with it through our lateral connections at all appropriate places. That is the essence of calling it the CPEC.

Tariq, Lahore Dec 30, 2015 07:00pm

The western route will provide badly need regeneration opportunity for Baluchistan from the north to the Gawadar.

T. M Dec 30, 2015 07:15pm

Great job Mr. Sharif....please do not come under any political pressure or arm twisting to deviate from your mission. Build your country to be a modern, developed, liberal and accommodating country of the region. This will only come about with perseverance and steadfast governance.

Danish Mehmood Dec 30, 2015 07:35pm

CPEC is a life-line for Pakistan's Future. current government is rightly focussing on this project.

WITH LOVE FROM CANADA Dec 30, 2015 07:42pm

Good Luck PM

Haroon Dec 30, 2015 07:52pm

@Desae You have to fulfill the requirements of China first or Pakistan?. So you are giving an argument that the interests of Chinese comes first and our interests second. CPEC main aim to connect internal Pakistan with the Deep sea. Chine will be one beneficiary as well. But our first aim should be connect all industrialized regions of Pakistan with CPEC. So kindly stop being an advocate of China. May be your argument is that as long as Punjab and Azad Kashmir are not a Part of CPEC then everything is fine?.

Nadeem Dec 30, 2015 07:54pm

Very well done, keep it up.

Salma Shahid Dec 30, 2015 08:30pm

@Sanna Ejaz , If you look at the map above the only difference in the distance via western and the eastern routes is about 100 km out of a total of about 2300 km. Now just imagine yourself, if you had to drive a truck would your choice be drive on motorway and through peaceful and densely populated areas or save a mere 100 km and drive through a route which has its security risks, goes through mountains and is less populated, lesser developed and has lesser hotel, dining etc possibilities? The only way to make it attractive is to cut the distance even more by building a road starting a few km after Qalat through Sibi to Qila Saifullah. This road could have avoided Quetta but could also had shortened the total distance by another 120 km. Even from D.I.Khan you need to build a straighter route to Burhan to cut it by another 100 km. MLN designed it all making the western route to be the most attractive choice.

Dilectus Dec 30, 2015 08:36pm

Almost three years have been passed in these inaugurations, two left and PML-N still has nothing to show for its performance. Tell me when something is actually built.

Syed Ahmed, Canada Dec 30, 2015 08:39pm

Well done PM. Lets see the CPEC's completion in the stipulated time.

Fareed Dec 30, 2015 08:58pm

Dear all don't be confused. Its just an up-gradation, rather than a western route . I just have been there.

Agha Raza Dec 30, 2015 09:09pm

we should call PM inaugurater, he inaugurate juglot skardu road twice but no work happen on the road. is he waiting uprising from baltistan people. is uprising is essential for development

flipflop Dec 31, 2015 01:14am

What about our local ministers and mayors ? They are the ones who are supposed to inaugurate projects in cities, and provinces. This shows the misbalance of powers and further shows that our PM has too much time on their hands for such meager things. We need decentralisation in our governments chain of command. Give more power to the province as it will allow better allocation of funds and resources. Our government is not a democratic one if this power remains in the hands of one human.

Salih Dec 31, 2015 01:43am

lets hope it will complete along side the Eastern rout. When PMLN came to power the smaller provinces are ignore.

Reality Bites Dec 31, 2015 02:26am

Dawn, it would be helpful if a map of this particular road was published in this article.

wasim Dec 31, 2015 02:55am

and hussle bussle

AdHawk Dec 31, 2015 03:43am

So Quetta remains the only major city not on a motorway?

Dr athar abbas Dec 31, 2015 05:21am

For some reason, everyone is ignoring one fact. These roads are being built in Pakistan and everyone in Pakistan will use it, not just the Chinese. Whatever we call these roads, they are there to benefit everyone. Check the fact that 80% of Pakistan's population lives along the eastern path. Almost all big cities are along this route. As a planner, would you build a motorway where no one lives or build it where all of your population is? The best plan is to somehow not neglect Balochistan, serve your masses too and cater for CPEC requirements, all at the same time. Being a Phd in engineering and a senior infrastructure planner myself in TX, USA, i assure you, what this goverment is doing is unarguably the best plan.

baloch Dec 31, 2015 06:15am

@abdullah gowader is no more for baloch and pak, its for that who is expending a heavey budget on it, not for baloch and pak but for itself, if a politician use political slogan never mind to control your nerve, be emotional just wait and observe.

Dr. Malek Towghi Dec 31, 2015 07:39am

Dear Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Thank you for saying what you said on the occasion. (I read your full speech on this occasion somewhere else.) We love you. I wish Mir. Hasil Khan Bizanjo could open his mouth and say something for the record!

Malek Towghi, Ph.D., Liaison, Baloch Human Rights International -- USA

Usman Dec 31, 2015 10:59pm

Rail is the most efficient mode of land transportation, Pakistan does not have navigable rivers so we must develop rail in conjunction with roads, however we may have all the roads and rail but without an educated, skilled workforce and a clean corruption free government we will continue to lag.