ISLAMABAD: Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal has assured the nation that no province or region will be discriminated against in the execution of the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) project and that the centre will try to remove reservations of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

“The federal government cannot even think of discriminating against any province in economic zones,” he said while inaugurating a Geo Spatial Technology Cell at the Planning Commission on Tuesday.

The cell was jointly set up by the Planning Commission and the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Resea­rch Commission (Suparco) to carry out economic planning and infrastructure of the CPEC on scientific lines using technology.

“The CPEC is not just a project of the PML-N government, rather it is spanned over decades to come and will have great impact on the future of our generations in terms of their well-being,” Mr Iqbal said.

He dismissed as baseless reports about the shifting of industrial zones from the western route to the eastern route and said the CPEC was a national project and would benefit all the provinces as well as three billion people of the region. “The CPEC is not merely a road project; it’s a framework of economic cooperation in various sectors.”

The minister was referring to a statement of KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak that all benefits of the corridor were being transferred to Punjab, while the western route would have nothing like in terms of utility services such as gas, electricity, telecommunication and rail links.

Mr Iqbal said that out of $46 billion, $38bn investment was being made in the energy sector in IPP mode. He said the federal government was ready to address every single reservation over the corridor and take all stakeholders into confidence.

He said the country got the historic opportunity to develop its backward areas economically and socially through the CPEC. “It is now our national duty to seize this opportunity. All of us must show greater sense of responsibility and refrain from making the project controversial.”

Mr Iqbal said controversies over the CPEC would be detrimental for Pakistan whose perception had changed positively in the world after the launch of the project.

He said the Geo Technology Cell would help in planning and monitoring of infrastructure projects under the CPEC.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2016

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