PESHAWAR: Keeping in view reservations of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a four-member committee has been constituted to ensure liaison with the federal government and monitor execution of the CPEC in order to resolve differences.
The committee comprises KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, opposition leader Maulana Lutfullah, Senior Minister Inayatullah Khan and Chief Secretary Amjad Ali Khan.
Speaking at a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday, the Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, Ahsan Iqbal, said that at a meeting in the Governor House he had answered questions raised in a 13-point letter sent to the federal government by the provincial government and had tried to remove reservations over the CPEC project.
The federal minister was accompanied by Senator Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Amir Muqam, Pir Sabir Shah and some MPAs.
Mr Iqbal said the federal government was determined to give due share from development schemes and funds to all the provinces and there was no plan to deprive KP of its rights.
He said that out of the $46 billion meant for the CPEC, $35bn was to be spent on power plants through the private sector.
He clarified that the Chinese government was not giving cash to Pakistan but was financing its companies so that they could invest in the country.
He said it was a new plan signed in July 2013, which was scheduled to be initiated in 2014, but could not start in time because of political turmoil in the country.
The original master plan of the CPEC, he said, would be strictly followed and no change had been made in its western route.
Mr Iqbal said he had briefed Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and his cabinet colleagues on the original master plan of the CPEC.
He said that no changes could be made in the project without consultation with all the provinces.
Stability in the energy sector, he said, would be crucial because adequate electricity production would be required to enable the CPEC project to deliver the desired results.
The minister clarified that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had inaugurated construction work on the missing sections of a road from Quetta to Gwadar, but this had wrongly been described as a change in the western route of the project.
The CPEC’s original master plan could be seen at the www.pc.gov.pk website.
“In the initial stage, dilapidated roads connecting Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab will be improved and missing sections of highways will be constructed, then industrial zones and corridors can be established,” he said.
Citing the potential benefits of the CPEC, the minister said that Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics and Mongolia had asked Pakistan to include them in the project.
He regretted that political points were being scored on the project. “This is an obstacle to progress. Misperceptions in media about the project should be removed.”
All the provinces would get equal share and no discrimination would be made, he gave an assurance.
“The CPEC is not a game changer but a fate changer of the entire country in terms of economic development,” he claimed.
Mr Iqbal said that due to the long march and sit-in in Islamabad by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, inauguration of the project was delayed for six months. The federal government was giving top priority to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in development of infrastructure and bringing reforms in education sector.
“Two major projects — the Dasu Dam and Diamer-Bhasha Dam — are being launched to strengthen the energy sector of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the minister said.
He said that construction work on the Munda and Kurram Tangi dams would start soon. The Higher Education Commission had started a number of projects and launched scholarship programmes for students of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he added.
Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2016