I WONDER why there is such a huge controversy about the route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The most feasible and strategic route for a north-south trade corridor with the shortest and most convenient access to Gwadar port is the Indus Highway. Moreover it fulfils all the prerequisites of the CPEC since it is the shortest link from the north of the country to Gwadar.
The route is on the west bank of Indus river and passes through all the under-developed and under-privileged population centres of KP, Balochistan and Sindh.
Instead of spending billions on building a new corridor from scratch in no-man’s-land to establish economic zones where there is no water, fuel, gas, electricity, telecom facilities etc, why not upgrade the already-existing Indus Highway, which is in a dilapidated state, into a world class motorway with a branch connecting Gwadar from Ratodero.
THE discord over the CPEC route has become a bone of contention between the federal, KP and Balochistan governments. Balochistan wants its exclusive ownership of all the resources on its land, including the Gwadar port and its allied facilities.
The KP government’s claim is that the shortest possible trade route be developed, which they think is the western route. It also says that industrial zones along the route be planned equitably, so that the benefit from the CPEC is distributed equally between all provinces. The demand for transparency in the execution of CPEC must be supported.
The Balochistan government’s claim that all resources on its soil including Gwadar port be under its exclusive ownership does, however, raise some problems. Natural resources and strategic projects like ports cannot be the exclusive property of any province. Such assets and strategic resources are a national asset and the whole nation has the right to benefit from it. However, the province where these natural resources and projects are situated should be given priority over the use of these resources and assets.
Akbar Jan Marwat
Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2016