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ISLAMABAD: Members of the parliamentary committee on the China-Pakis­tan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be heading to China for a week, where Chi­nese authorities are expected to address the reservations of certain opposition parties over the corridor’s western route.

Committee chairman Mushahid Hussain Sayed told Dawn after a meeting of the committee that the members would proceed to China on May 20, where they would hold detailed meetings with Chinese government functionaries and witness how an industrial park functions there.

According to Mr Hussain, the committee will visit three cities; Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou — an industrial park between China and Singapore.

The visit coincides with the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China.

Trip to include briefings from senior govt functionaries; Ahsan Iqbal says universities in Gwadar, Zhob to be functional by Sept

On Thursday, the committee held a detailed meeting with special reference to Balochistan, where members expressed reservations on a survey, conducted by the Ministry of Water and Power on the wind corridor project for Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The committee asked the ministry to conduct a fresh survey so that the people of Balochistan could benefit from the other sources of energy available in the country,” the committee head said.

The Balochistan chief secretary told the committee that a provincial government survey on the subject had proposed four different sites: Gwadar, Quetta, Qila Saifullah and Naukandi; while the Wapda survey only proposed two sites: one in Gwadar and the other in Quetta.

In order to address the opposition’s reservations, the committee emphasised the need for frequent meetings of the CPEC steering committee, which is headed by the prime minister and includes all chief ministers.

“The committee should at least meet once in two months, so that all issues are resolved through consultation and consensus,” the chairman observed.

The three-hour-long meeting was also briefed by Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal.

Acting Chinese Ambassador Zhao Lijian also briefed the committee on CPEC projects, and formally extended an invitation to the members to visit China.

Mr Iqbal apprised the meeting that a new Smart Port City Master Plan for Gwadar was under preparation in cooperation with Chinese experts, and announced that two universities, located along CPEC’s western corridor in Gwadar and Zhob, would start functioning by Sept this year.

The committee was also briefed on the progress made under the Suki Kenari hydro project in Mansehra.

Opposition members demanded that a six-lane corridor be built on the western route instead of the planned four-lane road, and that industrial zones and other infrastructure promised by the government along the western route should be ensured.

“The government has allocated sufficient money for the western route, but opposition parties are demanding a six-lane road, as well as an industrial park,” Mr Sayed told Dawn.

He appreciated the Balochistan chief minister’s support in promoting CPEC and stressed that the corridor was above the concerns of any person, party, province or government, since it was a national and strategic project spread over 15 years.

Others who attended the meeting included Abdul Qadir Baloch, Aftab Sherpao, Rana Mohammad Afzal, Awais Leghari, Ghous Bux Meher, Shahjee Gul Afridi, Senator Sardar Fateh Mohammad, Senator Hasil Bizenjo, Esphanyar Bhand­hara and Senator Baz Mohammad Khan.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2016