PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday directed the federal government to positively file comments till March 2 in a writ petition filed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, seeking multiple directions from the court to the federal government for development of western route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) along with several other development projects in the province.

The bench comprising PHC Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Younas Taheem directed Manzoor Khalil, a deputy attorney general, to provide copy of the comments to the petitioner.

Asad Qaiser claims that he is custodian of the provincial assembly, which represents the collective will of the people of the province and is therefore duty bound to follow unanimous resolutions passed by the assembly regarding CPEC.

He claims that there five unanimous resolutions were passed by the provincial assembly to request the federal government to develop the western route of CPEC along with all other development components.

The respondents in the petition are: Federation of Pakistan through principal secretary to President of Pakistan; prime minister through his principal secretary: planning development and reforms division through secretary planning; federal communication secretary; chairman of National Highway Authority; Pakistan Railways through secretary railways; and, federal finance secretary.

When the bench took up the petition for hearing, Manzoor Khalil said that comments on behalf of the federal secretary planning division were almost final and he may be allowed some time to file the same.

The bench directed him to file the comments till March 2, the next date of hearing.

Advocate Qazi Mohammad Anwer appeared for the petitioner.

The petitioner has prayed the court to issue directions to the respondents to honour the commitments of prime minister made on May 28, 2015. The petitioner requests the court to direct the respondents to make an unqualified commitment that the western route of CPEC shall receive the same quantum of funds which are being spent on the eastern route and that the share and development of western route shall in no way be allowed to be usurped by western route.

The speaker has prayed the court to direct the respondents to provide funds for establishment of eight industrial parks under CPEC as per decision taken on February 15, 2016, at Battagram, Mansehra, Captain Karnal Sher Khan Interchange on Motorway, Malakand, Chakdara Interchange, Swat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan; directions to the respondents to ensure and provide electricity, gas, telephone lines, fibre optics, railway lines and all other relevant services to the industrial parks and include the industrial parks in economic, transport and social sector policy and also establish IT development programmes at the sites.

He requests the high court to issue directions to complete the feasibility and start work on circular railway line from Peshawar to Nowshera, Mardan, Charsadda and back to Peshawar, western railway track from Dera Ismail Khan to Peshawar; motorway from Dera Ismail Khan to Peshawar; and motorway from Karak to Taxila via Kohat-Jhand.

The petitioner has also requested the court to issue directions to include the alternate highway route from Bisham-Khwazakhela-Mardan-Nowshera-Peshawar and another alternate route to Karakoram Highway from Gilgit-Chitral, Chakdara-Peshawar-Kohat-Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob-Quetta-Gwadar and also provide additional highway on Karakoram Highway from Bisham to Khwazakhela-Chakdara-Peshawar-Kohat-Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob-Quetta-Gwadar.

He says when CPEC was announced in April 2015, the provincial assembly had passed two resolutions, welcoming the agreement and urging federal government to give due share of development to western route.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2017