PESHAWAR: The federal planning, development and reform ministry on Thursday requested the Peshawar High Court to dismiss a petition of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly speaker seeking multiple directions for the federal government to develop the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, insisting the development of both eastern and western routes of the multibillion dollars corridor is part of the short-term plan.

The request was made in the comments filed by the planning secretary on Asad Qaiser’s petition with the court.

A high court bench consisting of Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ikramullah Khan held a brief hearing into the case on Thursday.

The schedule for the next hearing will be announced afterward.

Centre insists KP’s concerns about project addressed

Senior lawyer Qazi Mohammad Anwar appeared for petitioner Asad Qaiser, whereas deputy attorney general Manzoor Khalil represented the federal government.

The petitioner claimed that there were five unanimous resolutions passed by the KP Assembly requesting the federal government to develop the western route of the CPEC along with all other development components.

In the comments, the secretary said it was not binding for the federal government to follow the resolutions passed by the KP Assembly regarding the CPEC.

He, however, insisted that the concerns of KP government about the project were duly considered and addressed.

The secretary said the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Cooperation of Developing ‘China Pakistan Economic Corridor’ Long Term Plan and Action Plan between National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of the People’s Republic of China and the planning, development and reform ministry was signed during the visit of the prime minister to Beijing on July 5, 2013.

He said the MoU provided to undertake research on communication networks including roads, railways, fiber optic cables, and oil and gas pipelines linking western China with Gwadar.

The secretary said the MoU was aimed at formulating a long-term plan from present to 2030 defining overall directions, ideas and goals of cooperation and that the MoU envisaged connection of western China with Gwadar.

He however said after consensus was reached between both sides, the monographic study on transport planning of CPEC was approved by the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) in its 5thmeeting held in Karachi on Nov 12, 2015.

The secretary said both eastern and western routes of the corridor had missing links, which were being developed to connect all major connection points.

He said after the approval of monographic study by the JCC, all its maps showing plans for highways, railways and Gwadar port were uploaded to the Planning Commission website. He added that the said study had been shared with the KP government and other relevant stakeholders.

He added that the western route was being developed in line with the consensus reached in the multiparty conference held under the chairmanship of the prime minister on May 28, 2015.

“Chief Minister KP confirmed during a meeting held in the Ministry of Planning, Development& Reform on May 10, 2016, that the western alignment DI Khan-Hakla is as agreed in the multiparty conference held on May 28, 2015,” he said.

The secretary said the KP government had shared the Chitral CPEC link road from Gilgit, Shandoor and Chitral to Chakdara with the federal government for incorporation as priority new project and that has been duly included in CPEC projects portfolio.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2017