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CPEC transparency

Published May 16, 2017 03:00am


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NOW, more than ever, transparency in the CPEC project has become crucially important. As a report in this newspaper yesterday showed, the economic corridor goes far beyond highways and power plants, and its scope needs to be understood by everyone and its implications extensively debated in public. The denials issued by the planning minister via his Twitter account, calling the story “factually incorrect”, and one that is aimed to create fear, make little sense. The general sentiment is pro-CPEC; and this newspaper also supports the project. But that does not mean the government has carte blanche to negotiate the terms of this massive enterprise entirely in secret. The people have a right to know what exactly is being negotiated; this is especially crucial given the scale of the joint enterprise.

The government is now claiming that an “abridged version” of the Long-Term Plan has been shared with key stakeholders, including industry and the provincial governments, and that their feedback has been incorporated. But why has only an “abridged version” been shared? Even this looks almost identical to the longer version upon which yesterday’s story was based — except that the details have been removed. Saying that the story was based on a “redundant document” sounds disingenuous at best. Pakistan’s feedback on the plan was discussed at a Joint Cooperation Committee meeting held in Karachi on Nov 12, 2016. The plan was finalised on Dec 29, 2016. Less than two months separate these two dates. How many revisions did the Pakistani government manage to incorporate in the Long-Term Plan during this period considering there was only one “special bilateral meeting” in between?

The larger issue here remains one of greater transparency in the execution of CPEC. If there are reservations on the part of China to widen the debate on the project, then it becomes the government’s job to explain to their Chinese counterparts that our political traditions demand greater transparency. All economic documents that contain plans for the medium term are public documents in this country. This includes the five-year plans and the IMF agreements. The CPEC Long-Term Plan cannot be an exception, especially since it goes further than any past economic plan in terms of its impact on the economy. There are no reasons to fear CPEC, nor should there be an automatic aversion to greater Chinese entry into our economy. But any anxieties on that count can only be alleviated through greater disclosure of the terms on which the project is being negotiated. Keeping matters secret, then issuing indignant denials that will clearly not survive scrutiny, only fans anxiety. The government should immediately prepare to reveal the full extent of the understandings it has entered into with the government of China, including placing whatever document that has been signed as the lead agreement on CPEC before parliament.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2017


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Comments (26) Closed

Syed F. Hussaini May 16, 2017 03:12am

May be we are stuck in a distorted frame of time and space where we can't tell if it is a fire sale or a surrender or a combination of both and where we wonder why we feel more affinity for an imagined foe than for an equally imagined friend.

Princess_of_DHUMP May 16, 2017 03:39am

Pretty soon our media will also demand reserved seats for anchors, investigatoo journalists etc in the parliament.

human May 16, 2017 05:51am

CEPC looks ambiguous, and till medium term there is nothing for ordinary Pakistani people. The Govt need to publicize all document regarding the CEPC.

M. Emad May 16, 2017 06:15am

Chinese big projects usually not transparent.

Alba May 16, 2017 06:54am

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may have been reading Donald Trumps's books.

SALMAN ALI May 16, 2017 08:46am

Ideally, there should be a Strong, Competent, Independent Planning Commission. State Bank has achieved that status to a large degree. The Planning Commission should lead the discussions, incorporate feedback from different stakeholders and then submit final proposal for the Parliament for Approval.

Alas, will remain a wishful thinking

Logical May 16, 2017 08:55am

Major deals have been signed and agreed upon already. Just make the details public. Holding back this data creates doubts and insecurity in the public.

Iftikhar bhutta May 16, 2017 10:11am

There is great question of transparency in Chinese projects and should be clarified by Pakistani government for its future fall outs .

A May 16, 2017 10:21am

Great Service to the Pakistani Nation by Dawn!

Iftikhar bhutta May 16, 2017 10:39am

Dawn is most efficient in investigating journalism and tries to unearth realities for awareness of nation . We are proud of this daring and fact based journalism .

Whats.thefuss May 16, 2017 10:47am

I dont understand all the fuss. We wants China to invest billions of dollars and provide jobs for everyone in Pakistan and put money in everyone's pocket. In return they are just asking for us to do a few small things. Remove the beard and the cap and dance to chinese songs. Obviously they will tell us what to do , where to do it and when to do it. Our big boys will gets big toys from China instead of the US. The currency will become rimimbi instead of rupee. They will not allow us into special zones reserved for Chinese. But this is to protect our culture and nothing else. Yes some of us will think this is enslavement and some of us may adopt Chinese names and dress to get some benefits. But what is the fuss, we will have our pockets full and will become rich . Yes all of us.

Saleem Chaudhry May 16, 2017 10:52am

Dawn's standis very well- founded and cocern of all conscientious -minded Pakistanis. I recall in an International convention on Pakistan's Economic conditions organised by Dr. Shahida Wizarat dean of Economics in IOBM, Chairman of Guard group of companies said that in the light terms of agreement so far made public,it's not win-win deal for both Pakistan and China but a sweeping win for China only. One of the most renowned and knowdleable economist of Pakistan Dr Farrukh Saleem has widely theexposed implications and complications of the terms of deals for different projects announced under CEPEC.

parag May 16, 2017 11:19am

First rate journalism, Dawn lives to its fame and tradition.

Syed F. Hussaini May 16, 2017 11:31am


You would make the best information minister this country ever had, Sir!

Thanks for the education.

m.m amin (old ravian ) May 16, 2017 11:32am

Your solution : place the lead documents before the parliament .Agreed .But who in power has ever accepted transparency ? Surrogate Opposition in the Parliament ? Lets hope deals are in line with the national interest .

azadi dil KI May 16, 2017 12:15pm

Good sign that Pakistan slowly but surely seeing the true face of soft spoken iron brother's intentions. Thanks DAWN.

Salman May 16, 2017 12:15pm

@PrincessofDHUMP Why not, they already have a better attendance record than most parliamentarians

Majeed ULlah May 16, 2017 12:44pm

These should be publicize.

Khanm May 16, 2017 01:42pm

A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity. Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. Trust, honesty, humility, transparency and accountability are the building blocks of a positive reputation.

khalil A. Hassan May 16, 2017 01:49pm

DAWN deserves to be commended for disclosing the CPEC-LTP : a demand for which has been consistently made by both the public and the parliamentarians, over the past couple of years, with no response from government. Longer term bilateral agreements must not only be shared with professional think tanks and experts, but also need to be ratified by parliaments after detailed discussions on their merits.We are aware of the lack of interest and competence of our concerned institutions and bureaucracy to render meaningful input in such matters. Supreme Court has recently observed a complete breakdown of our national institutions to be of much use in carrying out their responsibilities and instead follow the desires of the people in power. We have some internationally qualified and acknowledged economists and financial experts, whose independent evaluation of CPEC-LTP could have benefited the country in finalizing a Plan providing a win-win position for both China and Pakistan.

Shahid May 16, 2017 03:16pm

Transparency? People are happy to elect kings and emperors. So only people can remove them. So they proclaim gleefully. Oversights such as accountability, transparency, constitutional restraints, etc. do not mean nothing. State institutions established for these purposes are ineffectual and amount to wastage of national resources. Is JIT under the watch of the same under-probe executive meaningful? Raising questions is OK. But to what use if 'parnala' of questionable governance is to stay put without accountability and transparency. As gor CPEC, it is good for its sponsor. Without knowing full details, it is dangerous to assume it is also so for the grossly unequal partner on whose ground it will play out. Know the facts first.

Dr. RAJAB MEMON May 16, 2017 07:57pm

Minister P&D has handled CPEC program secretly all along ever since the APC. All trade of Punjab would be channeled thru Sindh; hence the up gradation of KHI-PR Railway track. Environmentally hazardous projects are all being installed on Sindh coast.

Arun May 16, 2017 09:45pm


Great comments.... Amazing sense of humour. Salute. You should write often :)

kannan May 17, 2017 01:04am

It is very balanced analysis of the CPEC and transparency. But don't blame this Govt, any political party at the helm of affairs will do the same when it comes to dealing with China.

mohammed daud May 17, 2017 01:23am

Thank you Dawn for your comments. Please do not make CPEC an issue of dispute. All sincere Pakistanis strongly support CPEC for the following reasons: 1. CPEC is offered by our most trusted, sincere, dependable, honest neighbor China, who never cheated Pakistan; at any point of time, we have tremendous confidence in this friendship since our independence. Contrary to this our next big neighbor never left any opportunity to cheat and harm Pakistan since 1947. 2. Pakistan’s enemies are very much upset ever since this project was made public. It is a nightmare, stomachache for them, just look at their adverse comments whenever CPEC is discussed. 3. India tried her best to dissuade China to drop this project, India's claim was as the CPEC passes through Azad Kashmir, which as per their statement belongs to India.

This should be an eye opener for all Pakistanis to support CPEC whole heartedly; they should not fall into the trap of India.

aisha May 19, 2017 12:30pm

This report is from Chinese perspective, what the Chinese plan to do. Don't expect China to think in PAK's interest. That is PAK government's business to obtain a win-win deal for the country, thought negotiating the deal terms. PAK government is ruling the country, not China. It is normal for China to act in its own interest. It is not china's business/job to think for the pakistanis. You can't blame china for this.