ISLAMABAD: Opposition members of the Parliamentary Committee on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on Thursday registered their strong protest over the role of the committee and termed it a ‘useless’ body.
Interestingly, only six out of 22 members of the committee attended the meeting held under the chairmanship of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed.
Leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Shibli Faraz and Asad Umar lodged a protest during the meeting and said the point of view of members of opposition parties were not incorporated in the minutes of the meetings.
“Due to our protest it is for the first time that our statements and points of view have been incorporated in the minutes of the meeting,” Mr Faraz told Dawn after the meeting.
Only six out of 22 members of the committee attend the meeting
He questioned the role of the committee and claimed that it did not follow its mandate and terms of reference under which it was supposed to monitor the CPEC projects, oversee contracts and ensure transparency. “Facts are being concealed from the nation. The government has to tell the truth,” he added.
Mr Umar said the committee should be wrapped up as it had lost its mandate. “This committee has no role,” he added.
He asked about the achievements made by the committee, if any. There was no need for such a body, he added.
Talking to Dawn, the chairman of the committee, Mushahid H. Sayed, rejected the claims of PTI leaders and said the committee had done a lot in resolving issues related to the CPEC. “Last year provincial governments were fighting with the Centre for getting their share in the CPEC. This committee got all contentious issues resolved,” he said.
Recalling what he called achievements of the committee, he said it was because of the body’s efforts that controversies over the CPEC’s western route had been resolved, Gilgit-Baltistan taken in the loop, Gwadar port made operational, provinces taken on board, the Thar coal power plant made operational and railways system upgraded.
Referring to some controversial road contracts awarded by the National Highway Authority, Mr Sayed said the committee could not go into details of award of contracts. “I have heard about some wrongdoing in some of these contracts,” he said.
According to an official handout, the meeting was briefed on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to be established under the CPEC.
Privatisation Commission chairman Miftah Ismail briefed the committee on the criteria for establishing SEZs as well as setting up such SEZs under the CPEC.
He said that nine locations for SEZs had been declared as priority sites under the CPEC and each province plus the federal area, Gilgit-Baltistan had been allocated SEZs.
“These sites have been identified by the provincial governments and there is close coordination between federal and provincial governments,” he said.
A Chinese delegation will be in Pakistan in the first week of June to visit these sites and discuss their feasibilities. The final decision will be made in consultation between the Chinese and Pakistani sides.
The sites include Rashakai in Nowshera, Hattar, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Bostan near Quetta, Khuzdar, Dhabeji and Keti Bandar plus Gilgit and a federal industrial zone in Islamabad as well as one near Port Qasim.
The parliamentary committee directed the ministry of water and power to carry out wind corridor surveys in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan which are being done and necessary monitoring stations have been established in both provinces.
Earlier the chairman of the committee briefed the meeting about his participation in Belt and Road Forum in Beijing which was held on May 14-15.
The committee welcomed the proactive participation of Pakistan’s delegation in the forum led by the prime minister which included the chief ministers of the four provinces.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2017