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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday directed the federal government to verify the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister’s claim about the inclusion of certain developmental projects in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), including trade and western routes related to the province.

Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Roohul Amin Khan Chamkani issued the directions during the hearing into a petition filed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar to seek the court’s multiple directions for the federal government to develop the western route of the CPEC along with the execution of several other development projects in the province.

After the filing of the petition last year, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had claimed in Dec 2016 and Jan 2017 that several projects, which they had demanded, were part of the CPEC project.

Issues directions on PA speaker’s petition

In light of the CM’s statements, the petitioner filed two applications wherein he had referred to two news items which had appeared on Dec 30, 2016, and Jan 1, 2017, carrying statements of the chief minister.

He requested the court to ask the federal government to verify whether the projects mentioned by the chief minister, including the development of the western route of CPEC were included in the CPEC.

Qazi Mohammad Anwar, lawyer for the petitioner, said while the chief minister had expressed satisfaction with the prevalent situation regarding inclusion of different projects in the CPEC project, it would be appropriate to get it verified by the federal government.

He added that the chief minister was a political figure and it had to be ascertained whether his claim was merely a political statement or a reality.

Deputy attorney general Asghar Khan Kundi and CPEC deputy director (media) Shaukat Khattak appeared for the government and assured the court that they would submit the response of the planning division on the matter.

The chief minister had claimed that on completion the CPEC project would expand the number of trade routes to other countries which will directly benefit Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The government, he had said, was working on different socio-economic sector projects related to CPEC including private hydropower projects, Havalian dry port, Hazara Motorway, Havelian to Khunjerab Rail Track, Khunjerab Railway and Up-gradation of Karachi Peshawar main railway line.

He had also insisted that an alternate route would also be included connecting China town Kashghar via Khunjarab-Bisham- Swat-Chakdara and Gilgit-Chitral and Chakdara.

Asad Qaisar said he was the custodian of the assembly, which represented the collective will of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and therefore, he was duty bound to follow unanimous resolutions passed by the assembly regarding CPEC.

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

The petitioner has prayed the court to issue directions /appropriate orders to the respondents to honour the commitments of the prime minister made on May 28, 2015, in the APC meeting on CPEC and allocate funds and commence the development projects on the Western Route of CPEC.

He also requested the court to direct the respondents to make an unqualified commitment that the western route would 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.

Earlier in April, the federal planning ministry had requested the court to dismiss the petition as both the eastern and western routes would be developed in the short term planned period.

In his comments filed in the case in the high court, the federal secretary planning, reforms and development, had stated that the resolutions passed by the KP Assembly regarding the CPEC were not binding on the government, however, concerns of KP Government were duly considered.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2017