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PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday asked the federal planning and development secretary to verify in writing that in a recent meeting of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project’s Joint Cooperation Committee, no changes had been made to the developmental projects earlier envisaged in the multibillion dollars project for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Deputy director (media) of the CPEC project Shaukat Khattak told Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Syed Afsar Shah that the government adhered to its commitments on the CPEC project made in the JCC meeting held in China on Dec 29, 2016.

He said in the recent JCC meeting held on Nov 21 in Islamabad, no changes had been made to the earlier commitments made related to different schemes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The bench directed the official to submit a written assurance on behalf of the planning and development division that the projects earlier mentioned in the CPEC project for KP continued to be there.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar seeking multiple directions from the court for the development of the CPEC’s western route along with several other development projects in the province.

It later fixed the next hearing into the petition for Dec 5.

During the previous hearing, written comments were submitted on behalf of the secretary of the planning, development and reforms ministry, wherein several projects were mentioned saying those were approved in the JCC meeting held in Dec 2016.

Following the filing of the petition last year, KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak had claimed in Dec 2016 and Jan 2017 that several of the projects, which they had demanded, had been included in the CPEC.

Lawyer for the petitioner, Qazi Mohammad Anwar, told the court on Thursday that he had gone through the reply of the planning secretary and were satisfied with the commitments made regarding different project.

Shaukat Khattak and additional advocate general Manzoor Khalil represented the federal government.

Mr Shaukat told the court that no changes had been made in the earlier projects envisaged for KP in the CPEC project.

He added that in the recent meeting, there was a proposal of first setting up an economic zone at Hattar Industrial Estate instead of the Rashakai Economic Zone as industries had already been set up at the former’s site.

The CPEC project official however said the proposal was not adopted and that the JCC stuck to its earlier decision of first developing the Rashakai Economic Zone.

He said the assertion in question was mentioned in the minutes of the recent JCC meeting.

The written statement of the planning secretary mentioned that the JCC had agreed to the development of hydropower projects along the north Indus and that homework was underway to implement the 1700 megawatts projects in Gilgit-Baltistan and KP.

It added that the JCC had agreed to include the Greater Peshawar Mass Transit System in CPEC besides Chitral CPEC link road from Gilgit, Shandor and Chitral to Chakdara.

The statement also said railway track from Khunjrab to Havelian was also part of the long-term CPEC projects.

Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser prayed the court to ask the respondents to honour the premier’s commitments on the CPEC project, allocate funds and execute development projects on the corridor’s western route.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2017