The Balochistan Assembly on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution where it urged the federal government to constitute a national commission to settle what it termed the “injudicious distribution of projects and funds under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)”.
Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) lawmaker Sanaullah Baloch tabled the resolution which was backed by legislators from both treasury and opposition benches demanding an equal share for the province.
"Balochistan's current share under CPEC is only 4.5 per cent," Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal said while commenting on the resolution. If we don’t include Gwadar Port and HUBCO projects, then “Balochistan's share in CPEC is reduced to a meagre one percent”, Jam Kamal complained.
While talking about the feasibility of the resolution, Baloch said the "western route [of CPEC] has been completely ignored and all projects have been diverted towards the eastern route".
“Balochistan has been ignored in the $62 billion [CPEC] project in terms of development schemes and allocation of funds,” read the resolution. Despite having a wide coastal belt and plenty of mineral resources, Balochistan has repeatedly been denied its due share, the BNP-M lawmaker said.
Baloch mentioned that 99 per cent investment was done with regards to industrial development on the eastern route, ignoring Balochistan.
Chief Minister Jam Kamal further complained that during the last five years the province was ignored by Islamabad and that only Rs300 billion out of the Rs5,000 billion were spent in Balochistan.
On the other hand, Raisani raised complaints about the transparency of the project and demanded that the provincial assembly should be taken into confidence regarding the CPEC-related agreements.
Editorial: CPEC and Balochistan
Dawn had earlier highlighted that the federal government describes the Gwadar-Hoshab-Surab road as a section of the western route in its official briefs and maps when in fact it is the southern common alignment. The government does so because this is the only road that has been built in Balochistan over the last five years.
The reality is that this road is neither part of the western route nor is it a CPEC project at all. This scheme was conceived during the period of General Pervez Musharraf. Construction work on it began in 2007, long before CPEC came into being. The federal government insists on showing it as part of the CPEC’s western route just to deflect political pressure and criticism and to disingenuously show that progress has been made on the route in Balochistan.
Over five years have passed since the memorandum of understanding on CPEC was signed in 2013 and progress on the western alignment remains virtually nonexistent. In fact, zero progress has been made on the 750km stretch of Balochistan component of the western alignment. Even worse, nearly three-fourths of the Balochistan component (Zhob-Quetta-Surab section) is not even included in the CPEC infrastructure portfolio.
The only section that is officially on the CPEC infrastructure agenda is the D I Khan-Zhob section (205km) but here too no progress has actually been made. In contrast, construction work on the eastern alignment is likely to be completed by the end of 2019.
Earlier this month, ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) founder Saeed Ahmed Hashmi had said that Federal Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiar has confirmed that the western route is not part of the CPEC.
“The apprehensions of the people and political forces of Balochistan have proved to be true after the federal minister’s statement,” Hashmi had said, adding that if the planning minister’s statement was true then it would be a big injustice with the people of Balochistan.
During a meeting of the Balochistan cabinet in December, the members were reportedly left shell-shocked at the end of a briefing on the progress of CPEC projects in the province when it was revealed that no progress had been made in any projects outside Gwadar and a meagre share of the province was revealed in the overall portfolio of CPEC projects.
The briefing was provided by the CPEC Cell that the Balochistan government has recently established with help from the World Bank.
In April, former Balochistan chief minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo had said that his province was being neglected by the federal government in the CPEC project. “More than Rs5,000 billion is being spent on the CPEC, but Balochistan is not receiving even one per cent of it,” he had said.