Blacklisted firms got CPEC project contracts, says Wells

Published January 22, 2020
Amb Wells’ speech at a think tank event, which was attended by members of academia and representatives of civil society, criticised the flagship project of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative. — AP/File
Amb Wells’ speech at a think tank event, which was attended by members of academia and representatives of civil society, criticised the flagship project of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative. — AP/File

ISLAMABAD: Senior US diplomat Alice Wells on Tuesday renewed criticism of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), impliedly urging Islamabad to rethink its involvement with it.

Amb Wells’ speech at a think tank event, which was attended by members of academia and representatives of civil society, criticised the flagship project of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative.

She alleged that there was no transparency in CPEC projects, claiming Pakistan’s debt burden was growing due to the Chinese financing.

While her arguments looked like a repeat of the remarks she had earlier delivered at the Wilson Centre in Washington on Nov 21, 2019, the claims were renewed during her Islamabad trip a few days after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi sought closer engagement and a robust trade and investment relationship between Pakistan and the US.

FM Qureshi had also sought help from the US to get the country off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list.

While reiterating the allegations against CPEC, Amb Wells said companies blacklisted by the World Bank had got contracts in the CPEC.

The US diplomat also questioned the immunity from prosecution for the newly formed CPEC Autho­rity that served as the focal body working to identify new areas of cooperation and projects, besides facilitation, coordination and monitoring of ongoing projects.

About the debt problem, Amb Wells insisted that Chinese money was not assistance. By getting Chinese financing for the projects, Pakistan was buying expensive loans and as a buyer it needed to be aware of what it was doing as this would take a heavy toll on its already struggling economy, she contended.

The diplomat also touched on the cost escalation in railways ML-1 upgrade project. The link connects Karachi with Peshawar. She urged the government to be transparent about the mega project.

A Foreign Office statement, meanwhile, said US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells met Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood.

The agenda of the meeting largely comprised bilateral issues including the prospects of intensifying political engagement and expanding economic partnership. “It was emphasised that a strong trade and investment relationship was key to advancing the shared vision of the leadership of both countries for a long term, broad-based and enduring partnership,” the statement said.

While talking about human rights abuses by Indian troops in the occupied Kashmir and Delhi’s aggressive actions against Pakistan, including intensified LoC ceasefire violations, Mr Mahmood emphasised the need for international community to play its role for ending the rights violations and peaceful resolution of the dispute.

About peace and stability in Afghanistan, the foreign secretary reaffirmed Pakistan’s resolve to continue to support the peace process and pursue positive development in Pak-Afghan relations. Pakistan also remained committed to supporting the efforts for de-escalation of tensions and promoting the prospects of a diplomatic way forward on the differences and disputes in the Middle East, he said.

In a meeting with Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Nadeem Babar at the energy ministry office, Amb Wells said the US was ready to enhance cooperation with Pakistan in the energy sector especially in the renewable energy. Mr Babar proposed cooperation in tapping Pakistan’s Shale reserves, specialised training, investments in LNG infrastructure development, renewable energy and other avenues.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020

Opinion

More of the same
Updated 04 Mar 2021

More of the same

Civil society groups and political parties tend to treat their paid employees as casual labour.
The great Covid dole
Updated 04 Mar 2021

The great Covid dole

The government is serving the poor with its words and the rich with its deeds.
Informal sector
04 Mar 2021

Informal sector

Pakistan’s black economy is linked to governance.

Editorial

05 Mar 2021

Ravi project

THE assault by an enraged group of farmers on a provincial revenue team assigned to acquire land for the...
05 Mar 2021

Climate change

PAKISTAN received much less rainfall in January 2021 as compared to previous years, making it the 17th driest month...
05 Mar 2021

Antimicrobial resistance

WITH the focus on Covid-19, many health issues, though otherwise recognised as serious medical problems, tend to be...
04 Mar 2021

Senate upset

THE Senate election results have delivered a stunning blow to the PTI. While the ruling party has seen an increase ...
ME ‘security pact’
Updated 04 Mar 2021

ME ‘security pact’

THERE has been an overflowing of bonhomie between the Gulf Arabs and Israel over the past few months, much of it...
04 Mar 2021

Students’ protest

A GROUP of university students in Karachi and Hyderabad caught the media’s attention when they announced a...