CPEC Authority defunct for months, says PPP

Published October 14, 2020
PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar speaks at a press conference on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar speaks at a press conference on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has questioned the functioning of the China-Pakistan Economic Authority months after the lapse of the ordinance under which it had been established last year, saying the government does not seem serious about carrying forward the CPEC project.

Talking to Dawn after addressing a news conference on the country’s current political situation at the party’s Media Office here on Tuesday, PPP Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said the opposition would forcefully raise the issue on the floor of parliament.

Besides, the opposition party was weighing various options, including a legal challenge, to take up the matter as it would consult lawyers and legal experts on the matter, said Mr Khokhar, who is also official spokesperson for PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

Mr Khokhar said he considered that the CPEC Authority had become a defunct body and, therefore, its chairman and other officials could no more enjoy the financial perks and privileges.

Opposition party mulling various options, including legal challenge

He said the government was not serious about carrying forward the CPEC project, which was evident from the fact that it never made any effort to bring the CPEC Authority legislation to the National Assembly or the Senate to make it an act of parliament.

The senator said the government could have brought the legislation when it was pressing for the passage of the Financial Action Task Force-related laws and even convened a joint sitting of parliament.

He said it seemed that CPEC was not the priority of this government. When asked if the PPP would support the legislation, he said they would make a decision when the government would bring it to parliament.

U-turn on resignation

Earlier, speaking at the news conference, Senator Khokhar also objected to the decision of retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa to continue to hold the office of chairman of the CPEC Authority while stepping down as special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting in the wake of the allegations regarding his family’s assets and offshore businesses.

He wondered how could “a person with suspicious credibility” be allowed to head such a crucial body and run mega projects. “How can a person, who has resigned from one position, can run the mega project like CPEC? People have the right to know why he resigned or was he forced to resign,” Mr Khokhar said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had on Monday allowed retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa to relinquish the additional charge of SAPM on information and accepted the resignation he had submitted last month.

“I requested the honourable prime minister to relinquish me from the additional portfolio of SAPM on Info and broadcasting. He very kindly approved my request,” Mr Bajwa wrote on his official account on Twitter.

Earlier, the prime minister had refused to accept the resignation and directed Mr Bajwa to continue working as his aide.

The official PTI Twitter account had quoted the premier as saying that he was satisfied with the evidence provided by Mr Bajwa about his family’s assets.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2020

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