ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked the Planning Commission to provide complete details of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) particularly the implementation status of the projects located on the western route, it is learnt reliably here on Sunday.
“The Prime Minister office has asked for the detailed record of the CPEC projects particularly the ones located on the western rout,” official sources told local media.
The Prime Minister Office directives came in response to severe criticism from the opposition parties over the imbalance allocation of funds for the different routes of CPEC which has created a sense of deprivation among the small provinces particularly the Pashtun belt of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Although the government has finally decided to construct the Western route as dual carriageway and finance it from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure development funds. The government earlier had claimed that the Western route was part of the CPEC but actually it was a single road and was being constructed with the Asian Development Bank funds. But even this decision, of constructing Western route as dual carriageway, failed to satisfy the proponent of the Western Route and they are still pressing the government to construct Western Route on priority basis and distribute the projects equally between the various routes.
The CPEC is multi-sectoral project that includes energy, infrastructure/ roads, Gwadar port, social projects, and industrial zones. The opposition parties and nationalist parliamentarians are terming CPEC is China Punjab Economic Corridor.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, last week, Awami National Party (ANP) Chief Asfandyaar Wali discussed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC and expressed concerns over ignoring Western route. The ANP chief told prime minister that the western route, which is shortest route will benefit the all the provinces and asked to prioritise it.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal, has time and again reiterated that building of the Western alignment of CPEC is the first and foremost priority of the government and the work on missing Gwadar-Quetta link of Western route would be completed by December 2016.
But the Opposition parties are contesting the government by asserting that not a single penny has been allocated for the Western route, under CPEC, in the PSDP. The Opposition parties were also upset with the government by not following the commitment made by the Prime Minister at the APC for construction of the Western route.
The provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have alleged that the Federal government is giving priority to the Eastern route and ignoring the Western route. The allocations in PSDP and the recent inaugurations under the CPEC has created anxiety among the opposition and nationalist parties as they think that the eastern route is the priority of the federal government while western route is being ignored. A major portion of funds, $38 billion out of $46 billion, of CPEC project will be spend on energy projects, majority of them located on the eastern and central route.
The opposition leaders in National Assembly Khurshid Shah and ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak, in a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also expressed their frustration over the way the government was implementing Western Route projects.
Syed Khurshid Shah criticised the government for ignoring the Western route and said that “the Eastern route under the CPEC is being given priority while the Western route which is shorter is being ignored”. Khurshid S|hah asked the government to revisit its policy regarding the developmental work on CPEC.
It may be added that the CPEC is a 15-year project between Pakistan and China spanning 2015-30, while according the government claim the Western route is among the Early Harvest Projects which have to be completed by 2016.
Web Monitoring Desk