ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has formed a high-powered steering committee for periodical consultation with the provinces on matters related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Besides constituting the 11-member committee, a number of important agreements were also made during a consultative meeting held in Islamabad under the chair of the premier to address the reservations of political parties regarding CPEC, a statement issued by the PM House said on Friday.
Representatives of all parties and provincial governments attended the meeting.
According to the statement, it was decided to carry out the construction of the western route of CPEC on priority.
“Working on the principle of one corridor, multiple passages, the western alignment for CPEC will be constructed on priority, with a timeline of two years and six months, i.e. July 15, 2018,” the statement read.
All parties, the statement claimed, affirmed their support to the CPEC, agreeing that the new institutional framework will be able to better accommodate the regional concerns in future.
It was also decided that the western alignment for CPEC will be a four-lane expressway in the first phase, but with a provision for subsequent conversion into six-lane limited access motorway, for which land acquisition will be the responsibility of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government.
The development comes a week after the Chinese government urged the government, its allies and opposition parties to resolve their differences on the route of the multibillion dollar project.
“China hopes the relevant parties in Pakistan could strengthen communication and coordination on the CPEC to create favourable conditions for the project,” the Chinese embassy in Islamabad said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the K-P government also threatened to take extreme steps if the federal government did not complete the western alignment of the project on a priority basis.
Pakistan and China had signed an agreement on April 20 last year to commence work on CPEC development projects worth over $46 billion, which comes to roughly 20 per cent of Pakistan’s annual GDP.
The corridor aims to connect Gwadar port in Balochistan to China’s Xinjiang region via a network of highways, railways and pipelines spread over 3,000km. Work on several sections has already started but the entire project is expected to take several years to complete.