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July 17, 2016

Only 3 Senate body members attend meeting on CPEC

Islamabad

July 17, 2016

Islamabad

The all-important meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development and Reforms held on Friday at the Parliament House was attended by only three (including chairman of the committee) out of its 12 members which was given briefing by various executing agency representatives on CPEC, CASA 1000 etc.

Interestingly no senator from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which had been expressing maximum reservations against execution mode of CPEC turned up whereas committee chairman Tahir Hussain Mashhadi from urban Sindh, Usman Kakar from Balochistan and Senator Mohsin Leghari from southern Punjab were present. Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal also remained away from the meeting. The chairman therefore decided to convene second meeting next month and arrange another briefing by the concerned officials. A team of officials from Balochistan also attended the meeting leaving all other provinces without representation.

Senator Usman Kakar came very hard on the planning ministry for hoodwinking smaller provinces as he expressed his complete disenchantment with what he described as discriminatory execution of CPEC diverting its maximum benefits to the larger province and depriving smaller ones especially Baluchistan. When asked why KP representatives were absent from the meeting he alleged that CM Parvaiz Khattak was silent due to his party chairman’s compromise on the project since it accords maximum benefits to Punjab. Kakar alleged that today’s meeting was informed during briefing that the eastern route including motorways, railways, gas pipeline would be completed by 2018 whereas PC I of the western route will be completed by the same year. He said Ahsan Iqbal being ex-officio member of the committee did not attend the briefing because he knew he could not reply to the queries on CPEC.

Talking to The News after the meeting Kakar said “I have told the meeting that the CPEC was not a game changer as is generally believed but it was a project of destruction of Pakistan if the western route was not given its due share”. He said the government had set aside only Rs.800 million for the Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob Quetta road in the current budget out of Rs.90 billion estimated cost. He alleged that while Rs40 billion has been set aside for the Railway on eastern route no provision is made in the same head on western route. While a total of Rs.190 billion are earmarked for the eastern route projects only Rs1.020 billion is allocated for the Dera-Zhob-Quetta road. He said the amount being spent on Gwadar is wrongly being included in western route although the said port is totally being developed by China.

He said the irony was that the DI Khan-Zhob road was a common route for both eastern and western routes but the amounts spend on it are reflected as of western route. Turning to the energy projects he said Rs3500 billion is being spent on energy sector to generate 16,400 megawatt additional electricity all of them on eastern route with not a single penny being provided for western route.

In the end he questioned “If there would be no addition to the electricity, gas pipeline, railway who will invest in the proposed economic zones and industrial areas alongside the western route?”

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