Tuesday April 16, 2024

Sindh ignored in CPEC: Fazalullah Qureshi

By our correspondents
February 16, 2017

SUKKUR: A one-day seminar on “Geographical Importance of China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its Impact on the Economy of Pakistan” was organised by the Department of Geography, Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, here on Wednesday.

While addressing, former Federal Secretary Fazalullah Qureshi said that CPEC was a breakthrough for Pakistan and China. “After the Afghan war, it was the need of the hour to build new alliances and corridors,” he said. “India has hegemony over the Indian Ocean.”

He claimed: “Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was the pioneer of Pak-China relations. He had put forward various development projects, including the Kohat Tunnel, Indus Highway, Saindak Project, but due to political biases these projects suffered.”

He said: “Gwadar is a strategic port because China is competing with the US. India has its ambitions to become the world power. China is our best friend. We are finding our friends because the US has betrayed Pakistan on various occasions. The Kashmir issue is one of such evidences.”

Qureshi added that the US had supported dictators. He revealed that former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari visited China 16 times in order to materialise CPEC, but CPEC was inaugurated in the tenure of PML-N. Fazulullah Quereshi said that the project was lacking transparency now. He said that the concerns of the chambers of commerce were also not addressed. They had claimed that investors would have a great threat with the opening of the new economic corridors, because a policy had not been devised to bring investors on board in CPEC.

He said that Hafeez Pasha, Salman Shah, and Dr Ashique in their articles wrote that CPEC was a terrible project. He said, “Even after that, a committee was not constituted to probe the execution of the project which was announced by the prime minister of Pakistan.”

The former federal secretary said that Rs500 billion circular debt issues were also not clearly mentioned. Qureshi claimed that Sindh had been completely ignored from the CPEC and the Thar Coal Project was already executed by the Engro company. However, he said, that it was still uncertain if the Ketty Bandar project would be a part of CPEC or not.

He said that 5,000MW power was available, but the terms and conditions with IPPs regarding power generation in CPEC projects were not cleared. He said that CPEC was facing security threats in its implementation and said that India was trying its level best to sabotage the project. He said that the project might bring a geo-political change.

He further added that abandoning the Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline was a big mistake by the PML-N government.

Dr Ahsanullah Khattak presented his paper on “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Prospects and Constraints”. He said, “China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative covers countries and regions with a total population of 4.4 billion and a total economic volume of US$21 trillion. CPEC is the foundation for regional cooperation for improving economic growth, offering trade diversification, investing in transportation, mining and energy sectors and creating political flexibility. CPEC is an under construction $46 billion mega project which is intended to upgrade and expand Pakistani infrastructure. The investment program is part of a Chinese master plan titled ‘One Belt, One Road’, which is a planned network of road, rail, oil and gas pipelines and maritime routes that stretch from China to South and Central Asia.”

Dr Khattak further added, “CPEC’s planned investments in Pakistan are heavily concentrated in energy, followed by coal mining and road networks. The main substance of the corridor is the Gwadar Port and the Gwadar-Kashgar highway; the rest is icing on the cake. The completion of Gwadar would make it the economic hub of Balochistan and create a strategic nexus between Pakistan, China and Central Asia, generating billions in revenue and providing shorter land routes up to approximately 10,000 km. It would provide links from the Caspian Sea to the Strait of Hormuz, and enable Gwadar to compete with Persian Gulf ports. The prospects of mega project are diverse investment opportunities, industrial cooperation, financial cooperation, agricultural cooperation, tourism, educational linkages, human resource development, healthcare and people-to-people contacts.”

He further said, “CPEC also calls for construction of railways to connect the Gwadar Port to Pakistan’s railway system at Jacobabad, with eventual construction of a railway line all the way to China’s Sinkiang province, 3,000 kilometers away, via the proposed Khunjerab Railway. A Rs300 million study to establish feasibility of constructing the 682-kilometer rail line between Havelian and the Chinese border is already underway.”

Dr Khattak pointed out the constraints of the project. He remarked that the Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa adopted a resolution against the alleged decision of the central government to change the multibillion route of the proposed project by diverting it from the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “However, the provincial assembly advised the central government to stick to the same route as agreed upon between the governments of Pakistan and China, and passed a resolution stating that a change in the route, not incorporating Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, would be a disadvantage for the economic interests of the people of the war-torn province,” he said. “In addition, some local Baloch nationalists have expressed dismay at the project, noting the difficult economic conditions of Gwadar residents and saying any such development would deny locals control over their native resources. India, which maintains tense relations with Pakistan, has viewed the project with objections, particularly as it crosses through the Pakistani-administered side of Kashmir, a region contested between the two countries.” He also added, “According to the Indian foreign affairs ministry, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to China raised his objections over the corridor.”

Prof Dr Mumtaz Hussain Mahar said, “China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a revolution in the field of finance. Under CPEC, China would invest $46 billion in Pakistan for the development of transportation and energy sector. If CPEC is utilised properly, it will flourish the economy of Pakistan by three to four times.”

Incharge of the Department of Geography, SALU, Noor Hussain Chandio welcomed the audience and highlighted the significance of geography of Pakistan. He said, “Geography is a permanent feature. CPEC is also part of geography.” Chandio remarked that Pakistan was a junction for the world economy. He appreciated the efforts of SALU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Parveen Shah for the promotion of academic and research culture at the campus.