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February 7, 2015
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KP Assembly threatens to resist any change in route

Peshawar

February 7, 2015

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PESHAWAR: All political parties in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly vehemently opposed any changes to the route of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor and threatened resistance if the federal government chose the eastern route instead of the western one.
The Awami National Party (ANP) warned any change in the route could jeopardise the integrity of Pakistan for which the present rulers would be held responsible.A joint resolution passed unanimously by the assembly called upon the federal government to initiate work on the western route of the corridor without making any changes to it. “The economic corridor route is planned to connect Gwadar with China’s Kashgar through Karakorum Highway, Abbottabad, Dera Ismail Khan, Mianwali and Zhob,” the resolution read out by the parliamentary leaders said. “This project will have positive effects on the economy of KP, Fata and underdeveloped areas of Balochistan and Punjab,” it said. Aligning the economic corridor, it noted, through another route via Punjab would be great injustice with the people of the less developed KP, Fata and Balochistan.
“The Pakistan-China Economic Corridor has immense significance for the economic progress of the country, particularly the Pakhtun belt,” said ANP’s Sardar Hussain Babak who delivered an impassioned speech to warn the Pakistan Muslim League-N-led federal government against what he described continued discrimination against the Pakhtuns.
“If the federal government did not change its mind about changing the route of the economic corridor, we will resist it tooth and nail,” he threatened. “If the route is changed, we are all set to go for a protest campaign,” warned Qaumi Watan Party’s Sikandar Sherpao. “We are ready to go to any extent on this issue,” he warned. He said the air, land and rail routes were already concentrated in Punjab and changes in the route of the economic corridor would increase the sense of deprivation and alienation among the

Pakhtuns.
He said the economic corridor was a $45 billion Pakistan-China bilateral agreement that included the construction of highways, railroads, and laying of gas and oil pipelines. He said the corridor would create hundreds of thousands of jobs and would earn Pakistan an annual $100 million. He argued that the western route was the shortest and feasible and hoped it would boost economic activity in KP. “It will help us in properly tapping the oil and gas reservoirs in our southern districts,” he said.
The joint resolution also noted the importance of the route for the region’s development. “This project is important for the economic development of this region which has remained underdeveloped due to terrorism,” the resolution said.
Sardar Hussain Babak said the western route was 653 kilometres shorter than the eastern route. He alleged that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was furthering the interests of Punjab and was interested in the development of his native province only. “If the prime minister considers he only represents Punjab and that he has nothing to do with the rest of the country, he should come up with a clear statement,” Babak said.
Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is ruling KP, did not take up the issue of change in the route of the economic corridor. However, it supported the stance of the opposition parties regarding the change of the route. “We agree with whatever Sardar Babak said,” announced the Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman. “The government and the opposition are in agreement on this issue.”

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