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October 14, 2015

Govt, opposition trust deficit over CPEC still exists


October 14, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The trust deficit between the government and the opposition over the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) still exists, as the latter doesn’t buy Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal’s arguments that the project would go according to the consensus evolved at the All Pakistan Parties Conference (APC) on May 28.
Ahsan categorically rubbished the opposition’s reservations but both failed to convince each other.
The opposition stuck to its stand that the Western Route was not the government’s priority but the Eastern Route that benefited the Punjab and also boycotted the proceedings on the issue. Unfortunately, the government and the opposition were not on the same page over this game changing project and raising objections every day might affect it.
If the opposition was not convinced by the minister’s assurance on the floor of the floor of the House then what kind of assurance could satisfy them?Though there was consensus between the both that PCEC was a game changer project for Pakistan’s economy, differences were over its implementation. They should set aside all political differences and evolve a consensus on the national cause instead of political point scoring.
Taj Haider is a respected political worker but his assertion that the CPEC was the Punjab Economic Corridor could not be appreciated. What kind of message we want to convey to the international community, especially China?
Senators from Balochistan Usman Kakar, Azam Khan Mosakhel and Dr Jehan Zeb Jamal Deeni said Balochistan was being ignored. Similar views were expressed by Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Sindh including Farhatullah Babar, Ata-ur-Rahman, Baz Mohammad Khan, Sassi Palejo, Sitara Ayaz and Mohsin Aziz.
This project is not rocket science and the government should do another effort to remove the grievances of small provinces.
Azam Khan Mosakhel pointed out that Rs150 billion was allocated for the Western Route but the Eastern Route had an allocation of Rs150

billion and urged that power projects be also initiated on the Western route.
Ahsan Iqbal clarified that CPEC was a package deal and it was the prerogative of Chinese private companies investing in energy and other projects to choose suitable project sites and the government could not interfere in this regard.
Sassi Palejo’s concern was that some CPEC projects would be completed till 2030.Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf’s Mohsin Aziz compared the project with Kalabagh Dam and said they would not allow the project to start if the Western Route was ignored.
Senator Ata-ur-Rehman demanded the chair to constitute a committee of the upper house on the issue. The chair informed him that a committee was already working on the issue.
“Despite assurance on the floor of the House, the opposition was not clear and demanded that the government should arrange a special briefing for the senators in their native languages to address their reservations about the project so that all ambiguities could be removed,” commented a baboo after the session.
Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousuf could not satisfy the House on the Mina tragedy. He disclosed that out of 99 martyred Hajis 70 were buried and 29 bodies were still waiting for identification while 18 were missing. The minister was so confused that he also annoyed the chair.
The opposition staged a walkout over his statement. Sardar Yousuf could not satisfy the House about the 18 missing Hajis. The chair intervened and asked if the missing Hajis should be forgotten.
He claimed that the Saudi government had not allowed any country to interfere in the Haj process. The chair observed that when India and Iran could get their dead and injured Hajis back then Pakistan should also be dealt with evenhandedly.
Senator from Balochistan Muhammad Khan Musakhel was concerned about delay in the announcement of National Finance Commission Award (NFC). He said delay in announcing the Award would cause great loss to the smaller provinces.
Responding to his concerns, Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar assured the House that the commission was incomplete due to absence of the Punjab and Sindh members. Dar said he would not disappoint the nation on the issue but did not give any clear date for the completion of commission.

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