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September 12, 2020

MPAs accuse govt of dropping Chakdara-Chitral Motorway project

Peshawar

September 12, 2020

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday could not complete the debate on the Chakdara-Chitral Motorway under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the speaker had to adjourn the session for lack of quorum.

Initiating the debate Inayatullah Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) said Chakdara-Chitral China-Pakistan Economic Corridor route had been approved by the last Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government and was reflected in the Public Sector Development Programme but now nobody was accepting it. He said the people of five districts of Malakand would not accept any other project except CPEC route which is alternative to the Karakoram Highway (KKH) and shortest routes to the Central Asian States as well.

Ahmad Kundi of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said the provincial set- up was making a compromise on vital projects for saving their own offices.

He said Chakdara-Chitral route was not only the alternative to the KKH, but also part of the vital ‘One belt one road’ $5 trillion project which would connect 70 countries. It would link Pakistan with Afghanistan and Central Asia via Wakhan corridor, thus creating trade opportunities, he explained. The Pakistan People’s Party leader said the government should prioritize its planning of vital projects and concentrate on this 600-kilometre route which is going up to Gwadar and would create business and trade opportunities on the western part of the country.

Sahibzada Sanaullah and Badshah Saleh of the PPP, Waqar Khan and Salahuddin of the ANP also called for implementing the project and said it was vital to the national interest. Waqar Khan said the original China-Pakistan Economic Corridor route should be built that would equally benefit all divisions of the province. The opposition members accused the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government of dropping the project from the PSDP and claimed it was reflected in the 2016-7 and 2017-18 PSDPs. However, the ruling PTI members, including special assistant to the chief minister, Shafiullah Khan, Muhammad Azam Khan and Wazir Zada rejected the opposition stance and claimed the previous government had dropped the project.

Though they said it was reflected as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor route but funds were not approved for it.

They claimed the incumbent set-up had revived the project and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had approved the extension of Swat Expressway to Dir like Swat and ordered preparing a feasibility report for the project within three months.

Azam Khan in his maiden speech on the floor of the House during the last two years of the incumbent assembly claimed during a meeting of the parliamentarians from Dir with the Federal Communication Minister Murad Saeed had shown them documents of the revival of the project to be included in the next PSDP.

But at the same time, he said, the chief minister had assured Expressway work on which would be launched soon, saying the first phase of the expressway would be built from Chakdarra to Khaal.

The debate was going when Nighat Orakzai, who along with other opposition female MPAs were protesting and staged a walkout against the deputy speaker for not allowing them to speak on gang-rape of a woman in Lahore, pointed out the quorum leading to adjournment of the session till Monday 2pm.