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January 25, 2016

Sindh’s civil society bodies raise objections over CPEC


January 25, 2016


After Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, the civil society organisations of Sindh too have raised objections over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Former federal secretary and analyst Fazalullah Qureshi, in a discussion held on Sunday, said the CPEC was a political gimmick and the project was being used by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz  to strengthen their grip in their constituencies in central Punjab.  

“The benefits for Sindh from the CPEC lies with construction of Keti Bandar port in Thatta district but unfortunately the province and the federal government have not even begun the feasibility study of the port,” said Qureshi.

“The Keti Bandar port on Sindh’s coast can serve as commercial port whereas Gwadar will remain a strategic one, where China can establish a naval base too.”

Speaking on the CPEC-related projects in Sindh, Qureshi said many facts were distorted as the ongoing projects of Thar coal were included in the package and it made no sense as the Sindh government and its partners were already working on it.

He said the Sindh government should demand the construction of new route starting from Arore (near Rohri-Sukkur) going through Mirpurkhas up to Keti Bandar in Thatta.

He said the CPEC investment would have an independent power projects model - Chinese companies would be given sovereign guarantees on higher profit rates.

If implemented Central and Eastern route will cut down travel duration to 48 from Gwadar to China border, whereas current route that China is using takes it 45 days.

 Dispelling the impression that industrial parks will be developed under the CPEC, Qureshi said provincial governments would invest in these industrial zones and it is entirely up to the investors to come or not, and such investments were conditioned with infrastructural developments including security.

He said of $46 billion, $35 were allocated for energy projects, most of them on coal power projects which would have serious climate change implications.

 On Bhasha Dam, Qureshi said the government was not proactive and serious as construction of this dam would erode need for the Kalabagh Dam which the Punjab-centric political government had not given up in its plans.

He said the PPP government had spent Rs200 billion on land acquisition and the current government had allocated Rs80 billion but still there was a long way to goo till the completion of the dam.

Citing the federal PSDP of current fiscal year, Qureshi said government had already started work on the eastern route of the CPEC.

“On the much debated western route of CPEC that is up to China whether to make use of that route or not, the Pakistani government in order to calm down anger in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could start working on that route too,” he noted.

He said some of the projects mentioned in CPEC were being initiated by Pakistan which including Gwadar international port costing Rs3 billion and another Rs6.8 billion was allocated for Balochistan.

However, projects worth Rs80 billion under the NHA were in Punjab. He said let us not forget that Multan-Sukkur road was constructed with Chinese loan.

The discussion was jointly organised by the Strengthening Participatory Organisation and the Sindh Economic Forum.

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