National Assembly Standing Committee To Inspect CPEC Progress

Islamabad: The Members of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning and Development would Gwadar in this month to physically inspect the progress and implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

They will review the progress of work on various projects in CPEC and the Public Sector Development Programme, and the committee members will get a briefing from the federal and provincial authorities on the establishment of a university in Gwadar.

The itinerary and agenda issued by the National Assembly Secretariat shows that the members plan to visit the port city of Balochistan. The members of the committee, headed by Abdul Majeed Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, would also receive a presentation on “role, function and funding of University of Turbat and establishment of its campus in Gwadar”.

Gwadar is the centre of CPEC and more than $1bn worth of projects are being developed around the port by December 2017.

On the other hand nationalist parties, particularly those belonging to Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, have been expressing their reservations over the corridor projects as they fear that the two provinces may not get as much benefits as promised. These parties accuse the PML-N government of changing the original CPEC plan by altering the route from Gwadar to China in order to provide more benefit to central Punjab.

The government has faced great difficulties in removing these concerns of these parties despite the fact that the CPEC is under strict parliamentary scrutiny and at least four committees of the National Assembly and the Senate are simultaneously overlooking it.

Committees of planning and development of the two houses, a special committee of the Senate under Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Taj Haider and a special parliamentary committee under Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed are also overlooking the implementation of CPEC projects.

The committee lead by Mr Hussain has been formed by the National Assembly speaker under a decision of the multi-party conference held in Islamabad in May last year to build consensus on the CPEC.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif while addressing the participants of the conference said that the corridor’s western route would be constructed first for which funds would be released soon. He assured the political leaders that all matters relating to the CPEC project would be kept transparent and their reservations would be addressed.

The criticism of CPEC was discussed in the Senate last week when lawmakers belonging to the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party alleged that there had been no progress on CPEC in the province.

During the debate on the terrorist attack on Quetta’s Civil Hospital, senators criticized the prime minister and Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif for their statements about the Quetta incident saying it was an attack on CPEC. The senators from Balochistan argued that CPEC did not exist in the province at all.

The government however claims that CPEC would pass through the entire country and all provinces will benefit from it especially the backward areas of Balochistan and KP.

The Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal stated on that CPEC is crucial for the country’s economic stability and security and hence it shouldn’t be made controversial.