Islamabad’s Senate Special Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects was informed on Friday that Beijing had not funded any infrastructure project under the flagship mega initiative since 2017.
According to a report by The Express Tribune, during the committee meeting Senator Sikandar Mandhro, chief of transport planning at the Pakistan Planning Ministry, said because of the absence of the CPEC funding, some projects, including the Khuzdar-Basima project, were being carried out from the federal development funds.
‘…it may be delayed but ultimately, everything will be fine’
Meanwhile, Committee member Senator Kabir Ahmad Shahi informed that only paperwork was carried out on CPEC. “I have been saying this for the last four years that we are taking electricity from Iran and a 300MW project should be started,” he added. “The project started in a way that a tent was set up with a watchman sitting there. The fence around the New Gwadar International Airport is a shambles,” he said.
However, the senator stressed that there was no need for disappointment with the mega project. “CPEC is our future, it may be delayed but ultimately, everything will be fine,” he said, according to the report. Moreover, the projects under the Gwadar Smart Port City Master plan have not been started.
He opposed the installation of barbed wires in Gwadar. Senator Shahi said barbed wires in Gwadar was a violation of human rights. “Who is erecting fences at different places in Gwadar?” Shahi asked. The planning ministry officials replied that the fence was being erected by the Defence Ministry. On this, the committee sought clarification on the fencing issue.
The planning ministry officials told the meeting that the Khushab-Gwadar Motorway had been completed at a cost of Rs 38 billion. Senator Shahi said that work on the project was started in 2002, therefore, the project should not be counted among the CPEC projects.
“Everywhere it is stated that M8 is completed. This is not a CPEC project. (Ex-President Pervez) Musharraf had started it,” he said. “The road has broken down without even a single-vehicle plying on it. What will happen if heavy traffic plied on it under CPEC?” he asked. “The road could not endure the load of CPEC (traffic). Don’t include this project in CPEC.”
Senator Kakar said that the word motorway should not be used for this road. “This is a small road. In fact,” he added, “there was not a single kilometre of motorway in entire Balochistan.” During the meeting, the committee expressed displeasure over the absence of the National Highway Authority (NHA) chairman.
In 2015, China announced an economic project in Pakistan worth USD 46 billion. According to media reports, China has temporarily stopped funding several road projects under CPEC, following reports of corruption. A puppet of the army establishment, the Imran Khan-led PTI government has refused to investigate the corruption charges in the CPEC projects, which ironically was included by Imran Khan in his party’s election manifesto.
With the CPEC, Beijing aims to expand its influence in Pakistan and across Central and South Asia in order to counter the influence of the United States and India. The CPEC would link Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port (626 kilometres, 389 miles west of Karachi) in Balochistan on the Arabian Sea to China’s western Xinjiang region. It also includes plans to create road, rail and oil pipeline links to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East.
(With ANI inputs)