Islamabad, 20 January 2017. The federal government has requested Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to address reservations of various political parties over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at an all-party conference (APC) and remove ‘misunderstandings’ about the mega project.
This was decided on Thursday at an inter-provincial meeting on the CPEC held to follow up on the corridor’s joint coordination council (JCC) meeting held in Beijing a few weeks ago.
The APC was proposed by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister who explained that although his government was on board the project, several other political parties in his province had reservations over it.
Speaking at a news conference with KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haidar Khan and Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said the prime minister would convene an all-party conference to address reservations by some political parties in KP.
Mr Khattak said most of the province’s reservations had been addressed. However, some parties had political reservations and the government should satisfy them, he added.
Federal minister insists corridor will have a positive impact on South Asia, believes China has rebuffed India’s objections to the project
Mr Iqbal insisted that the CPEC would have a positive impact on South Asia. “India is suffering from CPEC phobia…this would surely lead to its isolation in this region,” he said, adding that China had rebuffed India’s objections to the project.
“How will India stay away from a project everybody wants to be a part of?” The minister said that several countries, including the United Kingdom, had expressed thier inclination to join the CPEC and advised India to be a part of it too.
Mr Iqbal said that several Indian think tanks had been pressuring their government to benefit from the project.
All provinces expressed full support for the CPEC and agreed to complete their homework on projects approved by the sixth JCC to ensure its speedy and timely implementation. The Pakistani side of the joint working groups would meet soon to finalise new projects in energy, infrastructure and other sectors, he said.
He praised the provincial governments, KP in particular, for expediting work on the CPEC. He said the participants of the meeting had agreed that along with projects in the infrastructure and energy sector, a procedure of industrialisation would be finalised to ensure maximum benefits from the CPEC.
Mr Iqbal said certain elements were trying to spread misconceptions about the project and were hatching conspiracies to derail the harmony between Pakistan and China. “All reservations by federating units have been addressed and everyone is now working for success of this project,” he added.
In reply to a question, he said it was illogical to assume that a large number of expensive Chinese workers would come to Pakistan and fill up the job market. He said Pakistani labourers and engineers would get more than half of the jobs under the CPEC. Thousands of Pakistani engineers and workers already had jobs in various CPEC projects, he added.
The KP chief minister said his government would organise a road show in March in China to attract investment in agriculture, mining and tourism sectors.