NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM DECEMBER 28TH TO JANUARY 3RD2015
CPEC-INSPIRED ECONOMIC ZONES
Dawn, Business & Finance weekly, December 28th, 2015
MUBARAK ZEB KHAN
ITS eyes fixed on the bonanza that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor promises to bring, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has formed a company to develop special economic zones and has identified sites for four zones to attract industrial investment.
On December 15, the first of these zones was opened at Hattar, with hopes that it will lead to Rs300bn of investment inflows over the next five years.
But Hattar has already been an industrial area for decades and is located next to the vast Taxila industrial complex. And so are Nowshera and D.I. Khan, where two other special economic zones (SEZs) have been proposed. Only Karak will be a new industrial estate, inspired by Punjab’s Sundar industrial estate.
Meanwhile, factories have been closing down in KP’s old industrial estates owing to a lack of sustained and adequate supply of electricity and gas and an enabling environment.
Currently, there are 17 industrial estates in KP, including seven medium- and large-sized ones. All of these are managed by the Sarhad Development Authority (SDA). The remaining 10 are small-sized estates.
No funds were allocated to upgrade or revive the dilapidated infrastructure in the existing estates during the nearly past three years of the PTI-led provincial government. And successive provincial governments failed to convince the federal government to provide competitive tax incentives to attract investment in these zones.
Consequently, 415 units out of 646 industrial units in the four industrial estates of Hayatabad (Peshawar), Gadoon Amazai, Hattar and Nowshewra have shut down. Over 20,000 workers were retrenched. Meanwhile, the rest of the 231 units are struggling in an unfavourable business environment.
And 449 out of 247 units in the nine other industrial estates in the province have also closed down, retrenching more than 5,000 workers.
But no corrective measures have been taken to stop more industrial units in these estates from going under. A major issue is the overlapping of the responsibility of various departments in attracting and facilitating investments in the province.
Meanwhile, apart from ensuring stable supply of utilities, the provincial government will also have to engage the federal government to ensure customs duty exemption on the import of capital goods, machinery and equipment for the setting up of industry in the province, as well as income-tax exemption for a certain period.
The CEO of the KP government’s Economic Zone Development and Management Company (EZDMC), Mohsin M. Syed, is optimistic that the four identified sites will be able to attract investment. He says one-window services, including water, gas and electricity connections as well as proper security, will be offered to investors.
So far, the KP government appears to have not given much thought about exporting fruits and vegetables to China under CPEC. China has a ready market for farm produce and dairy products. Swat, Dir and Chitral are famous for their fruits and vegetables, but lack cold storage and packaging facilities.Problematic hydroelectricity import
Mohsin says EZDMC plans to set up dedicated SEZs in Swat and Malakand divisions to promote small industries. One such zone will be established near the Dargai hydropower station so that cheaper electricity could be provided to investors.
As per details, the Hattar Phase 7 SEZ will be developed over 424 acres of land and target sectors like food, pharmaceuticals and engineering. Mohsin says 30 factories will become operational by the end of 2016, while the auctioning of plots will commence from March.
The company estimates that the SEZ will generate 30,000 jobs. The zone will require 100MW of electricity and also need a vocation centre to train 5,000 youngsters. The cost of the project is Rs2.138bn and it is expected to be fully completed by 2017.
The second SEZ will be developed over 1,000 acres along the M-1 Motorway in Nowshera near Rashakai. It aims to attract foreign investment in auto, fruit/food packaging (for export purposes) and textile value-addition (stitching/knitting) sectors. The company estimates an investment of Rs1000bn in the zone. It will provide employment to 50,000 people. The zone will need 225MW of power and vocational training centres to train 10,000 youths.
The Nowshera expansion/Jalazai Marble and Mineral Economic Zone will cover 287 acres of land and is expected to house marble-cutting and polishing industry, as well as mosaic furniture and construction material vendors.
The SEZ at Dera Ismail Khan will be established over an area of 200 acres. It will house date-packaging and processing facilities. The expected investment in the zone is Rs30bn and it will create 20,000 jobs. Other areas for investment in the area include herbal medicines (turmeric/aloe vera) and agricultural implements. The zone will require vocational training centres to train 1,000 youngsters.
Meanwhile, an oil refinery with a capacity of 100,000 barrels per day will be established at the SEZ in Karak at a prospective investment of $5bn. It is expected to create 5,000 jobs. A 1,000MW gas-based power plant will also be established at Karak with an investment of $10bn over the medium-term.
The KP government plans to establish a carpet-weaving industry near Peshawar at an investment of Rs100bn, which will create jobs for over 2,000 technical and non-technical positions.
It is also planning trucking, logistics and cold storage parks for CPEC projects at Sust, Mansehra, Havalian, Peshawar, Bannu and D.G. Khan. Each park is estimated to be over 100 acres of land and cater to 500-1,000 trucks travelling along the CPEC route through KP.
PM TO INAUGURATE CPEC’S WESTERN ROUTE IN ZHOB
Dawn, December 30th, 2015
QUETTA: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is likely to visit Zhob on Wednesday to inaugurate western route of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Official sources said here on Tuesday that arrangements had been finalised for the visit of the premier.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be visiting Zhob to inaugurate western route of CPEC,” they said, adding that he would also address a gathering of tribal elders and citizens there.
The political leaders who were expressing their reservations over the CPEC, including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, ANP central leader Main Iftikhar Hussain, Chairman Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party Mehmood Khan Achakzai and others would also be attending the ceremony.
Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri had disclosed last week that the prime minister would visit Zhob and inaugurate western route of CPEC that would remove the apprehension and doubts over $46 billion mega project.
“The government has planned to establish two major industrial zones along CPEC in areas including Zhob and Khuzdar while several other small industrial zones along CPEC would also be established in the province,” Nawab Zehri said, adding that the government was going to acquire 10,000 acres of land in Zhob for the industrial zone.
He said that the CPEC would help in providing jobs to millions of youths in Balochistan besides boosting local economy.
ZEHRI SEEKS END TO CPEC ROW
Dawn, December 31st, 2015
QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri has said that the controversy over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor should be stopped after the start of work on its western route.
Speaking at a ceremony held to lay down the foundation stone of the project in Zhob, he said it was a positive step towards boosting the country’s economy.
Nawab Zehri said that the project would help in providing jobs to millions of youths of Balochistan and boost local economy.
President of the National Party Hasil Khan Bizenjo said that had development projects been completed in time in the past, there would have been complete peace in the areas facing insurgency-like situation. He said unemployment and lack of development were main causes of extremism and terrorism.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the $46 billion CPEC project would resolve the basic issues and problems being faced by the people of the province. He said it would also help in paving the way for durable peace in the region. “Peace in Afghanistan was crucial for Pakistan.” He said a peaceful Afghanistan would provide access to Central Asia.
PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai called for smooth and transparent working relations with neighbouring countries to make the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India pipeline project a success.
TRANSPARENCY IN $46 BILLION CPEC ASSURED
ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister stated that the government was committed to transparency and claimed that it will not try to influence the outcome of the ongoing audit inquiry of Rs480 billion circular debt payments.
Speaking at a seminar titled ‘Transparency in Public Sector: An Appraisal,’ organised by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, he said that complete functional independence has been granted to Auditor General of Pakistan.
The minister also clarified criticism in media that after assuming charge in 2013 the government cleared Rs480 billion circular debt of power sector defying rules and regulation.
“You will agree that we did not discourage the former Auditor General who spent two years trying to prove that the payment was mala fide,” he said and added, “After his exit, some sections of the media tried to give the impression that the government would pressure the new Auditor General to suppress the audit of circular debt payment.”
He added, “But nothing of this kind has been done.”
He announced to ensure transparency in execution of $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He disputed the perception and asserted that CPEC would not increase the country’s debt burden.
“The debt burden will not go up as the major chunk of the investment will be made by the private sector,” the minister added.
At the same time, the minister acknowledged that Pakistan’s public debt increased to Rs3.80 trillion during PML-N rule which included Rs410bn foreign debt and Rs3.40tr domestic debt.
He added that public debt increased mainly because of fiscal deficit. He, however, claimed that from 8.8 per cent of GDP in 2013-14 the government intends to bring it down to 4.3pc of GDP by the end of the current fiscal year.
If the budget deficit would not have been cut down by half, the public debt might have touched Rs26tr by now,” he maintained.
He said that it was the policy of adhering to a policy of transparency that the government was able to meet international commitments.
“Regular and timely payments to IMF have improved the country’s image and improved our international credit rating.”
Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves had depleted when the government assumed power but they crossed $21bn mark this month.
Currently, he said, tax and energy reforms as well as strategic private sector participation are high on the government’s agenda.
In the domain of taxation, the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AML) will soon be amended to provide for tools for combating tax crimes.
He added that the public functionaries have to observe the procedure laid down in the PPRA Rules for every procurement, whatever its volume.
Now details of all procurements are available online.
Earlier, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervez Rashid, Arshad Mirza and Secretary Ministry of Pakistan Railways Perveez Qadir Agha and Younas Dagha also spoke.
Responding to a question on sharing benefits of windfall gain on account of reduced oil prices, he said that the arrears recovery increased by 4pc which had nothing to do with decreased oil prices.
He declined to respond to question on changing board of directors of all distribution companies (DISCOs).
He said that the affordable electricity would be ensured as Neelum-Jheleum hydropower. Tarbela-4 and other projects are in the pipeline which would help overcome around 8000MW deficit till 2017-18.
Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2015
MIAN IFTIKHAR URGES GOVT TO IMPLEMENT
The News, December 31st, 2015
PESHAWAR: Awami National Party (ANP) Secretary General of Mian Iftikhar Hussain has said that the eradication of poverty and terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan is linked to the success of China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor (CPEC).
Talking to The News after his address to the inauguration ceremony of the Western route of the economic corridor in Zhob, the ANP leader urged the government to implement the unanimous decisions of the All Parties Conference about the project in letter and spirit.
He said the areas which have been neglected in the past and have suffered due to terrorism for the last many years should be provided the opportunity to take more benefits from the corridor. The ANP leader said that the government should fully implements the promises it had made with the people and the assurances given to ANP chief Asfandyar Wali Khan by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a meeting.
He said that the Western route of the economic corridor would help develop the areas and ignoring this route would be tantamount to the economic murder of the Pakhtuns. Mian Iftikhar said the government should focus its attention on eradication of poverty and backwardness in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan so terrorism could be eliminated and the affected areas brought on a par with the developed ones.
The ANP leader was of the opinion that the people of Balochistan had the right to Gawadar Port and their right should be accepted.He said that the region was facing the worst dangers of terrorism. The recent suicide bombing in Mardan was a proof of the fact that the terrorists have not been eradicated and they are busy in reorganising their ranks. “Therefore, the National Action Plan should be fully implemented to ensure complete eradication of the terrorists.”
Mian Iftikhar also stressed the need for better ties with Afghanistan and India. He said that the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Afghanistan and Pakistan carried immense importance which would have positive impacts n the region.
MULTIBILLION-DOLLAR PROJECT: NAWAZ INAUGURATES CPEC’S WESTERN ROUTE
The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2015.
ZHOB: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated the western corridor of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as he broke ground on upgradation of two vital arteries, Zhob-Mughal Kot (N-50) and Qila Saifullah-Wagum (N-70).
The projects are part of the western alignment of the CPEC, which is a network of roads and rail links that will connect China’s impoverished Xinjiang region to the Arabian Sea via Gwadar deep seaport in Balochistan. The 81-kilometre long Zhob-Mughal Kot road and the 126-kilometre long Qila Saifullah-Wagum road will be completed in 2018 at respective costs of Rs8.80 billion and Rs7.50 billion.
Addressing a huge gathering after performing the ground-breaking, the prime minister said Rs150 billion to Rs200billion would be spent in the next three to four years in Balochistan for alleviating its backwardness. “There is no precedent in the history of Balochistan that construction work on a massive roads network is initiated on such a fast track,” he said.
He added that the uplift of the province was a top priority of his government as it would benefit the entire country.
“The project will open up trade and business opportunities for the whole region and help in alleviating backwardness of the province. Soon, there will be the dawn of prosperity of which Balochistan fast track,” he said. He added that the uplift of the province was a top priority of his government as it would benefit the entire country.
“The project will open up trade and business opportunities for the whole region and help in alleviating backwardness of the province. Soon, there will be the dawn of prosperity of which Balochistan will be the major source of fast-track progress,” he said.
Premier Nawaz said the upgrading of these roads would be completed within the next two years besides completion of a 2,428km roads network, linking other provinces with Balochistan.
Enumerating the CEPC projects in the province, he said the 194km Gwadar-Khushab road would be inaugurated next month whereas 454km Khushab-Panjgur-Basima road and 243km Khuzdar-Wanguhil-Shahdad Kot road would also be completed by next year. “All these projects are funded by the government of Pakistan out of its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP),” he added.
The prime minister praised the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) director general, Maj Gen Muhammad Afzal, and the National Highway Authority (NHA) chairman, Shahid Ashraf Tarrar, for their hard work and commitment.
He also referred to Kalat-Quetta-Chaman and Kharan Phase-1 roads which would be completed next year, adding that feasibility of Zhob-Jandola road was being done.
He expressed the hope that all political parties would collectively work for national prosperity and against terrorism and play their due part for the durable peace and prosperity.
Earlier, upon his arrival at the Zhob airport, the prime minister was accorded a warm welcome by Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai and Chief Minister Sanaullah Khan Zehri. The provincial chief secretary, inspector general of police and other senior officials were also present on the occasion.
Premier Nawaz was accompanied by senior political leaders, including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, National Party President Mir Hasil Khan Bezinjo, ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain, PML-Q leader Mushahid Hussain Sayed and National Security Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Nasser Janjua.
Earlier, the provincial leaders of the ruling PML-N issued a statement, welcoming the prime minister. They said the prime minister had fulfilled his promise of launching great development projects for Balochistan. “The CPEC will bring progress and prosperity in the region,” the statement said.
KHATTAK THREATENS ‘EXTREME STEP’ OVER CPEC PROJECT
Dawn, January 1st, 2016
PESHAWAR: The political fraternity of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has warned the federal government through Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed against any ‘deception’ on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
“I warn if the federal government does not address the reservations of KP about the (CPEC) project, then we will take an extreme step. And you (centre) will see what we are going to do,” Chief Minister Pervez Khattak told a news conference with Mr Mushahid after attending the briefing of the parliamentary party leaders here on Thursday.
“The KP demand is very simple: implement the decisions of the ‘All-Party Conference’ held in Islamabad on May 28 and build complete corridor. We don’t need a highway,” said Mr Khattak flanked by parliamentary leaders in the KP Assembly.
The chief minister said if the federal government wanted to build a highway only, then the province had sufficient resources to do so on its own.
Mr Mushahid, who heads a parliamentary committee overseeing the CPEC project, agreed with Mr Khattak, saying the reservations of KP are genuine and the route will be completed in line with the joint declaration of the ‘APC’.
The project containing fiber optic, railway line, gas and oil pipeline, LNG, electricity and several economic zones will connect Gwadar Port to Kashgar in the north-western China.
Parliamentary leaders of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, Jamaat-i-Islami, Awami National Party, Qaumi Watan Party and Pakistan People’s Party, Speaker of the provincial assembly Asad Qaisar and ministers attended the briefing.
The chief minister said the provincial assembly had unanimously passed two resolutions demanding of the federal government to build the corridor in accordance with the ‘APC’ decisions.
He said it was decided in the APC meeting that the CPEC western route would be completed in the first phase to be followed by the construction of the eastern route.
“Later, we learnt that the western route has been restricted only to a road, which is unacceptable for us,” he said warning that KP would take an ‘extreme step’ if the centre ignored the ‘APC’ decisions.
He said the project’s additional components including fiber optic, railway track, gas and oil pipeline, LNG and other facilities had been attached with the eastern route of the corridor to be laid between Gwadar and Rawalpindi.
Mr Khattak said there was nothing in the project for KP except the highway.
He said the people of Hazara should also not live in a fool’s paradise as they were not getting much more from the project as the route would be passed through Hazara division.
The CM said the federal government should give priority and incentives to underdeveloped areas like KP and Balochistan in the project instead of shifting all benefits to Punjab, which was already developed.
He complained the centre had also stopped issuing the No Objection Certificate to foreign investors under the pretext of security situation.
Mr Khattak said investors were willing to put their money in KP but the federal government did not issue them NOCs.
“If the centre considers KP to be insecure for investment, then it should not start work on the corridor,” he said.
On the occasion, Mr Mushahid declared the CPEC ‘fortune-changer’ for the country and said the project was a golden opportunity for Pakistan to progress.
He said the vital project did not belong to a single province, political party, government or institution.
The parliamentarian said he came to Peshawar to understand KP’s viewpoint about the project and would discuss it with the centre.
He said federal planning and development minister Ahsan Iqbal would brief parliamentary leaders from KP about the CPEC on Jan 6.
“The grievances of KP are genuine and that the decisions of APC should be implemented in letter and spirit,” he said.
Mr Mushahid said major grievances of Balochistan had been resolved and reservations too would be resolved amicably.
CPEC NOT TO RAISE DEBT, TO BE EXECUTED TRANSPARENTLY: DAR
The News, January 01, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar said that the government would ensure transparency in execution of $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and it would not cause hike in country’s debt.
“The debt burden will not go up because of CPEC because $34 billion out of $46 billion will be utilised through private sector for power sector projects. The remaining $12 billion will be utilized for Pakistan Railways to the tune of $5 billion and $3 billion for construction of Multan-Sukkar section of Lahore-Karachi Motorway,” Dar said in his address during a day-long seminar titled “Transparency in Public Sector: An Appraisal”, organised by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting here on Wednesday.
The minister said the economic sovereignty would make Pakistan a real nuclear power. He said that there was no funding problem for ongoing Zarb-e-Azb on which the estimated cost stood at $1.9 billion and despite reducing budget deficit the expenditures of military operation were fully protected.
The minister said that Pakistan’s public debt increased by Rs 3,800 billion during last two and half year rule of PML (N) led regime including Rs 410 billion as foreign debt and remaining Rs 3400 billion as domestic debt.
The public debt increased by Rs3800 billion mainly because of fiscal deficit which was slashed down from 8.8 percent of GDP in 2013-14 to now 4.3 percent of GDP aimed for current fiscal year, he added. “If the budget deficit would not have cut down by half then the public debt might have touched Rs 26000 billion now,” he maintained.
Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves had depleted when the government took over the reins of power in June 2013, he said and added that now the reserves went up to $21 billion in which increase in net debt witnessed upsurge by $4.1 billion.
“Pakistan received $4.765 billion from the IMF under the current program but paid back $4.5 billion so net inflow from the Fund is below $300 million,” he said and added that the foreign reserves were increased without burdening further loans.
He said that the government struck agreement with the IMF on the basis of home grown program which was based on the manifesto of PML-N for elections 2013 as it was obtained to seek health certificate from the IMF and for paying back the loans obtained during the PPP led regime.
The minister said that the Auditor General of Pakistan conducted audit on clearance of circular debt worth Rs 480 billion and Nandipur Power project to ensure transparency. “I believe that those who disintegrated the country faced unnatural death and their next generations also faced the same fate,” he said without mentioning anyone.
Transparency is no more a buzzword. It has become a norm of life and a basic requirement for democracy and good governance. A political government, committed to the principles of democracy, can never undermine the importance of transparency, he added.
The minister said that Pakistan’s ranking in the Transparency International Index, which was at 127 in 2013, slightly improved to 126 in 2014 and will further improve when the 2015 rankings are announced.
Currently, he said, tax and energy reforms as well as strategic private sector participation are high on the government’s priority list.
Within the domain of taxation, the development of a key transparency cementing mechanism system is in process. The Anti-Money Laundering Act (AML) will be amended soon to provide for tools for combating tax crimes. We are strengthening the integrity management unit by identifying potential processes within the FBR that could strengthen its anti-corruption structures, including in the Directorate General of Internal Audit.
The government, he said, recognizes the need for an independent and autonomous State Bank as well as other regulatory bodies. The amendments to the laws of various regulators are, therefore, aimed at ensuring greater transparency and autonomy. The need for monitoring and evaluation is wholeheartedly recognized and now all ministries and public sector organizations, especially independent regulatory bodies, are required to publish their reports on their websites so that these are available to the general public.
“The best news for our future economic development is the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. We are taking all necessary measures to make sure that this project remains transparent through and through.
“This project will not only stimulate our economy but will also, inshaAllah, be recorded in history as one of the most transparent projects ever undertaken. There will not be the slightest compromise on the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness at any stage of this project. We can never compromise on the transparency of such a huge project.
“It is due to our regard for transparency and control over corruption that we have been able to meet our international commitments. Regular and timely payments to IMF can proudly be quoted as the seriousness of our commitment,” he said.
Earlier, in the inaugural session, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervez Rashid said that transparency, undoubtedly is an essential ingredient of good governance whose importance can hardly be over-emphasised.
Undaunted by the permeating situation, he said that the PML (N) government under the stewardship of Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took these challenges head on with determination and dedication. It launched necessity-driven policy initiatives in line with the election manifesto of the party in all these areas. Promoting national unity and sanity in politics were the pre-requisites for the success of the foregoing undertakings.
Therefore through a visionary and well-deliberated move purported to strengthen democratic norms and promoting a tolerant political culture in the country, the PML-N showed a rare respect for the mandate of the other parties in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and allowed formation of governments by the majority parties, notwithstanding the fact that on the basis of its numerical strength it could have installed of PML-N-led governments there.
As a result of these measures and initiatives taken during the last two years the ambience of gloom has been transformed into vibrant optimism and a real, verifiable and discernible change is evident in all the spheres of the national life, he noted.
In the domain of foreign relations, the minister said a new narrative wedded to the cause of promoting peace in the region and creating economic linkage for a shared prosperity has been evolved. Pakistan has been making strenuous efforts in promoting Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation in Afghanistan and fostering cooperation between the two countries in fighting terrorism. And despite some hic-ups along the way there is a renewed hope of getting things back on track.
The enhancement of economic relations with China under the umbrella of China-Pak Economic Corridor is another testimonial of the success of the new vision. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also made positive overtures towards India by attending the swearing-in ceremony of Narendra Moodi and later working for the revival of the suspended dialogue between the two countries, he added.
As a result of these efforts hopes of re-starting the dialogue have been revived, he said. “Our endeavours to normalise relations with India stem from our firm belief and the vision of the Prime Minister that peace, security and progress in both the countries as well as in the region depended on resolution of all disputes between the two countries and the dialogue was the only feasible and preferred option,” he said.
Earlier, in the morning session, Federal Secretary for Water and Power Younas Dagha said that the power load shedding would be abolished by 2017-18.
When asked about windfall gain on account of reduced oil prices in international market that resulted into halting rising trend of circular debt, he said that the arrears recovery increased by 4 percent which had nothing to do with decreased oil prices. To another query regarding changing board of directors of all distribution companies (DISCOs) and undertaking other structural reforms, he said that he did not answer this question.
However, he said that the benefits of reduced oil prices were passed on for benefiting consumers. He said that the affordable electricity would be ensured as Neelum-Jheleum hydropower, Tarbela-4 and other projects are in the pipeline which will help in overcoming around 8000 MW deficit till 2017-18. Secretary Ministry of Petroleum, Arshad Mirza said that the gas outages would be overcome till 2017-18.
Secretary Ministry of Pakistan Railways (PR) Perveez Qadir Agha said that the PR was on path of recovery where it aimed at generating revenues by over Rs 32 billion during the current fiscal year.
On the issue of land of PR which are currently occupied by the provinces and other institutions, she said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan in its verdict declared this land in the possession of PR on which only KPK government implemented it while the PR was again moving into apex court to get direction from the judiciary.
KP RAISING FRIVOLOUS OBJECTIONS TO CPEC
The News, January 03, 2016
ISLAMABAD: Less than eight months after an All Parties Conference (APC) on the $46 billion China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC), a controversy is being inflamed once again over the historic game-changer, obviously for petty political gains and not for any love for mega development in any specific area.
KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak is attempting to whip up another row, making unreasonable and unacceptable demands that can’t be accepted or met.
Baloch leader Akhtar Mengal, who has been left with a little political say in Balochistan, is hosting an APC in the federal capital on January 10 on the CPEC. But he is the lone ranger as far as his own province is concerned because all its political forces are fully on board on the CPEC and are eager to see its realisation without any let or hindrance.
Their full agreement was witnessed when three days ago Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, accompanied by all the political players of Balochistan, inaugurated the western route of the CPEC near Zhob. The political leaders welcomed the start of work on the western route.
Besides, the Awami National Party (ANP), which had held an attacking view about the CPEC, was also part of these delegates. However, conspicuous with their absence from the ceremony were the representatives of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
The CPEC is not the name just motorways or highways, but it is comprehensive package containing many elements. It will be completed in phases. The first and foremost is the road connectivity that has to be ensured for fast transportation, and this is the top priority of China as well.
However, Pervez Khattak quickly wants fiber optic, railway line, gas and oil pipeline, LNG, electricity and economic zones in the KP in the first go, which is neither possible nor feasible, without the communication network. The logic of his remarks that “we don’t need a highway (only); build complete corridor; and there is nothing in the project for KP except the highway” are inane and inexplicable. The projects are to be completed in phases with the road connectivity taking precedence over all other stages because unless there is accessibility, other infrastructure will not be much productive and consequential.
As a result of the May APC, a multiparty parliamentary committee was created to review the projects under the CPEC. It will be prudent for the KP chief minister to ask his PTI to raise his ‘concerns’ in this very forum instead of issuing indiscreet and lousy statements to tee off needles discourse on a package that everyone agrees will change the fate of Pakistan.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan has also voiced reservations over the CPEC saying that the package was being made controversial as some political parties have not been taken into confidence.
Earlier, a campaign was built by the ANP and some other political forces that the original route of the CPEC has been changed to benefit Punjab to the disadvantage of smaller provinces. However, this was effectively dispelled during the APC when all and sundry were assured that not a single inch of the originally proposed route has been altered. Everyone was satisfied after the prime minister had given this explanation. The route under its original plan ran from Gwadar to Quetta, then up to Zhob before veering east towards Dera Ismail Khan. The physical work on the portion near Zhob has now been launched. The fuss being raised by the KP chief is not understandable.
“I warn if the federal government does not address the reservations of KP about the CPEC project, we will take an extreme step. And you will see what we are going to do,” Khattak has warned.
To take care of his objections, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal has spoken to him to remove his misconceptions. The federal government will take further steps to allay apprehensions of all kinds.
In another bid to assuage any reservations, Ahsan Iqbal would brief parliamentary leaders from KP on the CPEC on Jan 6. Not only the federal government but all the political parties except for a few rabble-rousers, desperate for political mileage, want the CPEC to move smoothly, realising its importance. Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif has also talked more than once about the monumental utility and advantages of the CPEC for Pakistan and announced that the package would be implemented and no hurdles would be allowed to impede it come what may
CPEC WON’T PASS THROUGH KP IF DUE SHARE DENIED: KHATTAK
Dawn, January 3rd, 2016
PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak on Saturday warned his government won’t allow the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to pass through the province if the centre denied the due share in its route to the latter.
Addressing the ‘Corridor Convention’ arranged by Pakhtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek (PUT) here, the chief minister said if KP didn’t benefit from the CPEC, then the federal government should divert its route away.
“If KP doesn’t gain from the (CPEC) project, then nobody will be able to get anything from the whole project,” he said.
Mr Khattak lambasted Punjab for ‘trampling on the rights of smaller provinces’ and said everything was being manipulated to benefit the country’s largest province.
He said the federal government was denying KP the due rights whether it was oil, gas, water or net hydel profit issue and thus, forcing the provincial government to go for agitation.
“They (centre) declare all those raising voice for the rights of the province traitors,” he said.
The chief minister said Punjab needed to change its attitude towards smaller provinces and that all political forces of the province were united on the CPEC issue.
He said the CPEC was not just a road and instead, it was a combination of many projects, including electricity, gas, LNG, fiber optics and industrial zones.
Mr Khattak said on May 28, the federal government had agreed to go for the western route of corridor as a first priority.
“Work on many of the road projects, which are part of the CPEC project, has begun but ironically, not a single brick has been laid on the Haripur-Dera Ismail Khan section falling in the limits of KP,” he said.
The chief minister said all political leaders should join hands and raise voice for the rights of the province otherwise they would get nothing from the whole project.
He said the western route of the CPEC was 500-600 kilometers shorter than the eastern one and that the area falling under its western leg was also backward and needed to be completed as the first priority.
Mr Khattak said in December last, he had written a letter to the federal government on several contentious issues and demanded copies of agreement signed with the Chinese, but the response was still awaited forcing the provincial government to raise the matter in public.
“We’re not being taken into confidence on this issue. We’ll take this issue to the Council of Common Interest, the provincial and national assemblies, and other available forums.
The chief minister said his government would stand for the rights of the province and that all political leaders and people should support it.
KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar, who was also in attendance, said parliamentarians would fulfil their responsibilities on the CPEC issue and that PTI chief Imran Khan had directed the provincial government to take up the issue with the federal government without delay.
He said KP’s industry, cities and social fabric was destroyed by the war on terrorism and therefore, they should be rehabilitated and the CPEC could play a crucial role for it.
KP senior minister and Qaumi Watan Party provincial president Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao told participants that the CPEC project couldn’t be completed without the participation of KP.
He said if political forces of the province didn’t join hands for rights, then the history won’t forgive them.
Mr Sikandar said Pakistan was not being run like a federation and that the development of all federating units was vital for the country’s progress.
“Pakistan does not look like a federation today as one province (Punjab) is dominating others,” he said.
Awami National Party provincial general secretary Sardar Hussain Babak said the CPEC was the game-changer for the province’s future and that it was an issue of life and death for the people of the province.
“We’ll not allow anyone to usurp the rights of the province in this crucial project,” he said.
Awami Workers Party leader Fanoos Gujjar, Jamaat Islami lawmaker Syed Gul and former KP Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Zahid Shinwari also spoke on the occasion.
PUT convener Dr Said Alam Mehsud briefed participants about the project, especially the federal government’s ‘somersaults’ on it.
He said the PUT would organise conventions of traders, industrialists, lawyers, writers and students to apprise them of the actual situation on the issue.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM DECEMBER 21st TO DECEMBER 27th 2015
RAILWAY TRACKS TO BE BUILT, UPGRADED AS PART OF CPEC PROJECT: REPORT
Dawn, December 21st, 2015
KARACHI: The government has planned to install and upgrade railway tracks under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Dawn.com reported on Sunday.
Under the plan, a railway line will be developed from Gwadar to Quetta and Jacobabad via Besima tehsil in Balochistan and a 560km track will be laid from Bostan to Kotla Jam on the main line-II via Zhob and Dera Ismail Khan and another 682km track will be laid from Havelian to Khunjerab, said the report quoting Radio Pakistan’s website.
The upgradation of 1,872km track from Karachi to Peshawar via Kotri, Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi (including Taxila-Havelian) — along with dualisation of the track from Shahdara to Peshawar — will also be carried out.
According to the report, 1,254 kilometres of railway track from Kotri to Attock City via Dadu, Larkana, Jacobabad, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bhakkar and Kundian will be upgraded.
The CPEC is a 3,000km-long network of roads, railway tracks and pipelines to transport oil and gas from Gwadar Port to Kashgar city in China’s Xinjiang region.
Proposed by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in May 2013, the CPEC will act as a bridge for the new Maritime Silk Route that envisages linking three billion people in Asia, Africa and Europe.
An agreement on the corridor was signed by the two countries in May this year during President Xi Jinping’s visit.
The CPEC will revive the ancient Silk Road with a focus on infrastructure, and constitutes the strategic framework of bilateral cooperation.
The project is based on China’s strategy to develop its western region and Pakistan’s focus on boosting its economy, including the infrastructure construction of Gwadar Port, together with some energy cooperation and investment programmes.
It involves construction of roads and railway tracks, including upgradation of the 1,300km Karakoram Highway, which connects China with Pakistan through the Karakoram mountains.
The CPEC will reduce China’s routes of oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East by thousands of kilometres, making Gwadar a potentially vital link in China’s supply chain.
SENATE QUESTION HOUR: RABBANI WANTS MINISTERS TO ANSWER CPEC QUESTIONS
The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2015.
ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday was accused of ‘running away’ from answering questions regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani directed Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal to attend the sessions in order to answer queries relating to the mega project.
The step was announced as PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar raised his deferred point-of-order question on why the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) was silent on projects included for the eastern route of the CPEC.
Babar asked whether the omission was intentional to present the false impression of prioritising the western route as per the decision of the May 28 All Parties Conference (APC).
Pointing out how the projects listed under the western routes in the PSDP were old projects approved by the Executive Committee of National Economic Council several years ago, he inquired how much money had been allocated for each of the road projects on the western and eastern routes and the money actually released until end of October 2015.
Referring to the difference in design parameters, Babar accused the government of creating a situation where the eastern corridor would automatically be preferred.
On this Rabbani observed that the planning minister was again absent from the upper house. He directed Iqbal to attend the session on January 30, 2016, to answer questions regarding the project. The Senate chairman also asked the minister for parliamentary affairs to convey this message to the prime minister as well.
In a written response to the question, the planning ministry stated that they had identified 15 potential sites to establish industrial zones along the CPEC western routes, however, these will be finalised by a joint working group on industrial cooperation with mutual consent.
Further, the planning ministry said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has constituted a committee to identify potential sites for establishing industrial zones along the western route.
Meanwhile, work on the Gwadar Free Zone has begun with 2,281 acres of land for the project already handed over to the port operator in November.
NEWS COVERAGE PERIOD FROM DECEMBER 14TH TO DECEMBER DECEMBER20TH, 2015
MENGAL APPRISES RABBANI ABOUT CONCERNS OVER CPEC
Dawn, December 14th, 2015
ISLAMABAD: A delegation of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) led by its president Sardar Akhtar Mengal called on Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani here on Sunday.
BNP-M Senator Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini, MNA Isa Noori and former MNA Abdul Rauf Mengal accompanied their party president.
Sources in the Senate Secretariat told Dawn that the political situation in the country, particularly in Balochistan, came under discussion during the meeting.
The BNP-M leaders informed Mr Rabbani about their grievances and concerns over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying that people of Balochistan should not be deprived of their right to benefit from the project.
They were of the view that since Gwadar port, which was an integral part of the project, belonged to Balochistan the people of the province should be given their due share in the CPEC projects.
Mr Rabbani, according to the sources, suggested to the BNP-M leadership to use parliament as their tools to highlight their grievances and seek their redressal.
Mr Mengal while talking to reporters after his meeting with PTI Chairman Imran Khan in Islamabad on Thursday had expressed the fear that the fate of the CPEC would not be different from that of the Kalabagh dam project if concerns of Baloch people remained unaddressed.
“Our concerns on the CPEC project are similar to those the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have on the Kalabagh dam,” he had said. Mr Mengal also said that he had planned a multi-party conference on the CPEC on Jan 10.
The BNP-M chief had regretted that the role of the establishment in Balochistan had not changed even after the present government came to power.
He had criticised security agencies’ actions in Balochistan and urged the media to concentrate on what he called “miseries of Baloch people”.
Mr Rabbani while speaking at a seminar on human rights in Karachi on Saturday had proclaimed that “actual power in Pakistan lies with the civil and military bureaucracy”.
He had stated that they needed to identify the forces which had distorted the ideology of Pakistan and changed it from originally being a welfare state to a national security state.
MUSHAHID-LED BODY BRIEFED ON CPEC PHASE-1
The News, December 15, 2015
ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Monday was briefed on its Phase-1 that entails a security and development plan for Gwadar at the cost of Rs3.4 billion. It directed the Ministry of Planning and Development to furnish details of the plan and the breakup of the cost in various sectors.
The Committee decided to recommend to the government to include agricultural sector in the CPEC. It has also decided to visit Sindh next month to inspect power projects in Thar and Port Qasim.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed chaired the meeting in which Secretary Planning and Development made a briefing. The members discussed in detail various aspects of the projects, their progress with reference to Gwadar which is the starting point of CPEC.
Mushahid in his remarks assured the members that “all the reservations of the local inhabitants of Gwadar would be addressed and resolved and the rights of the people of Gwadar as well as the people of Balochistan would be promoted and protected.”
The Committee got a briefing in detail about decision taken on 15 different items which include energy, road projects and Gwadar. Mushahid said the CPEC was a strategic national project, the most important in the country’s history since the nuclear programme and the CPEC was vital for Pakistan’s future prosperity by knitting the federation together through progress in the smaller provinces, particularly the less developed areas.
He cited the example of Balochistan and Khyber Pukhtoonkhaw and welcomed representatives of Gilgit Baltistan, who attended as special invitees. The committee was briefed that in phase-1, there was a security and development plan being developed in Gwadar at the cost of Rs3.4 billion and the committee directed the Ministry of Planning and Development to furnish details of the plan and the breakup of the cost in various sectors.
Senator Mushahid also briefed the Committee on CPEC Media Forum which was held in Islamabad last month, an effort to develop the CPEC specific website as well as his meeting with former Chief Minister Balochistan Sardar Akhtar Mengal, who was invited to attend the All-Parties Conference on Gwadar which Sardar Akhtar Mengal convened on January 10.
Mushahid told the committee that he would attend the APC of Sardar Akhtar Mengal. He informed the committee that he would visit Khyber Pukhtoonkhaw on December to brief KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak on the CPEC and the working of the Parliamentary committee on CPEC.
Senator Fateh Muhammad Hassani said that he had been a member of the parliament since 1985 and he found the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC was ‘the most effective and competently run Parliamentary committee that I have witnessed during his long parliamentary career.’
Mushahid said that the first quarterly report of the committee was ready for presentation in the Parliament and he requested Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt General (Retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch to present it in the National Assembly.
The Committee also directed the Ministry of Water and Power to respond in full to the questions raised by Asad Umar by December 21. The meeting offered Fateha for the mother of Additional Secretary Qamar Suhail Lodhi who died last week.
Abdul Qadir Baloch, Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, Sardar Awais Leghari, Dr Ibadullah, Isphanyar Bhandara, Aijaz Jakhrani, Asad Umar, Ghous Bux Mahar, Alhaj Shahji Gul Afridi, Senator Fateh Mohammd Hassani, Senator Salahuddin Tirmizi, Senator Shibli Faraz, Senator Telha Mehmood, Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo and Secretary National Assembly Muhammad Riaz attended the meeting.
CPEC WESTERN ROUTE TO BE COMPLETED NEXT YEAR
Dawn, December 15th, 2015
ISLAMABAD: The western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be completed by December 2016, the parliamentary committee on CPEC was told here on Monday, however the parliamentarians from Balochistan are worried about the future of the province’s people after the project is completed.
The members coming out of the in-camera committee meeting told media persons that the most serious concern by parliamentarians of Balochistan was regarding demographic change in their province in the backdrop of the mega project.
“What we are worried about is to know that future of our nation,” said one parliamentarian.
The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2015.
When there are billions of dollars involved in any project, there are bound to be concerns on how the money would be used, especially in a country like Pakistan where investment is on the lower side. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is said to be a $46-billion project, which is more than three times the reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan.
No one denies the potential of the CPEC to be a game changer for an investment-starved Pakistan. The corridor is slated to run along many underdeveloped areas and can provide employment for thousands. But when the governor of the country’s central bank says he is unaware of the debt and equity components of the billions that are to be invested in the CPEC, eyebrows are bound to be raised.
Then comes the news of the government giving the go-ahead to CPEC projects at a higher cost than was originally planned, and more scepticism follows.
The Central Development Working Party, which usually does not act in haste in giving a thumbs-up to projects, swiftly cleared three CPEC-related infrastructure projects for the final approval of the Executive Committee of National Economic Council. It is not the clearance, but the cost at which these projects are getting the green light that is causing discomfort.
On the one hand, the government is citing low tax revenue and imposing additional taxes to meet the shortfall; on the other hand, it continues to spend a bit too lavishly in other areas. Pressure from investors and contractors could be one reason for this, but the government needs to realise that the CPEC isn’t important just for Pakistan.
China is slated to gain sufficiently from the project too, and this is not a favour we are being bestowed with. Why, then, is there a lack of a competitive bidding process, with awards being contracted to companies of just one country? It is time that the government revealed details of the share of debt and equity components of the CPEC. The last thing we need is billions of dollars of supposed investment leading to piles of debt with the returns on projects restricted to a handful. There is a clear need for more transparency here.
CPEC STIMULATES INVESTMENT FROM OTHER COUNTRIES
The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2015.
LAHORE: Punjab Governor Muhammad Rafiq Rajwana has said that in the backdrop of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) programme, ambassadors of different countries are holding frequent meetings to discuss and offer investment in different sectors of the economy.
He was speaking at an informative and awareness session on ‘Shaping Pakistan’s Capital Market’ organised by the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE) on Thursday in a bid to create awareness of the integration of exchanges and the demutualisation process for development of the capital market.
Rajwana called the merger of the three stock exchanges of the country a good omen, saying it would generate investment, develop the capital market and strengthen investor confidence.
He praised members of the stock exchanges for extending cooperation that helped meet the International Monetary Fund’s deadline for the integration of bourses to improve corporate governance and transparency. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) also did a good job in this regard, he added.
Karachi Stock Exchange Deputy Managing Director Haroon Askari told the audience that earlier a perception prevailed that directors of the Karachi bourse framed regulations keeping in view their business interests.
However, after the start of PSE, stock operations would be separated from the management and an independent management would look after the affairs of the bourse while the SECP being a regulator would also play its role in ensuring transparency. He said a memorandum of understanding was signed for the integration of stock exchanges and reservations of the members had also been addressed.
“We are searching for a strategic partner from abroad and talks are under way with the Istanbul Stock Exchange, Qatar Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange,” he said.
Lahore Stock Exchange Managing Director Aftab Ahmed Chaudhry was of the view that after the merger, the cost of doing business at the bourse would come down, as at present investors were paying two types of commission on their transactions.
He expected that investor outreach would increase with the functioning of PSE and the number of investors, which currently stood around 250,000 at the three exchanges, would gradually increase.
CHINA-PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR: K-P DIGS DEEPER TO ALTER COURSE OF OUTCOME
The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2015.
PESHAWAR: After months of political wrangling with the federal government over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)’s intended route, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa now plans to pursue a more aggressive stance. And realising this could well be an exercise in futility if attempted alone, the party is mustering support to develop a consensus with other political forces in the province.
A convention will be held in the city on December 26 to develop a consensus on CPEC. Insiders told The Express Tribune on Wednesday, the meeting will be attended by all parliamentary leaders.
Dr Said Alam Mehsud, who heads the Pakhtunkhwa Ulasi Tehreek (PUT) and is also the K-P government’s technical expert on the CPEC. told The Express Tribune a committee of three members will be constituted to look into fund allocations for the Public Sector Development Plan (PSDP), inauguration of projects on the Western route of the CPEC, and whether the federal government will fulfil its promises agreed upon at the all-parties conference (APC) on May 28 this year. The committee is tasked with forging a consensus among political parties in K-P to exert pressure on the federal government.
There are some common concerns which are slated to bring the parties in K-P together. Mehsud explained that the working group proposed in the APC to address the grievances of other provinces has still not been constituted, despite a lapse of seven months. He added even minutes of that particular meeting have not been released.
The Awami National Party and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl were the two main political forces that had initially opposed the Planning Commission’s decision to construct the eastern alignment of the corridor before the western one. However, leaders of both parties were pacified following a meeting with the prime minister during which they were assured of their grievances being addressed.
Most recently, ANP chief Asfandyar Wali, whose party has vociferously opposed the change in the corridor’s route, met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and was assured of a six-lane motorway extending from DI Khan. “We believe the premier will fulfil his promise,” said ANP General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain. “They’ve realized it a little late. Govts get informed much sooner thanpolitical parties”.
For now, the K-P government has decided to contact the National Highway Authority (NHA) chairman and the Chinese ambassador for clarifications. On the legislative front, the provincial government has passed another resolution in the K-P Assembly against the route change. Officials privy to the matter say another more extreme move is also on the cards: to impose Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1984.
The K-P government’s stance is based on arguments presented by the PUT. Briefing parliamentarians in K-P, Dr Mehsud deliberated over the components that make the economic corridor package.
The expert claims that besides a shift in the CPEC route from the Western to the Eastern route, other components, too, have been shifted to the eastern alignment that runs through Punjab. “Initially, there was the [slogan of] ‘one belt, one road’, which focused on the Western route,” argued Mehsud.
It is only when the corridor’s route shifted to Punjab that terms such as ‘missing links’ and ‘multiple alignments’ were introduced,” he added.
Mehsud’s arguments are not isolated statements. They are supported by documents from the Planning Commission, stressed the expert. In its monographic study of the transport sector, the federal government documents the “new” plan of the eastern route as supported by subsequent fund allocations for PSDPs.
“We do not have a tunnel vision. The economic corridor can only be a game changer if its benefits go to the more underprivileged Baloch, Pashtuns and the people of Gilgit-Baltistan who have been largely ignored in development for the past 68 years,” maintained Dr Mehsud.
Officials say the K-P government has also started drafting a letter to the Centre.
A government official said the letter questions the role of the planning commission.
“The planning commission is the main authority after the 18th Constitutional Amendment,” he said. “However, it is yet to be signed by the chief minister.”
Insiders claim the provincial government intends to question the status of the Planning Commission if it fails to provide answers.
“There is no doubt that we will go to court against the commission,” said an insider.
CHINA ATTACHES NO CONDITIONS TO CPEC: SHAHBAZ
Dawn, December 10th, 2015
LAHORE: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif says China has attached “no conditions” to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that reflects depth of relations between the two countries.
He was addressing the inauguration of an international conference on CPEC at the Government College University (GCU) here on Wednesday.
The chief minister said of the $46 billion investment by China, $36bn were in the energy sector and “if everything goes fine 5,000MW to 6,000MW will be added to the national grid by 2017-18”.
He also announced sending about 300 students to China on merit for studies and learning Chinese language.
He said the Punjab government would invest about Rs600 million on them (students) and hinted at separating the school and higher education ministries in Punjab.
“To give more focus on secondary and higher education, the government is considering having a separate ministry for each,” he said.
He said there was a huge potential for hydro power projects in Pakistan but unfortunately all the political governments and military regimes wasted the 68 years of Pakistan.
He said the government was focusing on building dams, adding the Neelam-Jhelum dam was near completion while the land had been purchased for Bhasha dam.
Shahbaz also shared his golden memories of a student life at the Government College saying “today I am standing in my alma mater, so I will talk other than politics”.
Dr Akram Sheikh, the co-chair of NUST Global Think-Tank Network, said the government needed to adopt holistic, integrated, consultative and coordinated approach to gain maximum benefits from CPEC.
He asked the government to add a railway network to CPEC for long-term benefits from the project, saying “the road network alone is not sustainable”.
He said since there would be many mega projects, airports and new cities that would come out of the CPEC, a special authority should be immediately established to look after them.
He also shared the complete history and objectives of CPEC and its strategic importance for both China and Pakistan.
Vice-Chancellor Prof Hasan Amir Shah said speakers had a vision to transform GCU CECS into a “real think-tank” for Sino-Pak relations and this conference was a first step towards this goal.
He called upon the chief minister, the Higher Education Commission and the Chinese consulate for their support for a permanent Chinese faculty at the university’s Center for Excellence, China Studies.
GCU’s CECS Director Dr Khalid Manzoor said CPEC was a ‘game-changer’ and would enhance Pakistan’s position in global politics.
“It will be more beneficial for Pakistan than Suez Canal for Egypt. Apart from political, economic and strategically advantages, it will also bring people of both the countries closer, which was a missing link in Sino-Pak relations,” he said.
MENGAL ASKS GOVT TO ADDRESS BALOCH CONCERNS ON CPEC
Dawn, December 11th, 2015
ISLAMABAD: The president of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M), Sardar Akhtar Mengal, said here on Thursday that the fate of the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project would not be different from that of the Kalabagh dam without addressing the concerns of Baloch people.
Addressing a press conference along with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, he said “our concerns on the CPEC project are similar to those the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the Kalabagh dam”.
He said the CPEC should benefit the people of Balochistan because Gwadar seaport which was an integral part of the project belonged to them, adding that Baloch people should not be deprived of their due rights.
Sardar Mengal said he had called a multi-party conference on the CEPC on Jan 10 and invited all stakeholders. He said Imran Khan had also been invited and he had agreed to attend it.
Before the joint press conference Sardar Mengal and Imran Khan had held a closed door meeting which lasted about an hour.
Sardar Mengal said the role of the establishment in Balochistan did not change even after the present government came to power. He criticised security agencies’ operations in Balochistan and urged the media to concentrate on what he called “miseries of Baloch people”.
On a question about the reports of replacement of Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch under the Murree agreement, he said he was neither a part of the agreement nor he had any concern over the matter.
Asked if in his view there had been any improvement in Balochistan during the tenure of Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik, the BNP-M leader said that chief minister himself had admitted in recent statement that nothing had changed in the province.
When asked if he would support Sardar Sanaullah Zahri as chief minister, Sardar Mengal said he would support only those who would work for the betterment of the province.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan said the CEPC offered a golden opportunity for development and prosperity and it should not be missed by faulty planning.
He said that through the CPEC China wanted to develop its remote and backward areas which were 9,000 kms away from the sea.
He criticised the federal government and accused it of not paying due attention to the neglected areas of the country.
He said the western route of the CPEC should be as beneficial as the eastern route.
Criticising security agencies’ operations in Balochistan, he said: “We have to keep Balochistan with us by not using force but by providing justice to people”.
He said that although the decision about the CPEC had been taken in 2013 but the nation was kept in dark about its actual route.