Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal Briefing newsmen at Governor House, Peshawar

Ahsan Iqbal rejects allegations about western route of CPEC

Peshawar: Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal categorically said Western route was an integral part of gigantic China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and not a single millimeter change had been made in this route. Briefing newsmen here at Governor House on Thursday after his meeting with Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pervez Khattak and his cabinet members regarding CPEC, Ahsan Iqbal said the agreement reached between provincial government and center on May 2016 about execution of CPEC projects was followed in letter and spirit.

“We are fully implementing the 11 point agreement reached between federal government and KP during our meeting in Peshawar in May 2016 about execution of CPEC projects,” Ahsan reiterated. Without inclusion of western route, CPEC project could not be completed, Ahsan said and continued that realizing its importance, and the government completed this route within a shortest period of two years by constructing 650 kilometers road from Gawadar to Sohrab. Due to completion of this road a convoy of Chinese goods reached Gawdar from Khunjarab while passing through western route, he continued. He also clarified that there was no such facility which was being planned for Eastern route and would not be given to the western route.

It had been decided in principle that one industrial estate would be set up in each province under CPEC and no province would get any additional benefits in this regard, he added. The Federal Minister also informed that in the beginning of CPEC, government was concentrating on building of roads and launching of power generation projects. He said in energy sector, our focus was on power generation through coal as a result of which major projects were planned for Southern region including Sindh and alauchistan.

He also gave a break up of dollar 35 billion to be invested in energy sector under CPEC out of which dollar 11 billion would be invested in Sindh and then major chunk would go to Balauchistan. He also clarified that most emphasis was given on coal-based power generation as we did not want to be dependent on hydel-based electricity which had become very uncertain due to prevailing issue of climate change. Similarly, fuel-based power generation capacity could be affected due to fluctuation in prices of furnace oil in international market.

Ahsan Iqbal rejected the allegations that Punjab was given preference in execution of CPEC projects and said all the provinces were getting their due share. He also informed that fiber optic cable would be laid from Khunjaran to Islamabad via passing through Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said some vested elements were creating misconceptions regarding implementation of CPEC as a result of which some misunderstandings had been developed between center and provinces.

Regarding his meeting with Chief Minister KP, the Federal Minister said it was held in a congenial environment and expressed the hope that the concerns of KP politicians would be removed. He also urged Speaker KP Assembly to withdraw his writ petition filed in Peshawar High Court over CPEC, saying it would discourage foreign investment. He said there existed a parliamentary committee on CPEC consisting of representatives of each province which was a suitable forum for raising any objection instead of opting for litigation.

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