QUETTA: Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal has said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not a project for a single province but a national project on which the central Asian countries and Mongolia have pinned hopes for development. The multi-billion dollar CPEC project is a network of roads and rail links that will connect China’s Western part with Arabian Sea through Gwadar Port.
“No province can be ignored in the project. The current government believes in uniform development,” said Iqbal, while addressing a press conference at Balochistan Chief Minister House on Friday.
He said it was encouraging to note that nobody was against this project, including Balochistan’s trade fraternity, political parties, religious leadership and chambers of commerce.
“The political discord, internal fighting and destabilisation may suit local politics but foreign investment doesn’t come to places where such problems exist,” he said.
The minister said the centre of the development projects would be Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan and Pakistan would be soon included among the first 25 developed countries.
Iqbal said he had held long meetings with all stakeholders for at least 8 hours in which all questions were answered and all reservations addressed. He said he assured that no one unit of the country would be meted out any injustice.
“This impression is totally wrong that development projects of one province have been shifted to another province. We run short of electricity for running the already existing industries; so how can we build new industrial zones,” he questioned.
Earlier, the government and opposition parties in Balochistan unanimously presented a 14-point memorandum to Ahsan Iqbal, emphasising to first initiate construction work on the CPEC’s western route as per the consensus reached at the all parties conference (APC) held on May 28, 2015.
The delegation asked to start work on the railway lines, industrial zones, fiber optic network and other related projects. They also demanded to build new dams, provide funds for the grid stations, discover natural resources and take practical steps for their productions.
Opposition parties in Balochistan Assembly also held a press conference demanding to first initiate work on the CPEC’s western route. They said they would call on the prime minister and would decide their next move, if their demand is not accepted.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2016.