At the route of it: Political alliance to fight for share in CPEC

Leaders from southern districts warn of protests

Hidayat Khan February 08, 2016
Former Federal minister Salim Saifullah Khan talking to newsmen in Peshawar. PHOTO: ONLINE

PESHAWAR: Senior politicians from the southern districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have formed an alliance to secure the rights of their region in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

An 11-member committee was formed, which includes politicians from all parties, with the objective to discuss the subject at all forums and even pay the Chinese government a visit. The committee would devise a future course of action to strive for the rights of underdeveloped areas in the southern part of the province, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Frontier Regions.

Senior politicians, including ANP’s Afrasiab Khattak, PPP Senator Salim Saifullah Khan, PTI MNA Shehryar Afridi PML-N’s Rahmat Salam, MNA Ghazi Gulab Jamal, PTI MPA Zareen Zia, Adviser to the CM on Prisons Qasim Khan Khattak, Minister for Law Imtiaz Shahid Qureshi and others gathered at the Peshawar Press Club on Monday to discuss the situation. They warned both the K-P and federal governments they would mobilise the public if their rights were ignored.

The politicians said they were initially given assurances work on western routes would be carried out on a priority basis, but they failed to see any progress.

“The western route is incomplete until the southern districts of K-P are included,” said Afrasiab.

Proximity to markets

He added not only was it the shortest route, but it was closest to the markets of Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian countries.

Afrasiab added, “The federal government already stated existing routes would be used for the CEPC; therefore Indus Highway is the most suitable path” which should be converted into a six-lane motorway of international standards. Railways, energy projects and industrial estates should also be set up along the route, he said.

According to the ANP leader, the alliance had the support of all political parties and would meet the prime minister, K-P chief minister and stakeholders of the project including the Chinese government. He said the politicians would raise their voice at every forum.

Afrasiab stressed there was no energy project for the southern region even though the area had an abundance of resources.

Looking for development

“If China can undertake mega projects for its underdeveloped regions, why can’t Pakistan?” he questioned.

Routes through Fata, K-P and Balochistan should also be included in the project, he said, adding political leaders had raised their voice in national and provincial assemblies, but nobody listened.

Salim Saifullah said they were more interested in the development of the country, but all parts should have equal representation. “Balochistan and southern regions of K-P, along with Fata, are not developed and are more affected by conflict,” he pointed out.

“We just want our rights and an allocation should be made for this trade route immediately,” said Saifullah.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th,  2016.



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