ISLAMABAD: Senators belonging to Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) on Monday threatened to stage a sit-in outside of the Parliament House to protest the change in the originally proposed route of the Pak-China Economic Corridor Project (ECP).
At a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Communication, the lawmakers lamented that the smaller provinces – Balochistan and K-P – were being deprived of the economic benefits of this multibillion-rupee project by diverting its route to Sindh and Punjab.
They said that although they had expressed reservations in the Senate and at the meeting of the Senate panel umpteen times, and even sent reminders to the prime minister seeking a review of the decision, nothing has been done to address their concern.
“Now, the only option we have is to stage a sit-in outside the Parliament House,” said Senator Hamayun Mandokhel from Balochistan. He added that he would boycott the upcoming Senate session and would instead stage the sit-in. Other senators from Balochistan and K-P endorsed his decision.
Senator Mandokhel said such controversial decisions would further strengthen the prevailing sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan. Other participants of Monday’s meeting agreed with Senator Mandokhel, saying that the exclusion of backward areas of Balochistan and K-P from the ECP route would deepen the sense of alienation among people there.
According to all participants, the original ECP route was to pass through DI Khan in K-P to Zhob and then Quetta in Balochistan. However, under the new plan, the 2,681-km-long route will start from Khunjrab and then pass through Raikot, Thako, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Havelian, Haripur, Islamabad, Pindi Bhattian, Faisalabad, Khanewal, Multan, Sukkur, Shikarpur, Ratodero, Khuzdar and then to Gwadar.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2015.