Eastern corridor route: Pakistan, China to sign infrastructure financing deals

Published: April 16, 2015
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It will put to rest controversy plaguing the economic corridor.

It will put to rest controversy plaguing the economic corridor.

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan and China will sign multibillion-dollar infrastructure financing agreements during the long-awaited visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to make the eastern corridor route operational, which may put controversy over alignment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to rest.

Both countries will sign a government-to-government infrastructure framework agreement to initiate work on four projects besides separately signing their financing agreements.

The four projects will have to be completed to make the existing alignment along eastern parts of the country operational as a ‘stopgap arrangement’, said authorities in the Ministry of Planning and Development.

These projects are along the eastern corridor linking Thakot in the north to the Gwadar Port.

The officials said there were many missing links in the existing alignment that have to be bridged by the end of next year to make the Gwadar Port operational under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Under the programme, China wants to develop its under-developed western parts and will also have access to strategically located deep-sea Gwadar Port to secure commercial sea lines.

During the Chinese president’s visit, which is expected to begin from Monday, the financing agreements will be signed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and China’s commerce and trade minister. Dar will cut short his Washington visit and reach Islamabad on April 19.

The Chinese president’s visit will also play a critical role in restoring the regional power balance that foreign policy experts say has tilted in favour of India after President Barack Obama’s trip to New Delhi.

In the short term, both the countries have agreed to make the eastern route operational, which is easy to build besides being the safest among the three alignments. All of them are planned to be made operational in the next 15 years. They said there will be multiple nodes on the corridor, which will connect all the provinces.

Eastern line

The alignment has now been agreed with the starting point at Kashgar China and Khunjerab Pakistan. It will pass through Thakot-Mansehra-Islamabad-Lahore and Multan.

From Multan, the route will be linked to Hyderabad through Rohri and Dadu. The Hyderabad-Karachi portion will be linked through M-9. Karachi then will be linked to Gwadar through N-10 East Bay Express Way along the coastal line.

The framework agreement will ensure concessionary Chinese financing to make the eastern corridor fully operational.

Under the corridor, 487km Karakoram Highway Phase-II will be constructed from Raikot-Sazin-Thakot-Mansehra to Islamabad at a cost of $3.5 billion. During the visit, an agreement will be signed for roughly $1 billion concessionary financing for constructing 120 km of the 487km road.

The financing agreement will also cover the 387km Multan-Sukkur route to be constructed at a cost of $2.6 billion. China will give a 90% concessionary loan.

The East Bay Express Way costing $148 million will be part of the framework agreement, the officials added. Financing for the New Gwadar International Airport is also part of the broader agreement.

At Sukkur, the corridor is divided into two categories. The one along the eastern line will lead to Karachi and connect Gwadar through the coastal highway.

The second one will go through the centre of the country via Dera Allahyar to Khuzdar and touch the western route.

The western line passes through some restive areas of Balochistan. The officials said the western corridor was part of a long-term plan that was under process and will be completed by 2030.

There has been opposition to the eastern corridor by some political forces and the government is trying to overcome these challenges, said the officials.

“The opponents of the fate-changing project like CPEC are the enemies of Pakistan,” said Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal.

He said the country has to learn from Chinese development experience and stop politicising mega development projects through political statements.

The officials said the CPEC will equally benefit all the provinces. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, an 802km road and rail network will be constructed. In Balochistan, a 3,366km road and rail network will be constructed as well.

The $130-million breakwater construction at the Gwadar Port and $28 million for dredging of berthing areas and channels at the port are part of the package to be signed by both the sides.

China will also fund infrastructure development at the Gwadar export processing zone, necessary facilities for fresh water treatment at Gwadar and upgradation of the Gwadar Hospital.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • woody
    Apr 16, 2015 - 3:32AM

    The so called “corridor” is mostly a road which is closed to China in the winter — also if you look a the map one might ask what value Gwadar brings to the table – why offload in Gwadar only to drive the product to Karachi which already has a port?Recommend

  • john
    Apr 16, 2015 - 7:40AM

    Indian secret service will interrupt the mega deal. it wants to isolate Pakistan from the world while showing good faith on Muslims and people of PakistanRecommend

  • SK
    Apr 16, 2015 - 8:33AM

    it is absolutely ironic that NS always looks after Punjab’s interests and if anyone questions his tactics, he or his cronies label that person as enemies of Pakistan- keep doing that and you won’t get unity which you are looking forRecommend

  • IK
    Apr 16, 2015 - 12:36PM

    No body is against the development of Punjab but the priority should be given to less developed provences KPK and Balochistan. We need to set our priority right. Nwaz sharif should act like a national leader rather than a Punjabi one…this the only way to unit the nation… and stop calling people as state enemies for raising their voices for their rights..Recommend

  • Abdullah
    Apr 16, 2015 - 1:07PM

    to all those who have problem with punjab.kindly start sending your kids to school .so next time it will be KPK or balohistan.Punjab has more money because people atleast try to send children to schools.Where as my friends whose parents are millionaires in KPK dont care if the kid is going to school or not.All of you set your priorities right.Education makes alot of difference.no one will want to invest in roads in areas where people dont have knowledge.See thats why karachi gets alot of investment because karachites are educated people.Recommend

  • Jameel ur Rasheed
    Apr 16, 2015 - 3:39PM

    Chinese investment would come by way of equity investments in Pakistan with minimum guaranteed returns, already agreed prior to investment. Now what is being done that, million dollar deal is being signed on country to country basis while only selective parts of country are being benefited from this project. Just like a pool of fund in which four provinces would add resources just to be spent by Punjab. And for all those who claim that Pakistan will prosper if Punjab prospers, lemme tell you that is the case with every part of country. Collective prosperity comes whenever you develop any part of the country and you can’t build road on roads on peoples’ sentiments.Recommend

  • khan
    Apr 16, 2015 - 5:28PM

    @Abdullah:

    What an illiterate argument by “Psuedo” intellect…

    What has road to do with education??? Roads are for transport purpose and are built for the ease of people communication, in this case a major factor is shortest/Fastest/Safest transport of goods to China Eastern provinces.

    Punjabis changed the route for investment in that province, not because their “educated” children will design spaceships but to provide their illiterate masses “AKA…Kami Kameen” with hard labor.Recommend

  • smalee
    Apr 16, 2015 - 6:13PM

    AoA,

    Please save us from Punjab Gardi.

    This planning will lead to unfortunate events like the ONE happened in 1971.
    The immediate requirement is to divide Punjab into parts as India did.
    We always follow India in many things, specially while setting (increasing) tariff.
    Unfortunately NS only focus North Punjab (mainly Lahore), while South and Central Punjab conditions are similar to Baluchistan.Recommend

  • Mir Marri
    Apr 16, 2015 - 8:15PM

    which kind of linkage with china of Pakistan? Balochistan and KPK are not parts of pakistan by passing all Balochistan and KPK? feel some shame you are enjoying all natural resources
    of Balochistan with out Balochistan You are nothing. you mean panjabi and some other rascals
    they are insisting the people of Balochistan to fight against their rights.Recommend

  • Hamid Bangash
    Apr 16, 2015 - 11:08PM

    @ abdullah
    It is responsibility of state to give free education and rights to their people. Your bureaucracy has given the people of FATA and KPK bundle of guns instead of Pen. Why didn’t they use their own children for this cause?? Whatever you have got in past and you will be getting today and in future is not because of your education but using other peoples blood for making your homes. At-least they are not beggars like your so called educated bureaucrats Recommend

  • Malveros
    Apr 17, 2015 - 1:28AM

    @khan:
    Kindly put your mouth where the money is. The track on offer is on China’s request not NS. Even for that they have requested a specialized force to protect their workers. China will not waste their time and resources on following an alternate route that goes through uneducated areas, lack of population and which has security issues.Recommend

  • Malveros
    Apr 17, 2015 - 1:33AM

    @Hamid Bangash:
    Ohh please. That is a stupid argument to begin with. Ask the elected people of KPK and Tribal Areas to focus on education and being competitive rather than blaming other Provinces People.Recommend

  • amjad
    Apr 17, 2015 - 10:54AM

    Nobody talk about the comparative costs of the two alternates on the East and the West lines, the potential benefits to be reaped. What is the time required to complete the two alternative projects? Most importantly, what the govt will do to compensate the people on the western line? Will givt start a mega project to provide free quality technical/vocational education/training and employment opportunities for the deprived/underdeveloped areas on the western side of the country?Recommend

  • Mohsin
    Apr 17, 2015 - 12:44PM

    @woody:
    I believe no one is going to stop anyone from using the Karachi port. It’s can also be seen as an alternate trading route for Pakistan. Plus it would help make strategic alliances with Afghanistan and Iran.Recommend

  • Attif Abbas
    Apr 18, 2015 - 6:14AM

    Both china and Pakistan will pay the royalties to Baloch sardars for safe passage, obviously not to those who are with India or USA.Rather than winning here they should get there money from respective partners and pass some to there friends.Recommend

  • Shakil
    Apr 23, 2015 - 6:59PM

    Well it shouldnt be another long route when it could have save so much by adopting more western route. and This so called route is already developed as most of it has already motorways built. So either China or Mr Nawaz Sharif are in hurry or trying save .
    If Chinese transit lorries has to go to Karachi and then Gawadar, Recommend

  • Shahid
    May 14, 2015 - 12:54PM

    Dear All,
    It is clear to all that there is central part of Pakistan and all the political parties, ruling government, establishment and nation should allow this route to be passed on the center of the country. Every Province then can extend links to their respective provincial headquarters links. I think it will be the right choice and every one can support this other than it is possible to happen mishap again….like 1971…… Recommend

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