Economic passageway: Senators seek briefing on trade route by PM

Minister says he’ll quit if even a minor change in route proved

Qamar Zaman May 12, 2015
Minister says he’ll quit if even a minor change in route proved. PHOTO: AFP


In a bid to address ever growing concerns on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) route, the minister in-charge on Monday said he would quit if there were a change in the project. However, he failed to satisfy senators who insisted on a briefing by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“I assure you that I will quit and not defend [the decision] if someone could prove that the route, as agreed on July 5, 2013 [during the PM’s visit to China], has been changed,” Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said while fielding a barrage of questions, particularly raised by members from Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Though senators from both sides of the aisle comprehensively spoke about the issue and expressed their concerns during a marathon session that lasted more than six hours, the opposition made an attempt to boycott the proceedings when the minister took the floor, demanding a clarification on the subject from the PM.

However, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani convinced the opposition not to boycott and later on he gave a ruling to constitute a special committee – comprising members from all parties and provinces – to discuss the corridor project.

“This is a national project and no one wants to make it controversial but there is a gap of information, therefore, a special committee be constituted,” Rabbani said.  The move was welcomed by the Leader of the House, Raja Zafarul Haq.

During his speech, Ahsan Iqbal gave a detailed background of Pak-China relations and said there was confusion that the CPEC was the name of a road.

“Instead it is the name of a portfolio or package, and Gwadar port [as well as] energy [and] infrastructure [projects] and industrial zones are its components,” he said. Iqbal, however, clarified that Orange Line Railway Project for Lahore city was not part of the CPEC.

“There is also a misconception among many – including some lawmakers – that Karachi-Peshawar motorway is a part of the corridor route, which it is not,” he said.

He said the western route of the corridor would be completed by December 2016 and “it is our top priority to complete this route at the earliest and make it operational.”

Iqbal said Chinese companies would invest $37 billion in energy sector and the government would have a purchase agreement with them. Ahsan Iqbal said Pakistan has already missed several trains but “today we all have to stand united so that we do not miss this golden opportunity.”

Senator Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini, Ilys Bilour, Saifullah Magsi and Dawood Khan Achakzai said they did not want to make the project controversial and the establishment should stop alleging that they were working at someone else’s behest.

Earlier, the house unanimously passed a resolution in connection with victims of the Naltar Valley helicopter crash and recommended that “in acknowledgment of the services of diplomats who laid their lives while on duty and the valiant Pakistani pilots and soldier who embraced martyrdom, the highest national honour be conferred on them.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2015. 


abdullah | 6 years ago | Reply @Ishrat..Forget punjab .PTI won in KPK .If you cant do justice to KPK resign.I cannot wait for another 3 years under this party which fools the uneducated people of KPK by promising that they will open schools.Where are the schoolsssssssssssss.And please dont mention the schools opened and funded by NGOs. Mention schools KPK gov has opened.and that shows why imran and the jamtei islami ( funders and supporters of TTP) dont want an educated and progressive KPK. And can you please mention the areas else than peshawar which are better off under this gov. or you are just another punjabi bro of mine trying to prove PTI.Come to KPK bro.
ishrat salim | 6 years ago | Reply @abdullah: PML N made false promises to the people to get elected, so, have courage to accept the fact. If we all accept such false promises by the politicians as normal & part of life, then no wonder we are in such a mess.What are you going to answer to Allah swt if we have such perception of politics in Pakistan. I have not singled out Peshawar as KPK, but the whole of KPK is in better shape than what it was before. But Yes! Lahore is singled out as Punjab as if it is Punjab, while most of S Punjab is in dire need of improvement, that is why that want separate province, which is a legitimate demand. The action by the Army has been unilateral & the govt has no choice but to support their action. The presence of Punjabi Taliban, which was always denied by PML N govt has now become a reality & its presence has been conceded by the provincial govt. These terrorists were under the patronage ( paid ) of the Punjab provincial govt, that is why there was no act of terrorism compared to the rest of 3 provinces. So, please let us wait for the JC & the consequences of the mega projects under this govt.
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