CPEC: PPP voices concern over neglecting Gilgit-Baltistan

ISLAMABAD: Following the hardline stance of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) chapter has planned to go to court for ignoring the region in the multibillion-dollar project.

Talking to The Express Tribune, PPP G-B Chapter President Amjad Hussain said G-B has no voice in decision-making forums at the federal level because of which the region has been neglected in the CPEC.

“The PPP will soon call an All Parties Conference (APC) in Gilgit and consequently approach the Supreme Appellate Court against the federal government for neglecting the area as far as its due share in the project is concerned,” he said.

He mentioned that despite tremendous potential of hydroelectric power in G-B, not a single project has been earmarked for the region under the CPEC.

He said out of the total investment of $46 billion, around $37 billion would be spent on energy projects, ironically, not a single hydroelectric power project has been included in the CPEC.

He suggested that other than small hydropower projects, Diamer-Bhasha dam and Bunji dam must be included in the CPEC so that they could benefit the people of G-B.

“CPEC is emerging as more of a China-Punjab Economic Corridor. Funds are increasingly allocated for wind or coal power plants and most of these are to be established in Punjab,” he said. “International community is moving away from coal-powered plants due to worrying environmental trends, however, Pakistan is moving in the opposite direction.”

The PPP leader said G-B has no representation in the National Assembly, Senate and Council of Common Interests (CCI), which is the reason that its interest has been compromised in the CPEC.

“We have been left with no option except to approach the court as we don’t expect justice from the government,” he remarked.

Amjad also expressed his concern over the proposed shifting of Sust Dry Port to Havelian, saying it would render thousands of locals jobless. “Federal government must ensure that the area is declared a tax-free zone for certain years if it is planning to shift the dry port so that people would have an alternative option for economic activities,” he said.

Amjad said as per the Constitution of Pakistan, G-B is still a disputed territory and the government must address the constitutional bars so that there is no difficulty in implementation of the project.

“G-B is the gateway to the CPEC and it must be given the same status as Gwadar,” he noted. Amjad further said they would also convey their concerns to the Chinese authorities.