Economic corridor: Federal government tries to ease concerns, remove suspicions

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Islamabad:Federal Minister Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal has stated that work on western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) progressing in full swing and the Gwadar-Surab Section will be completed by December 2016. The ground-breaking of D.I. Khan Section will take place in March this year and will be completed by July 2018. Western route is very much part of China-Pakistan Economic framework and has also been clarified by Embassy of China in Pakistan.

The federal government is determined to complete it on a priority basis. The minister Planning and Development made these remarks in a meeting with Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) Pervez Khattak. The CM was accompanied by parliamentary leaders of KPK Assembly here at Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform. The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere, in which Minister Ahsan Iqbal clarified misgivings about the CPEC.

The minister said that KPK should ensure speedy land acquisition of parts of western route, which has to pass through some areas of KPK. He assured KPK CM that the federal government would not discriminate against any province or region in CPEC, which is bound to benefit all parts of the country especially the less-developed provinces KPK and Balochistan. Ahsan Iqbal said that western route is very much part of monographic study of the CPEC, which is the guiding document of its transport plan. He clarified that CPEC document clearly states that no new CPEC road would be constructed under CPEC framework, but it envisages developing missing links on existing network, including the western route.

The minister Planning & Development also assured provincial chief minister that the federal government would incorporate the economic zones on the recommendations of provinces. He asked KP government to come up with their specific proposals on an economic zone. KPK should engage a well-reputed consultant to identify commercially viable sites in the province to make them attractive for investors. The minister of Planning also said that all provinces would be given the representation in the working group. He said that the federal government is ready to extend sovereign guarantee to KP.

Minister said that CPEC framework focuses on Gwadar infrastructure and energy in the first phase of CPEC. Ahsan Iqbal maintained that federal government believed in inclusive development in the country by not discriminating with any part of the country. He listed mega projects that the federal government has launched in KPK through PSDP including $11 billion Dassu Dam. In KPK, the federal government approved the highest number of projects related to higher education in the province as part of its commitment to empowering youth through higher education. He assured KPK CM that federal government would take the Chashma Right Bank Canal project on a priority basis that would benefit irrigation system. The CM KPK expressed satisfaction on assurance of federal government to provide funds for western route and assured to officially confirm sites received by KP government for industrial zones within three days