Islamabad: Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance have expressed their discontent with the government on its handling of the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, implying that the authorities were undermining the project through their clandestine.
Yesterday, the Senate Special Committee on CPEC also raised the same concerns regarding the disputed western route.
It is possible that these trepidations can be attributed to the allegation that the western route was announced simply to keep the voices of dissent quiet.
However, there is no way of ascertaining this considering that all aspects of CPEC are shrouded in secrecy and not up for debate for the general public.
On March 31, the first concrete step was taken towards implementing the creation of a western route as the government cleared the construction of the 285-kilometre long road along the western side of the country.
The Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan four-lane expressway is to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs129.
8 billion, and will link the undeveloped areas of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with the CPEC road network.
On May 11, the federal government assured all the provinces that the western route of the project will be constructed on an urgent basis and yet, the members of the abovementioned committees insist that no work has been done to date and there is no activity to begin the work that was promised to be expedited.
To make matters worse, the government has also ignored the western route in the development budget for the next financial year, giving priority to the eastern route.
This does not help to address the legitimate concerns expressed by the representatives of KP and Balochistan.
Among other allegations, there’s also the one that accuses the government of not expressing clarity in its plans of the various construction projects it has announced, subjecting the projects to the possibility of failing if transparency is not ensured.
The stated objective of this mega-project is national development, which means that all stakeholders should be brought on board.
And while the federal government is obviously at the helm of affairs, the provinces also deserve to be kept in the loop.
There is no doubt that the completion of the CPEC will usher an era of great economic prosperity for Pakistan and the whole region, hence it is understandable that the project is protected at great lengths by both the civil and military leadership.
But to ensure its completion all provinces and the federal government must make a coordinated effort and for that the government has to be more transparent in its transactions regarding the CPEC.