Friday, May 1, 2015

Balochistan MPAs warn centre against changing corridor route


QUETTA: Both treasury and opposition members of the Balochistan Assembly cautioned the federal government on Thursday against making any changes in the Gwadar-Kashgar (China-Pakistan) economic corridor plan, saying such a decision would strengthen the sense of deprivation among the people of Balochistan and develop misunderstanding among provinces.

Speaking on identical adjournment motions tabled by Zamarak Khan Achakzai and Nasrullah Zeray, the members expressed the hope that the federal government would respect the resolution adopted by the house on Feb 28 on the matter. The resolution urged the centre to implement the original plan which included construction of highways on the route passing through Gwadar, Quetta, Zhob and Dera Ismail Khan.

The session was presided over by Nasrullah Zeray.

The MPAs regretted that the reported change in the route of had made the important project controversial. They termed it an unwise policy of the federal government and accused it of creating differences between Punjab and other provinces.

Those who spoke included Sardar Reza Mohammad Barach, Nawab Mohammad Khan Jogezai, Shahida Rauf, William John Barkat, Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, Samina Khan, Ruqiya Hashmi, Arifa Sadiq, Mir Asim Kurd and Husna Bano.

The members said there was ambiguity in the policy statement of the federal government as on one hand it said there was no change in the original plan, on other it announced that work on the Quetta-Zhob-Dera Ismail Khan route would be carried out in the second phase of the project.

They said any change in the original plan would affect national solidarity. Implementing the original plan would have a positive impact on backward areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they added.

The lawmakers were critical of the media for what they called inadequate coverage of events and problems of Balochistan.

The chair formed a committee of parliamentary groups headed by Minister of Information Abdur Rahim Ziaratwal to discuss the matter with the management of the electronic media groups and editors of newspapers.

On points of order Zamarak Achakzai, Syed Liaquat Agha, Sardar Abdur Rehman Khetran, Jaffar Khan Mandokhel and Sardar Sanaullah Zehri said that issues of Balochistan and political activities in the province were ignored by the media.

The session was adjourned till Saturday.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2015

Economic corridor: ANP denounces change in route, calls APC


ANP and other nationalist parties claim that Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been ignored in the 3,000 kilometres long Gwadar-Kashghar route of CPEC.

QUETTA: Awami National Party (ANP) has announced to convene a multi-party conference in Quetta on May 16 to discuss the issue of Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its proposed route.

ANP and other Baloch nationalist parties claim that Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been ignored in the 3,000 kilometres long Gwadar-Kashghar route of CPEC. "We have approached and invited all political parties to the all parties conference (APC)," Mian Iftikhar, the ANP leader told a news conference in Quetta on Friday evening.

The party has also announced to hold a shutter down strike in Quetta on May 6 against the reported change in CPEC.

Iftikhar claimed that the federal government has deliberately created a controversy, neglecting the smaller provinces. "We will resist any change in route," warned the former KP information minister.

ANP delegation, led by Mian Iftikhar, had a detailed meeting with Balochistan Chief Minister Dr. Malik Baloch, PML-N Balochistan Chief Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and other political leaders with regard to CPEC.

Iftikhar stated that if the route is changed or altered then the federal government will be held responsible for every kind of unrest.

He said the deprivation of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was at peak and that Islamabad was not paying heed to the sufferings of smaller provinces.

Iftikhar claimed that the rulers have ignored the people of Gwadar in terms of development activities. "Rulers must take people of Gwadar into confidence before taking any decision", the ANP leader stressed.

The economic corridor

The project is part of Beijing's “Belt and Road” plan to expand its trade and transport footprint across Central and South Asia. It will give China easier access to Middle Eastern oil via the deepwater port of Gwadar.

The project generated controversy with political leaders particularly of smaller provinces alleging the project has been altered to benefit Punjab.

The route apparently under its original plan ran from Gwadar to Quetta, then up to Zhob before veering east towards Dera Ismail Khan.

The government was criticised for having changed this route to go straight east from Gwadar towards Khuzdar, then slightly northeast to cross the River Indus near Ratodero and connect with the road network in Sindh.

The government strenuously denied that any route changes were made, arguing that two routes are being pursued, and on the request of the Chinese, the second route is being built first simply because it is cheaper to do so.

The central route will link Gwadar, Khuzdar and other areas on way to Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan and Peshawar, while the eastern route will connect Gwadar to Ratodero, Sukkur and Karachi and upward to cities in Punjab and from there to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and then Khunjerab Pass.

Then there have been security concerns over much of the plan, which relies on developing Gwadar — control of which was passed to a Chinese company in 2013.

The port lies near the mouth of the Gulf of Oman, east of the Strait of Hormuz through which much of the Middle East's crude production passes.

But linking Gwadar to the rest of Pakistan and on to the western Chinese city of Kashgar, 3,000 kilometres (1,860 miles) away, would involve major infrastructure work in Balochistan. This is one of Pakistan's most unstable provinces and has been dogged for over a decade by a bloody separatist insurgency.

Ethnic Baloch rebels, who oppose Gwadar's development while the province is not independent, have in the past blown up numerous gas pipelines and trains and attacked Chinese engineers.

Bids invited for Pak-China Economic Corridor project


 DEC 24, 2014 10:19AM

ISLAMABAD: Bids have been invited from Chinese construction companies and other international and local firms for the multi-billion dollar project of Pak-China Economic Corridor (PCEC), the country’s biggest road project recently launched by the government.

According to a document, the bids have been invited through national and international publications.

Work on one of the sections of the PCEC has been initiated this month under which a motorway from Havelian to Thakot as phase-I of the Islamabad-Raikot section of the corridor would be constructed.

The Havalian to Thakot section of the corridor is being financed by China while other phases will be carried out on the basis of Built Operate and Transfer (BOT).

The second section of the PCEC will be initiated next month for the construction of a motorway from Karachi to Hyderabad. The project has been awarded to the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO).  

The third section will be initiated in a couple of months for the construction of Multan-Sukkur Motorway.

Some other sections, including Hyderabad to Sukkur, Lahore to Multan and Sukkur to Multan motorways will be started one by one.

Talking to Dawn, a senior official of National Highway Authority (NHA) said that it was a wrong impression that only Chinese firms would execute work on all sections of the PCEC. Bids had been invited from all international and local firms and any firm could win the contract, he added.

He said in a major strategic shift the NHA’s financial regime had been changed and all mega road projects were being executed on the basis of BOT.

In past such projects were conducted through government assistance.

The official said the firms which would invest their money in the PCEC project would be paid through collection of road tax (toll). “We will not give any prior financial guarantee to the firms but they will be given toll plazas, service areas and the right-of-way of the sections they will execute,” he added.

The official said besides the PCEC project some other related projects would also be initiated soon. They included reconstruction of existing Islamabad-Lahore Motorway and Karakorum Highway (KKH) that originates from the Pak-China border.

Talking about the Islamabad-Lahore Motorway (M-2), the official said according to its original plan it was to be reconstructed after 10 years of its construction but it was not done even after the lapse of 17 years. This project was also being executed on the BOT basis.

Answering a question about a controversy that the NHA has awarded a contract to a firm of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s close aide Saifur Rehman, the head of defunct Ehteasb Bureau or the previous version of National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the official said no contract of any section of the PCEC had been awarded to Mr Rehman.

However, he added, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed between the NHA and Mr Rehman’s firm for a consultancy study of the PCEC project which was being carried out free of cost.

Published in Dawn December 24th , 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment