January 11, 2016
by Farah Jamil
An All-Party Conference (APC) on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has demanded the federal government give full rights of Gwadar port and mega projects to the Balochistan government and accept provincial rights on port and natural resources.
A day-long APC convened by Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal and attended by the leaders of various political parties has expressed serious concerns over what they say a serious lack of transparency and fair play in the implementation of CPEC-related projects.
The conference asked the government to implement first the decisions of May 28, 2015 APC on the western route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to benefit the people of backward areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Balochistan.
The conference also asked the government to introduce urgently a legislation and prepare a concrete policy with a view to recognising the demographic realities of the province and preventing the Baloch people at Gawadar and elsewhere in Balchistan from becoming a minority. In this regard, the APC demanded the government impose restrictions on issuing ID cards, local certificates and passports from Gwadar.
The APC further asked the government to provide infrastructure of clean drinking water, hospitals and schools for the people of Gwadar and establish port-related technical centers and a marine university in order to provide skill-based training to the locals of Gwadar.
The APC in its declaration stated that people of Makran should be given priority in employment at Gwadar Port and other mega projects. Fishermen must be given alternate employment opportunities in order to save them from economic exploitation. The various restrictions imposed on the people of Gwadar should be lifted and they should be allowed full freedom of movement. Unannounced restrictions on political freedom of people in Gwadar should also be removed.
The APC further stated in its declaration that the people of Gwadar should be provided with health facilities and sent abroad for technical education free of cost. Besides, they should also be provided with scholarship for higher education in the educational institutions of other provinces. The APC also asked the government for giving exemption in taxes and utility bills for thirty years to the local people of Gwadar. While highlighting the facts that people of Gwadar have been deprived of their ancestral land, the APC demanded the return of their land. The people of Gawadar must be given partnership in businesses at Gawadar and recruited in security forces for Gwadar Port.
Addressing the conference, KPP chief minister Pervaiz Khattak claimed that the government has already made huge allocations for the CPEC projects but none of these projects is in his province. He said although he is chief minister of the province he is not taken on board in relation to the CPEC. “We are not traitors and none one should call us traitor,” he stated.
Mian Iftikhar Hussain of Awami National Party stated the federal government has not convened Council of Common Interest (CCI) to resolve these issues and expressed serious concerns over ignoring KP.
Federal minister of planning development and reforms had an exchange of harsh words with Dr Jamal Deeni when the latter produced a map of route. Deeni said the people of Balochistan are not against development but want their due share.
Ahsan Iqbal insisted that the map presented by the Deeni was not accurate and claimed the government has not changed the route of CPEC. He added Balochistan’s share in the energy projects is $7.1 billion, 21 per cent of total amount for energy project, while shares of Sindh and Punjab in energy project were $11.5 billion and $6.5 billion, respectively. Other leaders also spoke during the day-long APC.
Other participants included Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party (PK-MAP) leader Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Awami National Party’s (ANP) Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Minister for Railways Saad Rafique, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, Qaumi Watan Party Chairperson Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak, former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, former Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Secretary General Liaqat Baloch, Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Farhatullah Babar.