Saturday, January 16, 2016

Balochistan APC tells govt to address CPEC concerns

* Wants rights of natural resources and seaports of province handed over to Balochistan government * Demands appropriate payment to people against Gwadar lands.

January 11, 2016

ISLAMABAD: An all-parties conference (APC) hosted by Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) on Sunday to discuss the reservations of Balochistan regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) urged the federal government to address the concerns of the province over the multi-billion-dollar project.

A declaration issued after the conference demanded that the promises made by the prime minister to the provinces on the CPEC project must be fulfilled in true letter and spirit.

The declaration demanded that Baloch should not be considered a minority. “People of Gwadar must be provided with basic facilities of life. Local people should be given priority in the development projects. Fishermen should be given alternate jobs,” the declaration stated.

Furthermore, it was demanded that the ban on local people of Gwadar regarding participation in political activities must be removed. “We condemn the issue of new CNICs to the local people of Gwadar. They should be paid accordingly against the land acquired from them. The people of Gwadar should not be divided,” the declaration demanded.

BNP-M Chairman Akhtar Mengal told the conference that Balochistan should be given its due share in the CPEC project. “The rights of natural resources and sea ports of the province should be handed over to Balochistan government,” he demanded.

While addressing the conference, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak said his province had no share in the project. “Doesn’t federal government want to make any infrastructure in KP and Balochistan?” he asked. “I am the CM of KP but have never been contacted regarding the project,” he said. “We are not traitors. No one should treat us like that,” he said. “We presented the resolution for construction of Western route of the CPEC but never got any response from the central government,” he said.

The participants of the conference were of the view that the CPEC was a project of the national interest which would help open new avenues of development and progress in the region, besides bringing economic stability to the country and uplifting the standard of living of the common man.

The speakers said that it was high time to develop consensus on the CPEC. They said no province should be deprived of its share in benefits of the project as neglecting any province would raise a sense of deprivation among the people.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal told the conference that energy projects worth over $25 billion were set to be completed in three provinces under the CPEC. “Energy projects worth $7.1 billion, $6.9 billion and $11.5 billion will be completed in Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh respectively under the CPEC,” he said.

The APC was attended by key political figures, including KP CM Pervez Khattak, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, QWP chief Aftab Sherpao, PkMAP leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai, PPP leader Farhatullah Babar, JI leader Liaquat Baloch, PML-N leader Raja Zafarul Haq, federal ministers Ahsan Iqbal and Kh Saad Rafiq, Senate Deputy Chairman and JUI-F leader Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, JUI-F’s Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, PML-Q leader Mushahid Hussain and ANP leader Mian Iftikhar Ahmed.

The reservations by the APC were expressed a day after China, taking serious notice of the recent divide among different political parties in Pakistan over CPEC, urged them to address their difference in order to create favourable conditions for the completion of the project.

“We hope that relevant parties could strengthen communication and coordination and solve differences properly so as to create favorable conditions for the CPEC,” a statement issued by the Chinese embassy in Islamabad said.

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