PM tries to allay ‘corridor’ concernsPakistan
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attempted on Tuesday to allay the concerns of some quarters over the route of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (PCEC), saying the wide-ranging cooperation between the two countries was going to benefit all regions of the country.
Addressing the joint sitting of parliament, the PM said: “This is a catalytic project that will help us to combine the geo-strategic and geo-economic streams of our relationship. It will benefit the entire country and all the provinces — Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir.”
The remarks came as he thanked the Chinese president before the latter’s address to parliament.
According to government sources, it was important to emphasise this point in the presence of the country’s entire political leadership.
The PM also made use of the occasion to impress upon the visiting Chinese president how the country’s political leadership was on the same page when it came to the time-tested friendship between the two countries.
“As you can see, leaders and representatives of all the political parties are here to welcome you. All political parties in Pakistan have one united stance: Pakistan should have a robust bond with China. This is also the aspiration of the constituents they represent and, in fact, the entire nation of Pakistan.”
On Monday, a number of opposition members in the National Assembly had asked the government benches to provide them details of the PCEC route. In February, a conference of political parties organised by the Awami National Party in Islamabad vowed to resist the federal government’s reported plan to change the PCEC route.
The forum went as far as to warn the federation of “serious consequences” if the PML-N government insisted on excluding areas of KP and Balochistan from the economic corridor.
Last month, Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik, speaking on the floor of the provincial assembly that had passed a resolution against alleged attempts to alter the PCEC route, said he would “take up the issue with the federal government”.
Although the government has yet to announce the final route, Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal, in a recent media interaction, clarified that it wasn’t just one route, but a network of multiple roads from Gwadar to Khunjerab.
One of the routes goes through Gwadar-Quetta-Killa Saifullah-Zhob-Dera Ismail Khan-Peshawar.
The second route will be Gwadar-Ratodero-Sukkur and the Indus Highway. The third route will be Gwadar-Sukkur and the Karachi to Peshawar motorway, the minister explained.
Economist Dr Kaiser Bengali, who advises the Balochistan CM, told Dawn: “The best way to address the concerns of the relevant quarters is that the government formally presents the PCEC route before the two houses of parliament.”
In his remarks, the PM also supported China’s defence and foreign policies. “Let me assure you Mr president, Pakistan considers China’s security as its own security. We would fight together to eliminate the menace of terrorism.
“Our joint efforts in this regard have succeeded but we need to intensify these efforts to accomplish our objective. In the international forums, Pakistan will continue to support One-China Policy and China’s stand on its core national interests.”
The PM also spoke highly of the Chinese president’s “one belt, one road” vision. “We applaud your vision of ‘Community of Shared Destiny’, underpinned by ‘One Belt, One Road’.
“This vision is anchored in the strong desire of the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe to cement their common bonds for a better future.”
Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2015
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