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MPC urges govt to follow declaration issued by parties last year

MPC urges govt to follow declaration issued by parties last year

PESHAWAR: A multi-party conference (MPC) convened by the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) on Thursday to discuss the controversy surrounding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) voiced concern over lack of infrastructure projects along the western leg of the corridor and urged Islamabad to follow recommendations of a multi-party conference held on May 28 last year.

Reading out a declaration adopted by the conference at a briefing for reporters, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the participants acknowledged significance of the project, but were concerned about some steps taken by the federal government. “These decisions are causing unease among people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.”

The plans for the western section did not contain what was agreed upon in the May 28 conference presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he added.

As the CPEC was basically a trade corridor, the JUI-F leader said, it must be specified where and when industrial and trade zones would be set up along its western route.

He said that current maps of the CPEC did not mention gas pipelines, electricity transmission lines, fibre optic cables, railway lines and liquefied natural gas facilities for industries to be set up along the western route. “This creates an impression that the western route is just another road, not a trade corridor.”

He urged the federal government to ensure that the associated projects remained part of the western leg of the economic corridor and make an announcement to this effect to clear the air and end controversies surrounding the project.

Maulana Fazl said that all political parties which had participated in Thursday’s MPC had set up a seven-member committee for talks with the prime minister in order to apprise him of their concerns.

He said that there was a contradiction between the May 28 declaration and the recent briefings by the federal government about the project.

“We must be told where industrial zones and other associated projects are to be located along the western leg,” the JUI-F chief said.

He called for restoration of the original plan of the CPEC and said that political parties of the region would not back off from their position.

KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said that Wednesday’s briefing by the Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, on the CPEC was not satisfactory.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, general secretary of the Awami National Party, warned that if the government tried to confine the benefits of the CPEC to Punjab, it would lead to failure.

The MPC was attended, among others, by Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Mehmood Achakzai, Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Sherpao, PML-N senior leader Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Mushtaq Ahmed Khan of the Jamaat-i-Islami and Faisal Karim Kundi of the PPP.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2016

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