Unfair controversy about CPEC

Apropos Inamullah Khattak’s piece ‘Economic corridor, from prosperity to controversy’ published in The Nation 26 February. The informed writer has highlighted factors contributing to the controversy regarding the much publicized project. It is very unfortunate that the issue of the so-called alignment of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is being blown out of proportion. The critics claim that there was a design of the ‘original line’ of CPEC going through Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but the current plan mainly goes through Punjab and Sindh and bypasses the other two provinces.
A few home truths are in order. To start with, CPEC, being referred to as a ‘corridor’ is not correct as it is not just one highway or road, but a comprehensive network, which covers entire Pakistan; hence every province will benefit from it. Secondly, it is not merely a thoroughfare but incorporates numerous projects, including Gwadar Port, energy, transportation, economic zones, commercial parks and infrastructure. These projects have been planned to address the acute energy shortage and providing help and job opportunities to thousands of Pakistanis, especially in Baluchistan and KPK.
According to first meeting on transport infrastructure, it was agreed to start from Kashgar in China, through Khunjerab, Thakot, Mansehra, leading to Islamabad and then joining Lahore and Multan, it goes up to Sukkur. At Sukkur, the road is divided into two branches, first via Dera Allah Yar, Khuzdar, Nag, and Panjgur up to Gwadar. The second branch goes up to Karachi either via M-9 or M-7 and connects to Gwadar by coastal highway.
Some projects in the two provinces are well under way for instance in Baluchistan, the building of flagship project of Gwadar Port is under way, including the construction of East-Bay Expressway and International Airport. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the KKH Phase is being advanced. Feasibility studies on upgrading of Main Line 1 and Havelian Dry Port project.
Lahore, March 2.

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