Nationalists quietly abandon anti-CPEC protest

ISLAMABAD - Political forces have abandoned the movement against the changes in the original map of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) without getting any credible guarantee from the government about fulfilling the commitment to construct Western Route.
Background discussions with leaders of nationalist political parties revealed that they have not got any significant outcome of the series of All Parties Conferences (APCs) convened by them to press the government to construct Western route of the corridor that would pass through the smaller provinces.
Senior party leaders who wished to remain unnamed told The Nation that the nationalist forces too were not unanimous in their set of demands about the multi-billion-dollar infrastructure project.
In fact, the Awami National Party (ANP) and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) too are split apart on the issue of Western Route of the corridor. Mehmood Khan Achkazai, head of PkMAP did not attend the APC convened in this regard by ANP in Islamabad last year.
“We have no solid assurance from the government that our demands will be met though Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a commitment to meet our stance on the Western route. I think we need another APC but nobody is ready to take the lead,” a senior ANP leader said.
Senator Jahanzeb Jamaldini who represents Balochistan National Party Mengal (BNP-M) in Senate candidly said that the nationalist forces were not united in their cause. “Our stance should have been on the priority of construction of Western route. But the political parties had actually other priorities,” he said.
He said religious forces like JUI-F and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) had no issue with the controversy surrounding the Western route of the corridor. “Some parties just participated in the APCs convened by political parties otherwise they had no problem with the controversy on the issue,” Jamaldini said.
Interestingly, the ANP that was the first to reveal about the violation of the original map of CPEC has silently abandoned its protest against the route changes in the corridor without getting any assurance from the government regarding its demands.
The party had insisted on the Western route to be constructed first, however, the government kicked off work on the eastern route of the infrastructure project.
Even the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) too after crying the changes in the route, joined the other parties in keeping silence over the issue.
There is one pressure group in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that has been holding seminars and walks against the political parties that abandoned the movement against the changes in the CPEC projects.
Pakhtunkhwa Olasi Tehreek (POT) that has participated in all gatherings and APCs called by political parties, termed the silence of nationalist forces on the controversy as ‘compromise’ at the cost of the smaller provinces.
Dr Said Alam, head of the POT told The Nation that the mysterious silence of ethnic politicians on the corridor controversy was a betrayal with the cause of the deprived people of smaller provinces.
“The ANP, PkMAP and the BNP-M should inform their followers about the promise made to them by the government regarding the equal distribution of the CPEC segments. I am sure they have nothing to say. The champions of provincial autonomy should explain why they abandoned the movement and what are the promises made to them,” Dr Alam said.
Dr Alam said he will soon hold a protest demonstration in Islamabad and will ask the political leaders to make public the assurances made to them by the government regarding distribution of CPEC components in provinces.

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