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Govt of Pakistan is behind CPEC: Ahsan Iqbal

16 November, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Reaffirming that governments of the four provinces, three regions and the Centre are united to push forward the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for development and industrialisation, Minister for Interior and Planning Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday said that there were a few people who wanted ‘bodies’ to create chaos in the country.

He was speaking to journalists after a preparatory session with provincial and regional governments for a meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Council (JCC) to be held on Nov 20-21.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan, Deputy Speaker of Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Jafferulla Khan and KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra endorsed his views in their brief talk.

Mr Iqbal said it was ironic that an exceptional situation had been created three years ago when the CPEC was being launched and the precedent set by a political party by holding a prolonged sit-in was being followed by others to exploit religious sentiments, even though no political government could compromise on the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Mr Iqbal said the love for the Prophet (PBUH) did not demand creating problems for patients, students and public at large by holding a sit-in on the road between Rawalpindi and Islamabad and nobody had the power to issue certificates of belief in Allah and His Prophet (PBUH).

He alleged that there were a couple of people among those participating in the sit-in who were inciting violence and carrying weapons so that there could be violence and an emergency-like situation.

Responding to a question, he said people were now demanding action against the sit-in as it was creating problems for the general public, but because of those few armed men the government did not want a repeat of the Model Town tragedy.

“Action can have a cost and hence we request the protesters not to test our patience. But this cannot go on forever,” he warned, adding that the government wanted to exhaust all options before taking an extreme step. “There has to be an end. If the current situation continues, the government will have to take an extreme step.”

Mr Iqbal said that senior officials from China and Pakistan would meet on Nov 20, followed by leadership-level huddle led from the Chinese side by the vice chairman of the National Development and Reforms Commission and represented from Pakistan by all the chief ministers and representatives of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

He said the first phase of CPEC involving energy and infrastructure was in advanced stages and the project was entering the next level of industrial cooperation with involvement of all stakeholders. He said all the participants would attend the 7th JCC meeting with expressed commitment to completing the historic initiative as early as possible.

Mr Iqbal said the government had taken on board all political forces, the private sector and other stakeholders in the CPEC framework to ensure absolute inclusiveness reaching across the country, tribal region, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

He said details of the Karachi Circular Railway and Main Railway Line (ML-I) were final and a few issues for their crossings would be settled before the JCC.

He said that 85 million jobs were expected to be relocated from China to other countries and the CPEC offered Pakistan an opportunity to grab maximum share out of it.

He said that establishment of nine economic zones would bring maximum employment for local youth and the ownership of industrial zones had been given to the provinces to ensure inclusive development.

CM Khattak said the CPEC was a project of entire Pakistan and it would benefit all the provinces. He said the meeting was informed that not only the western route but a number of other projects in the road network were in progress in KP.

Mr Jhagra said the sphere of economic zones was being expanded to the tribal region that would be helpful in mainstreaming of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

AJK PM Farooq Khan thanked the federal government for including in CPEC the 280km Mansehra-Muzaffarabad-Mirpur highway project and an economic zone which would bring economic revolution to the region.

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