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Politicians complained about Chinese projects

23 April, 2015

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QUETTA/PESHAWAR: Politicians complained that a plan for projects worth $46 billion to be built with Chinese funding has been unfairly changed to the disadvantage of two provinces.

Chinese President Xi Jinping launched the plan in Pakistan on Monday 20,April,2015. It involves energy and infrastructure projects linking the neighbours’ economies and creating an economic corridor between Pakistan’s Gwadar port and China’s western Xinjiang region.

Gwadar is on the Arabian Sea in Balochistan, where rebels complain that richer provinces unfairly exploit their mineral and gas resources.

The insurgency has raised doubts about the corridor, a network of roads, railways and pipelines. To minimise the risk, government planners have shifted its route east, to bypass as much of Balochistan as possible, Balochistan politicians said.

“We will not accept this decision and will resist this move very strongly,” provincial Minister for Planning and Development Hamid Khan Achakzai told Reuters. “It will be a big injustice.”

Jaffar Khan Mandokhel, a former provincial minister, said there would be a “strong reaction” to the change which would only benefit Pakistan’s richest province.

“The change is meant to give maximum benefit to Punjab, which is already considered the privileged province,” he said.

The route change would also mean the proposed corridor would largely bypass the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said Imran Khan, whose party rules the province. He condemned any route change as an injustice.

The complaints highlight the political risks for a plan China sees as a key part of its aim to forge “Silk Road” land and sea ties to markets in the Middle East and Europe.

The Pakistan Army said it was tackling the security risks by setting up a special division for the corridor, including nine army battalions and paramilitary forces.

Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak on Wednesday urged the federal government to revive the previous China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and not exclude DI Khan district of KP from it.

Addressing a press conference at the CM’s House, he said that the previous route was 635 kilometres short than the new one that would pass through Haripur, Mianwali, Bhakkar, DG Khan, Multan, Karachi and onward to Gwadar.

“We are concerned about the news of changes in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; the federal government should make it clear if there is any change in the previous route, and what would be the benefits and losses of the alteration,” Khattak said. He said that the KP government would protest with the federal government if the southern districts were excluded from the route, adding that any change would deprive KP from the actual benefit of the corridor. agencies

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