The Balochistan government expressed its reservations over unfair distribution or allocation of projects being visualised, planned and executed under CPEC.
Taking briefing on Provincial share in CPEC and preparations for next Joint Coordination Committee Session to be held in China, the cabinet members decided to present Government’s agenda to the Chinese officials for approval what they pledged for people of Balochistan.
The Cabinet members stressed upon four lined DI Khan-Zhob-Quetta Highway, Four Line Khuzdar Baseema Highway, Four Line Nokandi-Mashkail-Pnajgur-Mand-Turbat-Gawadar Highway, Loralai-Musakhial-Tonsa Highway, Makran Transmission Line and Burj e Aziz Dam must be discussed in Joint Working Group Session.
The Balochistan cabinet was left shell-shocked at the end of a briefing on the progress of CPEC projects in the province when it was revealed that no progress has been made in any projects outside Gwadar and the meagre share of the province in the overall portfolio of CPEC projects.
Ruling Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) founder Saeed Ahmed Hashmi has said that federal Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiar has confirmed that western route is not part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Balochistan neglected in overall development strategy of successive governments despite being the richest among all federating units in terms of natural resources. Sui Gas was discovered in 1950s and after 65 years, more than 29 huge districts of Balochistan were denied gas facilities to this date. At the same time, Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, the former Federal Minister, is enjoying the gas facility at his home town Narowal, the last border village of Pakistan with the Indian Punjab.
In the case with CPEC projects, all this has added to a collective sense of deprivation ultimately leading to a sense of alienation. The leadership of Balochistan on either side of the political and ideological divide is unanimous while agitating these grievances.
The Provincial Cabinet hoped that the Planning Commission, while finalising agenda for the JCC meeting, would not repeat the mistakes of the past by ignoring the suggestions and proposals of the Balochistan government.
But the Centre, in its usual reversal of motives, opted to mislead people of the smaller provinces through its cosmetic measures. While 667 billion rupees are allocated for Lahore-Karachi motorway, the highways which are being developed in name of CPEC in Balochistan, and were inaugurated by the former PM, cost less than 30 billion rupees.
Balochistan political parties and even former Chief Minister’s had accused the Centre of ignoring Balochistan in the CPEC projects.
All these investment being made in the Punjab had nothing to do with the CPEC as a direct investment agreed as a result of bilateral agreements. Other provinces should approach China or other friendly countries bring direct investment in their respective provinces for which the Punjab should have no objection.
CPEC is a national project whereby all provinces should be involved in the decision making process. Otherwise the lack of trust will remain which will compromise the project and deadlines will be missed. Federal government should need to attend to these development disparities and ensure that the province is fully integrated into future economic development plans. A peaceful and prosperous Balochistan is central to CPEC’s success, without which the project’s benefits can never be reaped.