Sharif chairs all-party meeting on Pakistan-China corridor fears

Written by: IANS
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Islamabad, May 13: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday chaired a meeting in which representatives of all political parties were briefed on the proposed route of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

The premier assured the leadership of all political parties that the government was ready to remove their apprehensions regarding the proposed route of the CPEC project, Dawn reported.


According to sources, the government also decided to set up a parliamentary committee on the suggestions of the participants of the All-Parties Conference to oversee the CPEC project.

The project is part of Beijing's "Silk Belt and Road" plan to expand its trade and transport footprint across Central and South Asia. It would give China easier access to Middle Eastern oil via the deepwater port of Gwadar in Pakistan.

The project generated controversy with political leaders, particularly of smaller provinces, alleging that the project had been altered to benefit Punjab.

The route apparently under its original plan ran from Gwadar to Quetta, then up to Zhob before veering east towards Dera Ismail Khan.

The government was criticised for having allegedly changed this route to go straight east from Gwadar towards Khuzdar, then slightly northeast to cross the river Indus near Ratodero and connect with the road network in Sindh.

The government has however strenuously denied that any route changes were made, arguing that two routes are being pursued, and on the request of the Chinese, the second route was being built first simply because it was cheaper to do so.

According to the a statement, Sharif said that the federal government was also extending its support to the provincial government of Balochistan on the Reko Diq project, while the roads towards Gwadar would join the hearts of the people of Pakistan.

"I assure all of you that Gwadar will become an international port in the near future," he added.


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