Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar has dispelled the impression that the pace of work on the CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] projects has been slowed down, reaffirming that major work of the projects has been completed by the current government.
Addressing a hurriedly called news conference on Friday, the Minister said two major sectors — power and infrastructure — in the first phase of CPEC were the main focus.
“Power projects with an installed capacity of 3,340-MW were completed during the previous government, while 5,864-MW power projects have been completed during the current government’s tenure,” he said. Apart from it, he added, work on another 1,824 MW project was also recently started and would complete after the tenure of this government.
Speaking about the infrastructure and road sector, the Minister informed the media persons that the PML-N [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz] government completed 394-KM long motorways and highways under CPEC, while the current government had so far completed 413 kilometers of the motorways and highways.
Asad Umar said the PML-N government totally ignored the ‘Western Corridor’ that was the heart of CPEC. He underlined that the Gwadar-Hoshab road was completed by the previous government, while the Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway, which was initiated by the PML-N government, was completed by the current government, and it would be operational in the next month. Apart from these two projects, he maintained, the previous government could not reach even the initial approval stage of any of the road projects on the Western Alignment.
The Minister said the Zhob-D. I. Khan road (210-KM) was approved and a loan application was submitted, while negotiations for the loan were in process. Similarly, he added, the contractor of the Zhob-Queta project had been mobilized and the PC-1 of the Quetta-Khuzdar road was approved. He underlined that funding for this project had already been allocated under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2021-22.
Dilating on the CPEC projects, he highlighted that the current government completed 67% work of the 110-KM Khuzdar-Basima road and the rest of it will be completed soon. He said the 146-KM Hoshab-Awaran road project had also been approved and a contractor had been mobilized. He underlined that the Hoshab-Awaran project was an integral part of the CPEC central alignment that connected the port city of Gwadar with Sindh. “In fact, real work on Western Corridor of CPEC was started during PTI government,” said Asad Umar, adding that it did not wait for the Chinese investment and started work on the projects with its own resources under PSDP.
Asad Umar said the government was also starting work on connecting roads to the Western Alignment. The Peshawar-D. I. Khan Motorway project was one such project which was recently approved, he informed. He held that the 460-KM Karachi-Quetta-Chaman road was also approved. One of its portions, he explained, will be completed by the government itself, while the other sections of this project will be constructed under a public-private partnership. The Minister asserted that these connecting roads and the Western Alignment were being built to take maximum benefit of the opportunities in Afghanistan as peace and stability will hopefully prevail in the country.
He said, “after completion of the first phase, we were entering in the second and very important phase of CPEC, under which the investment would come to a range of sectors including industrialization, agriculture, livestock, science and technology, and other social development sectors.”
He remarked that before the current government, there was not a single operational Special Economic Zone (SEZ) under CPEC. However, he maintained, two SEZs namely Allama Iqbal Industrial Zone in Faisalabad and Rashakai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were so far made operational in this government, while another SEZ named Dhabeji will soon be functional once the Sindh government select a contractor for it.
Asad Umar said that agriculture was an important sector in Pakistan, adding that China had vast experience in this sector and it could potentially help Pakistan strengthen the sector. So far, eight important initiatives in the agriculture sector have been approved through CPEC under which the Chinese will help Pakistanis to develop, he concluded.