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Pakistan parliamentary panel rejects plan for CPEC authority



Work on CPEC has slowed down under Imran Khan's government: Reports

By PTISeptember 06, 2019 20:59 IST

(File) The 3,000-km-long CPEC is aimed at connecting China and Pakistan with rail, road, pipelines and optical cable fiber network | Reuters

In a jolt to the Pakistan government, a parliamentary panel on the  $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has unanimously rejected a plan to bring the whole CPEC-related work under one umbrella, according to media reports on Friday.

The CPEC, which connects China's Xinjiang province with the strategic Gwadar Port in Balochistan, is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The 3,000-km CPEC is aimed at connecting China and Pakistan with rail, road, pipelines and optical fibre cable networks.

The Parliamentary Committee on the CPEC on Thursday opposed the government's proposal to set up the CPEC Authority, terming it an unnecessary move that will create more confusion in the execution of the ambitious project.

The joint parliamentary committee also criticised the government's decision to set up the authority through a presidential ordinance which will further erode the moral authority of the government, The Express Tribune reported. 

The parliamentary panel's rejection of the CPEC Authority is a big jolt to the government's plan to bring the whole CPEC related work under one umbrella, Geo News reported.

This week, the Cabinet approved a report to promulgate a presidential ordinance to set up the CPEC Authority to oversee the implementation of CPEC projects, the Ministry of Planning and Development informed the parliamentary committee.

The majority of the members of the joint parliamentary committee expressed serious concerns over the decision to set up the authority, a committee member told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity. 

Pakistan's military establishment floated the CPEC Authority idea in 2016, which the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had shot down, the report said.

Last month, in its maiden meeting, the National Development Council  a joint forum of civilian and military leadership, approved the constitution of the CPEC Authority for ensuring fast track implementation of CPEC projects.

The committee members questioned the rationale and objective of the authority that according to them would duplicate the work being undertaken by the Ministry of Energy, Board of Investment and National Highway Authority.

Work on the CPEC projects has significantly slowed down after the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan came into power in August last year, the Express Tribune report said.

"The Planning Commission high-ups could not convince the parliamentarians why this CPEC Authority is necessary to run the CPEC related projects," a committee member told Geo News.

The issue was then put up for a vote by the chairman of the parliamentary panel before the committee members who unanimously rejected establishment of the CPEC Authority, the report said. 

India is opposed to the BRI's China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as it is being built through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The US has said the Chinese infrastructure and connectivity projects around the world have an element of "national security" and are less of an economic offer for host countries.

"They're moving into the South China Sea is not because they want freedom of navigation. Their efforts to build ports around the world aren't because they want to be good shipbuilders and stewards of waterways, but rather they have a state national security element to each and every one of them," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in March.

The Belt and Road Initiative is no different, he asserted.

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