Khyber-Pashtunkhwa raises fresh concerns about corridor project

Tells centre western and northern routes, Sino-Pak trade imbalance missing from CPEC long-term plan.

cpec 02PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has conveyed its concerns to the federal government about several aspects missing from the draft long-term plan (LTP) of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, including western and northern routes, Sino-Pak trade imbalance and water resource management.

The LTP 2017-30 is a national plan approved by both the Chinese and Pakistani governments and would remain effective till 2030, while its’ short and medium term aspects would be operative until 2020 and 2025, respectively.

The officials said the draft LTP was shared with the KP government recently seeking comments and suggestion on various aspects of the plan.

They however said the government was given only five days to review the plan and offer comments.

“The time allowed (five days) to us for envisioning holistically and offering comprehensive comments on LTP for such a significant, ‘game changer’ undertaking with far-reaching effects is extremely limited,” an official reply to the federal government said, while highlighting its concerns over the missing links in the plan.

The KP government has shared its 11-page interim response with the federal government. The interim response, a copy available with Dawn, offers critique of the various aspects of the 30- page LTP.

In its appraisal of the LTP, the KP government has pointed out that the connectivity chapter of the plan was silent about the western route already being undertaken by the federal government as well as the northern route (three passages), of which one passage had already been accepted by the CPEC joint coordination committee.

Regarding the second northern route, it noted that currently, the entire CPEC trade was based on a single passage (Haripur-Khunjerab), which passes through the most difficult terrain in the world.

“From a strategic point of view, a fully functional back-up route is needed from first Gilgit-Shandur-Chitral-Dir-Mardan, second Bisham-Swat/Alupur and third Besham-Alpuri-Buner-Mardan,” it noted.

Besides this, it pointed out that the document also misses Indus Highway, connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia through KP, besides failing to mention strengthening of integration of Fata with rest of Pakistan.

It stated that the document only mentioned Chinese key functional zones, while there was no mention of Pakistani key functional zones. “LTP is a Pakistani document and needs to state its requirements properly,” it added.

The chapter concerning industries and industrial parks said Pakistan important economic zones other than Gwadar Free Trade Area needs to be mentioned and failure to treat the subject properly may lead to miscarriage of development.

In KP, promotion of Hattar, Rashakai and Dera Ismail Khan special economic zones would lead would contribute to Pakistan’s economic growth, it notes.

It also points out that the LTP has paid inadequate attention to the mining sector, which was very important for both the KP and Balochistan.

The document went on to note that the northern tourism belt centered around KP and GB and development of northern tour routes does not get any mention in the LTP, while in the energy sector, development of oil and gas downstream sector (along Indus Highway) also needed to be addressed.

The document said the trade imbalance between China and Pakistan needed to be mentioned in the LTP. It proposed that under industrialisation collaboration, those industries be set up that aimed at import substitution in Pakistani market and on making Pakistan an export hub.

“There is no mention of cooperation in tourism, agriculture and water resource management,” it read.

It also said free trade area was also needed in KP and GB to meet requirements of Afghanistan and Central Asia.

It also suggested the development of floriculture saying KP has immense potential for it and a flower exporting country will have an excellent brand image of Pakistan.

The document also asked for a five years plan for Pakistan-China economic cooperation, regulatory framework for the industry, timelines for opening of financial institutions, inclusion of dairy sector and dispute resolution mechanism to resolve commercial disputes with simple procedural laws.

The KP government has also proposed a second fiber-optic cable route in the north running from KP to Gwadar, which will provide an alternative connectivity to Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia.

It said the LTP needs to provide definition of core as well as radiation zones and which parts of Punjab, KP, Baluchistan and GB are included as core zones and which areas of the country fall under the radiation zones.

It said the documents didn’t adequately foresee potential for growth in KP’s urban economic growth centers and therefore, towns of Abbottabad-Haripur, Nowshera-Mardan and Chitral and Malakand division needed to be mentioned as nodes.

“Being dead on CPEC route, these will see exponential growth,” it added. -DN

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