PESHAWAR: The Pakistan-China Joint Cooperation Committee has approved three Khyber Pakhtunkhwa projects.
However, it is not immediately clear whether the much-touted alternate route connecting the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with Central Asian Republics via northern districts of the province is among the projects approved by the committee.
Three alternate routes proposed by the KP government suggest linking the corridor with CARs via Afghanistan. A short strip of the land belonging to Afghanistan separates the province’s northernmost district, Chitral, from Tajikistan.
In a statement issued here on Friday, the KP government said three of its projects were approved for inclusion in the CPEC project by the JCC, which met in Beijing on Thursday.
It said Chief Minister Pervez Khattak represented the province in the meeting.
“The projects approved for KP include 1700 megawatts run-of-the-river electricity project, Circular Railway track between Peshawar-Charsadda-Nowshera-Mardan and Swabi, and establishment of a state-of-the-art economic zone along the motorway,” the government said.
Confusion persists if proposed alternate route passing through KP part of CPEC project
However, officials familiar with the JCC proceedings claimed the KP’s alternate route project had been included in the CPEC besides those on circular railway track and economic zone.
“For hydel power, we found a window as a Chinese diligence team will visit Pakistan for the selection of power projects,” an official said, adding that the provincial government would prefer the projects based on hydel and indigenous resources and thus, opening the way for the province to sell its gas-based electricity projects as well.
In the statement, the government said in the JCC meeting, Mr. Khattak floated the idea of ‘future alternate route connecting Chinese town of Kashgar via Khunjarab-Bisham-Swat-Chakdara and Gilgit-Chitral and Chakdara.’
It said the CM also successfully presented the case of his province vis-à-vis the CPEC project before the JCC, which agreed on the construction of double fast railway track between Peshawar and Karachi and Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan, and dualisation of the Indus Highway connecting Peshawar with DI Khan and onward to Karachi.
The government said it inked a MoU for students exchange program with Chinese Shandong University under which the students from across the province would visit the varsity, while the Centre of Confucius Institute would be set up in KP.
The statement quoted the CM as telling the Chinese reporters that he was satisfied with the outcome of the meeting.
He however said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should convene another APC on the construction of the CPEC’s western route to remove concerns of KP.
“We all should work collectively for the development and prosperity of the country,” he said.
The CM said no one in Pakistan had any objection to the construction of the CPEC’s central route.
“Since the people of KP were not well aware of the western route of the corridor, the APC was convened on it. The PM assured the western route will be constructed first being the shortest one,” he said.
Mr. Khattak said there was no security problem with regard to the CPEC’s western route in KP and that all such speculations had been removed.
He said there would be foolproof security arrangements for the containers plying the western route as well as Chinese people.
The CM said all arrangements for the Peshawar Mass Transit project were in place and that work on it would begin in next March.
He said the technical training centres were being upgraded in the province to provide skilled manpower to various industries.
Mr. Khattak said 11 centres would be handed over to the Pakistan Air Force, while the rest would be run through the FWO and private sector.
He said he was hopeful that the CPEC would enhance geo-economic importance of KP and that it would become a hub of economic activities in the near future. -DN
THE PASHTUN TIMES