CPEC body seeks recovery of Gwadar land under Pak agencies

ISLAMABAD: Amid the growing controversy over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Cabinet Committee on CPEC has directed the concerned ministries to immediately get vacated 116 acres of prime Gwadar land, which was under the possession of law enforcement agencies.

According to the official documents cited by The Express Tribune, the delay in getting the land vacated has slowed down work on two projects that were very critical for the full functioning of Gwadar Port and hampering work on infrastructure projects.

A report by Pakistani daily stated that under the Gwadar Port agreement signed between Beijing and Islamabad, the land had been leased out to Chinese companies. The CPEC committee said that the country’s Ministry of Defence should issue directives to Pakistan Navy, and Pakistan Coast Guards (PCG).

Amid the growing land dispute on CPEC, the cabinet committee was told that PCG was “flouting” instructions of the Prime Minister’s Office and was not vacating the land.

“Illegal construction is taking place on 25 acres of the Gwadar Free Zone occupied by Pakistan Coast Guards without permission of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs.” “The 25 acres of land has been leased to Chinese concession holders for the Gwadar Free Zone, port operations and the Eastbay Expressway project,” The Express Tribune reported.

This report comes a week after the Senate Special Committee on CPEC projects had said that Beijing has not funded any infrastructure project under the CPEC initiative.

Senator Sikandar Mandhro, chief of transport planning at the Pakistan Planning Ministry, had said because of the absence of the CPEC funding, some projects, including the Khuzdar-Basima project, were being carried out from the federal development funds, The Express Tribune reported.

In 2015, China announced an economic project in Pakistan worth USD 46 billion. With the CPEC, Beijing aims to expand its influence in Pakistan and across Central and South Asia in order to counter the influence of the United States and India.

The CPEC would link Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port (626 kilometers, 389 miles west of Karachi) in Balochistan on the Arabian Sea to China’s western Xinjiang region. It also includes plans to create road, rail and oil pipeline links to improve connectivity between China and the Middle East. (ANI)

It is pertinent to mention here that the second phase of construction of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will focus on industrial cooperation, agricultural cooperation, and construction of Gwadar port and socio-economic development, of which 27 new projects will be launched during the year.

Gwadar Port that will be a milestone in Pakistan’s economy

“During Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China, the relevant departments of the two countries signed a series of cooperation documents, paving the way for the second phase of the construction of the CPEC,” Cheng Xizhong, Professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law and Senior Research Fellow of the Chahar Institute, Special Commentator told “The Overseas Network” here on Saturday.

During the meeting, the leaders of the two countries pointed out the direction for the next phase of promoting the construction of the China-Pakistan economic corridor, stressing that the corridor should be turned into a high-quality demonstration project to build the Belt and Road.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, jointly established by the two countries, is the flagship project of the Belt and Road.

After more than four years of joint efforts, the first phase of the investment of US $ 19 billion in 22 projects have been completed and put into operation, and some are nearing completion.

These major projects, mainly related to energy and transport infrastructure, were completely alleviated by Pakistan’s long-standing power supply shortage and partially created a smooth highway network, thus setting the stage for a rapid track for Pakistan’s future socio-economic development.

Cheng said it is foreseeable that the scope of corridor construction will continue to expand and the pace will continue to accelerate, especially as China will actively help Pakistan to carry out projects in the field of people’s livelihood.

Cheng remarked over the years, Pakistan has experienced occasional financial crises, mainly caused by foreign exchange shortages.

The continued development of the China-Pakistan economic corridor will gradually improve Pakistan’s fiscal position.

For example, the Qasim Port coal-fired power station is a priority implementation project in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which has contributed US $167 million to the Pakistani government’s tax revenue in the past year or so.

Experts estimate that the first phase of 22 projects are fully completed and operational, the government’s tax contribution to the Pakistani government is likely to reach nearly US $ 10 billion.