‘Political instability in Pak would negatively impact pace of CPEC progress’

Islamabad: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) Joint Cooperation Committee has approved the Long term Plan on future cooperation however both countries could not conclude agreements on development projects and special economic zones, reported the Dawn.

Informed sources said the Chinese delegation complained about the political instability in Pakistan that would negatively impact on the pace of CPEC progress.

The two sides took almost four hours longer than the scheduled time to conclude the 7th JCC meeting as they struggled over acceptable phrases and language to sign off minutes of the meeting. They also could not finalise taxation issues and stood short of final agreement on inclusion for financing of special economic zones.

A lot of time was also consumed over Chinese insistence on prioritising the Hattar Industrial Estate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in view of its ready infrastructure instead of Rashakai near Peshawar, but it was finally agreed that the province’s priorities would be honoured in this respect.

After the conclusion of the meeting, Minister for Interior and Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal lamented that a political party’s sit-in ahead of the Chinese president’s visit to Pakistan in September 2014 had delayed the CPEC launching and that tradition was carried forward today ahead of the 7th JCC meeting.

He said Pakistan had to move beyond these sit-ins and become an economic power, but the protesters were earning a bad name for the country. He alleged that various methods and attempts were being made to “crash” Pakistan’s economic takeoff.

Mr Iqbal, who is Pakistan’s focal person for the CPEC, said the LTP had been under preparation for several months involving consultations among all stakeholders in Pakistan and China. “Today we have reached the agreement and approved the LTP that will encompass bilateral economic cooperation until 2030.”

He said the CPEC’s first phase involved removing energy and infrastructure bottlenecks in Pakistan to make them enablers of economic growth and hence $35 billion out of $46bn portfolio went to the energy sector, resulting in $27bn worth of projects now in implementation stage.

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