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Ahsan Iqbal briefs Parliamentary Committee on CPEC, consensus among all provinces on CPEC

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ISLAMABAD:(APS)January 16, 2017-The Parliamentary Committee on CPEC met today under the Chairmanship of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed. This was the 20th meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC and it received a detailed and comprehensive briefing by Minister for Planning, Ahsan Iqbal on the recently concluded 6th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) in Beijing on December 28-29, 2016, which was attended by Chief Ministers of KPK, Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan.

During the briefing, Ahsan Iqbal said that they have achieved total consensus among the provinces as to the way forward on CPEC where Bhasha Dam would also be part of the CPEC and he said that 11000 MW of electricity would be added to the national grid by 2018, 5000 MW under CPEC and 5000 MW under non-CPEC projects and he said that this was the biggest energy investment in the history of Pakistan.

Ahsan Iqbal told the committee that the for the first time, Thar coal which had a huge capacity would be used for electricity for the next 400 years and there were two transmission lines being installed between Matiari-Lahore and Matiari-Faisalabad which would evacuate electricity from south and will be connected to the national grid benefitting all parts of Pakistan.

Additionally, there was agreement on giving priority, construction of the Western route of CPEC as well as up-gradation and dualization of Karachi-Torkham railway line at a cost of $ 8 billion. This would be the biggest railway modernization project in the history of Pakistan.

The Minister informed the Parliamentary Committee that industrial zones proposed by the provinces as well as Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan had been accepted and proper feasibility would be carried out as well as the proposal by Sind government for an additional port at Ketti Bandar. He said that all four provincial capitals, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar would have rail-based mass transit system as part of CPEC. He added that the November 13 Kashgar-Gwadar karvan that had carried goods from Kashgar to Gwadar had travelled on the Western route and he said that the establishment of this road link had slashed the travel distance from Quetta to Gwadar from 2 days to 8 hours.

Ahsan Iqbal briefed the Committee that people to people exchanges including media, academia, universities, think tanks and cultural exchanges as well as training in Chinese languages and transfer of knowledge in different sectors particularly industrial zones, rural and urban development, water resource management and agriculture.

He also thanked the Parliamentary Committee for its relentless efforts throughout 2016 to forge consensus on CPEC through consultation of all its members representing different provinces and areas of Pakistan and the Parliamentary Committee’s role had positive results on CPEC.

In his remarks, Senator Mushahid Hussain welcomed the breakthrough at the JCC meeting regarding CPEC meeting and said that CPEC was already on the road of consolidation and in 2017, it would be the year of takeoff for CPEC as all key projects, in consultation with provinces, were being pursued according to the specific timeframe and impediments have been removed. The members also underlined the need to expose and counter any baseless propaganda about CPEC by forces inimical to the interests of Pakistan and Pakistan-China strategic partnership.

On the recommendation of some of the members, it was decided that there would be a comprehensive briefing by the Ministry of Water & Power on the energy plan till 2020 as well as the construction of transmission lines by NTDC for the evacuation of electricity that are likely to be produced particularly in KPK. Ministry of Planning would also give briefing on the long terms plans of CPEC which will be going to run through till 2030.

The meeting was attended by Lt. Gen. (R) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Mr. Akram Khan Durrani, Rana Mohammad Afzal Khan, Mr. Isphanyar Bhandara, Mr. Asad Umar, Mr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Mr. Ghous Bux Mahar, Mr. Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, Alhaj Shahji Gul Afridi, Senator Lt. Gen. (R) Salahuddin Tirmizi, Senator Shibli Faraz, Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman, Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan, Mr. Qamar Sohail Lodhi, Special Secretary and Mr. Nasim Khalid, newly appointed Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC.

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