ISLAMABAD - In an attempt to calm down the rising fever in KP over funds allocation for different routes of CPEC, Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal yesterday talked to Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and assured to redress all reservations over the economic project. 

He made a phone call to Khattak on his reservations regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. However, this phone call failed to stop the provincial government officials from holding press conference on the CPEC issue, an official of the KP government told The Nation. Speaker KP Assembly, Asad Qaisar, along with all the leaders of parliamentary parties in KP assembly will hold a press conference in Peshawar today and will unveil its future strategy regarding CPEC, the official added. Earlier, the chief minister was not coming to the press conference but now he has also cancelled his trip to Islamabad and will be attending the press conference, the official revealed.

In his conversation, Ahsan assured that the federal government would fulfil the commitment made, regarding China Pakistan Economic Corridor, at All Parties Conference (APC) in May last and would build the western route, passing through backward areas of KP and Baluchistan on priority basis. He said that the federal government firmly believes that CPEC gave us historic opportunity to develop backward areas socially and economically. He assured Khattak that the federal government was ready to redress all the doubts and misunderstandings of the KP on the CPEC.

The government has claimed several times that it has prioritized and decided to construct the western route in the first phase adding that it will be operational by the end of 2016. A major portion of funds, $38 billion out of $46 billion, of the CPEC project will be spent on energy projects, majority of them located along the eastern route, particularly in Punjab.

The KP government Thursday had threatened to resort to extreme steps if the federal government did not complete the western alignment of CPEC on a priority basis.

In a press conference, following a meeting with Parliamentary Committee on CPEC Chairperson Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said that it was mutually agreed at the APC that the western route of CPEC would be built during the first phase on a priority basis. However, now only four-lane road is being constructed, the CM added. “We do not need a four-lane road. The provincial government can make roads with its own budget,” Khattak maintained.

He said, “KP needs a complete corridor with all components including railway tracks, LNG/natural gas pipelines and electricity projects.” The CM feared that if CPEC route with all its components was not provided then any industrial park or trade zones cannot be constructed along with it. He alleged that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif doesn’t look beyond Lahore and other areas of Punjab.