PESHAWAR - The federal government yesterday failed in its attempt to reassure Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and now the governor has recommended a four-member committee to negotiate the matters with the central government in next meeting.

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal yesterday met with the KP government high ups and parliamentary leaders of provincial assembly of the northwestern province in a bid to remove their concerns about alleged change in western route of the CPEC.

But the federal minster, in his briefing at the Governor House, failed to impress the participants. He also failed to provide satisfactory answers to 14 questions put to him by Chief Minister Parvez Khattak.

The highly level meeting, the parliamentary leaders vowed to fight the case at federal level, instead of listening to the ifs and buts of Ahsan Iqbal.

The meeting was chaired by Governor Sardar Mahtab Ahmad Khan. Besides, CM Khattak, Chief Secretary Amjad Ali Khan, KP Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, leaders of all parliamentary parties in the provincial assembly and senior government officials attended the meeting.

Addressing on the occasion, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak regretted that the federal government had not invited his government at any stage of decision making on the Economic Corridor and now it was trying to stop international investors from investing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said that the federal government has started the work on the Eastern Route by issuing its tenders while in the previous meeting the federal government had assured to start work on the Western Route.

“We want (to see) complete documentation of the agreement with Chinese government, budgetary allocation for the Western Route and time of completion of the project. We were assured that work will be started on western route but so far no land acquisition has been made for it,” he remarked.

The chief minister maintained that they do not need a piece of road until it has railway track, fiber optic line, electricity production units and gas pipeline.

He added that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has feasibility report of 4,000 mega watt electricity production but these projects have not been included in this project and no investor was allowed to invest in these projects as the federal government has put the condition of getting NOC from it before initiating any power production project.

Khattak said, “We need assurance of the federal government regarding start of work on Western Route and its comprehensiveness that it would include all the projects such as industrial parks, fibre optic cable, railway track and power houses which are the integral part of the CPEC.”

The governor during the meeting welcomed the participants and said that the purpose of the meeting was to create consensus, harmony and understanding in the major projects of national importance.

Addressing the meeting, Ahsan Iqbal said that the CPEC project will make Pakistan’s economy impregnable. The minister said that the project is not only beneficial for Pakistan but for the whole region.

He assured the participants of removing the reservations of the provincial leadership, saying “we cannot think of discrimination against any province”. He said reservations if any should be raised in the committee constituted on the CPEC project.

The four-member provincial committee constituted to negotiate the issues with the federal government comprises of Speaker Asad Qaiser, Opposition Leader Maulana Lutf ur Rehman, Senior Provincial Minister Inayat ullah and Chief Secretary Amjad Ali Khan.

Later, addressing a press conference at Peshawar Press Club, the minister said he had briefed Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and his cabinet about the original master plan of CPEC, and a committee comprising senior ministers of the province has been constituted to monitor the project.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the original master plan of CPEC would be materialised, and no change has been made in the western routes of the umbrella project. He added that original master plan of CPEC could be seen at www.pc.gov.pk

“I have answered the 14 points of CM Pervez Khattak concerning his reservations about change in Western Route of CPEC,” he claimed, adding that no changes could be made in the project without consultation of all the four provinces.

The minister claimed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has inaugurated construction work on missing section of a road from Quetta to Gawadar but it was misjudged as change in the Western Route.

“At initial stage, dilapidated conditions of roads connecting Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab would be improved and missing sections of highways would be constructed (only) then industrial zones and corridors could be established,” he maintained.

Citing proposed benefits of CPEC, the minister said that Afghanistan, Central Asian Republicans and Mangolia were asking Pakistan to get them shares in the projects for boosting their economy. “CPEC is not a game changer but a fate changer of the entire country in terms of economic development,” the minister said.

He lamented that political points scoring was being made on such mega projects, which he termed an obstacle in progress of national economy, adding that misconceptions about CPEC in media should be removed.

Answering to queries, Ahsan Iqbal further said that convening All Parties Conference (APC) on CPEC was a better than taking the issue to the Council of Common Interests (CCI) as the APC was an open forum where all political and other stakeholders can give their input.

The federal minister lamented that due to long march and sit-ins of PTI in Islamabad, inauguration of the project was delayed by six months.

He said that federal government was giving priority to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in development of infrastructure and bringing reforms in education sector. “Two major projects including construction of Dasu and Diamir-Basha Dam were being launched to strengthen energy sector of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the minister informed.

He said that construction work on Munda and Kurram Tangi dam would be started soon as PC-I were being reviewed for approval of planning and development department and Higher Education Commission has started number of projects and scholarship programs for students of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said that under the vision-2025 program backward areas of the country would be put on track of development. He added that stability in energy sector of Pakistan would be crucial as frequent and powerful electricity would be needed to enable the project to deliver fruitful results.