ISLAMABAD: The multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will not benefit the poor and backward areas, lawmakers said today.

The CPEC will connect Gwadar Port in Balochistan with China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang via a network of highways, motorways and railways passing throughout Pakistan’s provinces.

The government hopes it will boost the economy with new infrastructure and increased trade.

But according to Senator Talha Mahmood the corridor’s benefits will bypass the poor and swerve Pakistan’s neglected territories.

The high-powered 22-member committee was informed that the government has not allocated any funds for the Western route that is supposed to pass through the backward areas in Balochistan and touch parts of KP before leading into central Asia.

 “The project is still controversial in Pakistan as the government has not yet addressed the grievances of small provinces particularly Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” Senator Talha Mahmood told parliamentary committee on the CPEC held here at parliament house today.

However, officials of Planning Commission said that a road link between Dera Ismail Khan in KP and Hassan Abdal in Punjab would be constructed to address the grievances of political parties in KP.

Senator Shibli Faraz of PTI, a member of the committee, said industrial zones should be established in KP to boost business in the militancy-hit province.

Hasil Biinjo of National Party in Balochistan expressed dissatisfaction over the progress made on the route and said the backward province will not benefit from the project until work is kicked off on the western route.

Senator Talha Mahmood representing JUI-F said his party will insist on the construction of the western route and reject the government’s argument that route would pass through lawless areas.

“This is an absurd argument. Let’s make the lawless area a prosperous region. The government must start work on the route to remove the sense of deprivation prevailing in the area,” Senator Talha said.

Planning Commission officials assured that a feasibility study on constructing the western route was being finalized.