ISLAMABAD - Spokesman for Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms Asim Khan has clarified that the propaganda that China prefers Hattar over Rashakai as priority Special Economic Zone is absolutely untrue and the speculations in this regard are out of context and one sided.

Asim Khan maintained that the Rashaki Economic Zone site has been identified by the Khyber Pakhutnkhwa government as priority location, approved for inclusion in CPEC by 6th Joint Cooperation Committee held on Dec 29, 2016 at Beijing, China. He said that the zone site has been preferred by the KP govt due to its location on M1-Peshawar to Karachi Motorway which under CPEC Transport Plan is part of Western and Eastern, both the corridors. The impression that it falls on Western Route is incorrect, he stressed. China wanted to promote Hattar as it falls on Eastern Corridor. Basically, Hattar falls on Northern Alignment of the CPEC, passing through KP northern region.

In fact, in 7th JCC held in Islamabad on 21st Nov, the Pakistan side expressed that Rashakai SEZ is its preference in KP. The Chinese expert group noted that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa pays high attention to the development of SEZs especially has done abundant work in Rashakai SEZ; it is suggested to make full use of the positivity of Khyber Palchtunkhwa to promote the construction of Rashakai SEZ at the earliest. Spokesman Asim Khan stated that feasibility study of Rashakai SEZ had already been shared with Chinese side for further processing of the joint experts groups. In such a situation, raising question on the priority SEZs list, already agreed, is baseless discussion.

Asim Khan further clarified that the main project of Western route; Hakla to Dera Ismal Khan 285 Km Motorway is planned to be completed till end of 2018, much a head of Eastern Route Multan-Sukkur Motorway project. Western Route is already operational and construction of Hakla Dera Ismail Khan Motorway would further decrease its length, linking Dera Ismail Khan directly to Northern Alignment of CPEC.