ISLAMABAD - Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Monday proposed to add agricultural sector as part of CPEC and also asked the government to define the role of railways in CPEC.

Chairman Parliamentary Committee on CPEC Mushahid Hussain Syed, presiding over the 7th meeting of the committee, said the western route of the Corridor will be completed by December 2016.

The committee was briefed by the secretary Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms regarding the 5th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on CPEC. It was informed that the JCC, which is the apex decision-making body on CPEC between China and Pakistan, has adopted the updated list of prioritised and actively promoted energy projects. The committee was briefed in detail about decision taken on 15 different items which include energy, road projects and Gwadar.

The committee members discussed various aspects of the projects, their progress with reference to Gwadar which is the starting point of CPEC. Chairman parliamentary committee assured the members that “all the reservations of the local inhabitants of Gwadar would be addressed and resolved and the rights of the people of Gwadar as well as the people of Balochistan would be fully promoted and projected”.

Senator Mushahid said that the “CPEC is a strategic national project, the most important in the country’s history since the nuclear programme and vital for Pakistan’s future prosperity by knitting the federation together through progress in the smaller provinces particularly the less developed areas”. He welcomed the representatives of Gilgit-Baltistan, who attended the meeting as special invitees. The committee was briefed that in Phase-I, there was a security and development plan being developed in Gwadar at the cost of Rs 3.4 billion and the committee directed the Ministry of Planning and Development to furnish details of the plan and the breakup of the cost in various sectors.

Chairman committee also briefed the parliamentary committee about the CPEC Media Forum which was held in Islamabad on November 16, an effort to develop the CPEC specific website as well as his meeting with Sardar Akhtar Mengal, former chief minister of Balochistan. Sardar Mengal has invited the chairman of the parliamentary committee on CPEC to attend the all-parties conference on Gwadar to be held on January 10 next year.

Senator Mushahid further told that the first quarterly report of the committee was ready for presentation in parliament and he requested Minister for SAFRON, Lt-Gen (r) Abdul Qadir Baloch to present the report in the National Assembly on behalf of the committee.

The committee also directed the Ministry of Water and Power to respond to the queries raised by PTI leader Asad Umar by December 21.

Mushahid Hussain said the committee members visited Gwader on November 28-29 to witness the progress undergoing on western route. He said every province would be visited eventually. Earlier, the committee members visited Talar, Ghoshab and Turbat in Balochistan. He said the committee had also decided to visit Sindh next month to inspect the power projects in Thar and The Port Qasim.

As per plans the committee will also visit Peshawar to meet the KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak to brief him about the CPEC projects on December 31. He said the committee was briefed by Chinese ambassador on December 2 and next year they were going to visit China on their invitation.