ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday summoned an all parties conference (APC) to meet today (Friday) to iron out differences and address concerns of the smaller provinces and regional parties on the vital China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Officials said the prime minister wanted to address the grievances of the smaller provinces and the smaller parties in the APC.

CPEC is a vital part of Silk Road Initiative - a vision and strategy of China to expand cultural and economic ties with Eurasian countries through cooperation and communication.

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative to promote connectivity, cooperation and common prosperity along the ancient land and maritime Silk Road trade routes.

The Belt and Road routes run through Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting the vibrant East Asia economic circle at one end and the developed European economic circle at the other, and encompassing countries with huge potential for economic development, according to an official publication by the Chinese government.

Also in 2013, Pakistani-Chinese governments agreed to launch a landmark project called CPEC which will connect Pakistan’s deep sea Gwadar Port with China’s Xinjiang region.

Both Pakistan and China are discussing a number of mega projects under the rubric of Economic Corridor in several fields like energy, infrastructure and connectivity which would revitalise Pakistan’s economy.

The Economic Corridor, with a total investment of $46 billion, is a new glaring example of the close friendship between Pakistan and China.

Officials said members of the committee formed in Peshawar’s APC will attend the meeting along with Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party leader Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Jamaat-e-Islami leader Sirajul Haq, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pervez Khattak, Pakistan People’s Party’s Khanzada Khan, Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam)’s Ajmal Wazir and Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao.

A senior government official said the meeting was aimed at addressing the concerns over CPEC. The opposition parties had been expressing reservations over industrial zone and western route of the CPEC.

A few days earlier, Balochistan National Party (Mengal) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal chaired an APC in Islamabad to develop consensus over the mega project.

The APC was attended by the national and regional parties including the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The regional parties were unanimous that the centre was depriving them of the fruits of the game-changing project.

Another government official said the prime minister was determined to resolve the differences and implement the CPEC project after consensus.

“He is ready to listen to anybody and will be aiming to convince the parties to set aside differences in the larger national interest. The aggrieved parties will be assured their issues will be considered seriously,” he said.

The official said the PM hopes to evolve a consensus in the Friday’s APC and inform China of the positive development.

CPEC ENSURES UPLIFT OF ALL REGIONS IN PAKISTAN: CHINA

INP adds: A spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry has reiterated that building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was an important consensus reached between leaders of the two sides and it ensured common development of all regions of Pakistan.

When asked to comment on some differences on implementation of the CPEC, appearing in media, the spokesman said the Economic Corridor would span the breadth and width of Pakistan, bring benefits to all the Pakistani people and drive common development and prosperity of China, Pakistan and the whole region.

“As a long-term and systematic project, the CPEC needs scientific planning before being implemented step by step. We stand ready to work with Pakistan to complete the projects under construction and make long-term plans to ensure that the building of the corridor continues to deliver new achievements,” he said in Beijing.