ISLAMABAD - The government has finally decided to construct the Western route as dual carriageway and finance it from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure development fund, it is learnt reliably here yesterday.

In the meeting of the 5th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of CPEC, held in Karachi last week, Federal Minister Planning, Development & Reforms Ahsan Iqbal pursued the Chinese delegation to include the Western route in the infrastructure/road development project of the CPEC, official sources told The Nation here on Monday.

The source informed that now the project has been included in the infrastructure development projects of CPEC.

“It has been decided that the roads on Western route will be constructed as a dual carriageway and the funds will be provided from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure development fund,” the source added.

CPEC is multi-sectoral project that includes energy, infrastructure/roads, Gwadar port, social projects, and industrial zones.

Although the government earlier had claimed that the Western route was part of the CPEC but actually it was a single road and was being constructed with the Asian Development Bank funds.

Ahsan Iqbal has time and again reiterated that building of the Western alignment of CPEC is the first and foremost priority of the government and the work on missing Gwadar-Quetta link of Western route would be completed by December 2016.

But the Opposition parties are contesting his claim by asserting that not a single penny has been allocated for the Western route, under CPEC, in the PSDP. The Opposition parties were also upset with the government by not following the commitment made by the Prime Minister at the APC for construction of the Western route.

The provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa have alleged that the Federal government is giving priority to the Eastern route and ignoring the Western route.

Opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah also criticised the government for ignoring the Western route and said that “the Eastern route under the CPEC is being given priority while the Western route which is shorter is being ignored”.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Khurshid asked the government to revisit its policy regarding the developmental work on CPEC.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC last month unanimously recommended the Federal government that the Western route should be built as a dual carriage way at the outset and, eventually, there should be a motorway linking Gwadar with the rest of the country along the Western route as after operationalisation of Gwadar Port, traffic on the Western route will increase substantially.

It may be added that the CPEC is a 15-year project between Pakistan and China spanning 2015-2030, while the Western route is among the Early Harvest Projects which have to be completed by 2018.

Gwadar will be connected to Khunjrab through multiple routes.