ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, at a meeting with the Chinese ambassador yesterday, made it clear that their anti-government protest over the Panama leaks was not meant to derail the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

The PTI chief also conveyed reservations of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to the Chinese ambassador over the western route of the CPEC.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong met PTI Chairman Imran Khan at his residence in Bani Gala. Senior PTI leaders, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Naeemul Haq and Shireen Mazari, also participated in the meeting.

A PTI leader, wishing anonymity, said the meeting was arranged on the request of PTI and the party chairman made it clear to the ambassador that his party was not against the CPEC project. “The government is trying to build up a narrative that our anti-government protest is meant to derail the CPEC. We have made it clear to the ambassador that the Panama leaks was a national issue and it has nothing to do away with the CPEC. We have conveyed that our agenda is not against the project,” he said

“Secondly, PTI conveyed its reservations to the ambassador over delay in the construction of the western route of the CPEC. The western route is being built without allied facilities, including rail and economic zones. The PTI chairman also mentioned the resolution passed by the KP Assembly with regard to the western route and said the legislators of the ruling PML-N have also signed it,” he said.

According to the PTI leader, the ambassador said the CPEC project was a government-to-government agreement and China was adopting a holistic approach over it. He advised PTI to covey these reservations to the federal government as this was their internal matter, the PTI leader affirmed.

Earlier, the resolution passed by the KP Assembly urged the federal government to ensure that the western route was part of the CPEC and would be completed on priority basis.

Earlier this month, KP Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak warned the federal government that no road of the CPEC would be allowed to pass through the province if the western route was not declared a part of the CPEC and all facilities were not provided to it. He had alleged the centre had kept them in the dark. “We do not need any ordinary road as we ourselves can make metros and motorways. We should be provided with an economic corridor with all facilities,” he had said.

INP adds: Imran Khan assured Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong that his party supported the government over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Expressing good wishes for the completion of the project, the PTI chairman appreciated the CPEC and called it a game changer.

Sun Weidong, on the occasion, said the CPEC was an important part of ‘One Road, One Region Vision’ work on which was rapidly in progress. He said all the provinces of Pakistan would benefit from the corridor. The western highway leading towards Gwadar was also a part of the CPEC, he added. He hoped a new era of development in the regions would start after completion of the mega project.

The CPEC is a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of over 45 billion dollars, intended to rapidly expand and upgrade Pakistani infrastructure, besides deepening and broadening economic links between Islamabad and Beijing.