ISLAMABAD - Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif yesterday vowed the security forces were ready to pay any price to turn the long-cherished dream of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into reality.

“We are totally aware of all campaigns against the corridor and our security forces are ready to pay any price to turn this long-cherished dream into reality,” the army chief said during his visit to the headquarters of the newly raised Special Security Division (SSD) for the security of the CPEC.

According to ISPR, General Raheel Sharif stressed coordination of the law-enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to ensure security for the project.

The army chief also reiterated the commitment of Pakistan Army to provide security for the project and the workforce involved, terming it a game changer having the potential to transform lives of people of the country. He also underlined the need to ensure peaceful environment to push all planned development projects.

Earlier, the army chief was given a detailed briefing on the progress of raising the force and wide-ranging security aspects of the project.

On his arrival, General Raheel was received by Lt-Gen Malik Zafar Iqbal and Maj-Gen Abid Rafique.

Pakistan and China are building an economic corridor in line with Chinese President Xi’s vision of ‘One Belt One Road’ to revive the Silk Route linking China’s western part with Pakistan’s deep sea Gwadar port.

The Gilgit-Baltistan government announced on Wednesday to allocate a substantial piece of land to Pakistan Army in Diamer district so that it could set up headquarters and ensure security for CPEC.

According to the officials, the site is situated in Thak Das, a barren piece of land near Chilas, where a brigade will be stationed.

On February 3, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, accompanied by General Raheel, inaugurated Rs 13 billion Gwadar-Turbat-Hoshab Road (M-8), a part of the CPEC.

CONSULTATION STARTS TO REMOVE PROVINCES’ CONCERNS ON CPEC: The Parliamentary Committee has yesterday started consultation process with provinces to remove their concerns about the projects related to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The Parliamentary Committee on CPEC met here under the chairmanship of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed. In the meeting, the projects from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were discussed and the provinces were provided the opportunity to express their reservations about the projects.

Finance Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah was deputed by the Sindh Chief Minister to represent the Sind government and present the perspective of Sind regarding CPEC issues to the Parliamentary Committee on the invitation of Senator Mushahid Hussain when he met the Chief Minister Sindh in Karachi on January 28.

Syed Murad Ali Shah presented the case of the Sindh government for establishing a port at Keti Bandar as a special terminal for the export of coal which would be mined at Thar as well as a rail link and Special Economic Zone to support the proposed port.  The meeting decided that in March, the representatives of the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be invited to present their perspective on CPEC issues. 

The members of the Parliamentary Committee welcomed the presence of the Sindh Minister for Finance and Senator Mushahid Hussain directed the Ministry of Ports and Shipping to have consultation between the experts of the Sindh government to examine the feasibility of this project so that Thar could become the future energy power house of Pakistan.

The Committee also discussed the perspective of Sindh regarding issues of Port Qasim. There are issues of registration of land which is claimed by the Sindh government and which is being utilised for the Port Qasim coal project.

After hearing both sides, Senator Mushahid Hussain directed the Ministry of Water & Power, Ministry of Ports & Shipping and the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources to have substantive and speedy discussions with the government of Sindh to resolve this issue, first at the working level and then the recommendations of the working level meetings would be taken up at higher level under the auspices of Parliamentary Committee. These meetings will be concluded by March.

On the issue of the Sukhi Kenari hydel power project in Kyber Pakhtunkhwa, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee constituted a 2-member sub-committee comprising Senator Lt Gen (Retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi and Senator Shibli Faraz to coordinate both with the provincial and federal government to resolve the issue at the earliest, with meetings scheduled for early March.

The Sindh Finance Minister strongly urged the government to convene a meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) so that outstanding issues and concerns of Sind and the other provinces are discussed and decided at that apex forum. The Sindh Government representatives thanked the Parliamentary Committee for inviting them for their perspective. 

The meeting was attended by Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Port & Shipping Kamran Micheal,

Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Minister for States and Frontier Regions,

Akram Khan Durrani, Minister for Housing and  Works,  Senior Minister for Finance,GB, Ghous Bux Khan Mahar, MNA, Dr Ibadullah, MNA, Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani, MNA, Asad Umar, MNA, Senator Lt. Gen. (Retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi, Senator Shibli Faraz, Senator Talha Mehmood, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Secretary, Water and Power, Secretary Port and Shipping , and Secretary Energy, Sindh.