ISLAMABAD -  A number of senators primarily from Balochistan expressed their serious concerns over “lack of transparency” in the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, in the Senate on Friday.

They also expressed concerns over Pakistan’s profit share in the free trade agreements (FTAs).

Senator Mian Atiq from the MQM moved an adjournment motion, which also raised concerns that China was not utilising various economic concessions granted to it by Pakistan. This was followed by an intense discussion in the House.

Atiq further said that Pakistan's value-added exports had not benefited under the FTA agreements and there were concerns regarding the promotion of local industry.

He proposed that the FTAs should be revived keeping in view the interest of the country.

Senator Usman Kakar said that before signing trade agreement with any country, the government should get its approval from the parliament.

He said that the agreements should be signed keeping in view the interest of our industries.

Mohsin Leghari said Pakistan should renegotiate the FTA with China with the aim to promote its agriculture products to the country.

He said that Pakistan should seek from China reduction in tariff on agro-based products.

Lawmakers also voiced concerns that information regarding the project was being withheld.

They also asked what Balochistan stood to gain from the project.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani subsequently asked who in parliament was withholding requested information and summoned all records pertaining to the matter.  "China has arrived in Gwadar and almost all the business conducted in Pakistan is being undertaken by China," PML-N Senator Kulsoom Parveen said.

"What progress has Gwadar seen under [the] CPEC, so far?" she asked.

"The people of Balochistan have not gained anything from the project."

"Maybe the people of Balochistan will only be given jobs to fix punctured tires," she said.

Parveen emphasised the need for promoting and supporting the domestic industries in order to address our economic woes. Senator Azam Musakhel was of the view that the "CPEC will not be successful."

"What benefits have the people of Balochistan gained from the project?" the senator asked, echoing Senator Parveen's concerns.

PPP's Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the business community had sought inclusion in the formulation of agreements with China. However, they were not accommodated, he regretted.

Babar said that the CPEC was an important project and the toll tax to be generated under the corridor project should fairly be distributed among the federating units. He also called for transparency in security arrangements for the CPEC, pointing out that "pieces of information regarding the project have been withheld." "We were told that there is a long-term plan but it cannot be shared," Babar added.

Earlier, Minister for Maritimes Affairs Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo informed the House that China was developing Gwadar port on built operate and transfer basis and after 40 years, China would transfer ownership of the port to Pakistan. Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Shaikh Aftab Ahmed moved before the House, "The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2017". The chair referred the bill to the standing committee concerned. The house was adjourned to meet again on Monday at 4pm.