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Multi-party conference on China-Pakistan corridor soon: Mengal

QUETTA: President of his own faction of the Balochistan National Party Akhtar Mengal announced on Sunday that a multi- party conference would be convened in Islamabad soon to discuss reservations of the people of his province about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Addressing a press conference here, he said that elected representatives and the people of Balochistan had several reservations about the CPEC project, adding that those apprehensions must be removed to make the project non-controversial.

He said the BNP-M would invite all political parties to the conference in order to evolve a joint strategy about the mega project.

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The former chief minister of Balochistan said the government had ignored MNAs and MPAs elected from Gwadar as well as senators from the province while signing the agreement on the CPEC and other major projects.

He said memorandums of understanding and agreements regarding implementation of these projects were also signed without taking elected representatives of Balochistan into confidence.

Mr Mengal said the council session of his party held in Quetta last week observed that interests of the people of the port city of Gwadar in the projects were ignored.

He said the rulers, not the BNP-M, would be held responsible for making the CPEC controversial if reservations of the people of Gwadar were not addressed.

In reply to a question, he said representatives of his party had attended the all-party conference presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Quetta but promises made there were not honoured.

The BNP-M chief said that during his visit to Pakistan the Chinese president had announced plans to invest $46 billion on the CPEC and other projects, but the federal government never shared their details with elected representatives or even the government of Balochistan.

He said they were told that around $6bn would be spent on construction of infrastructure and other development projects and remaining $40bn would be the private investment.

“We are not aware where the $40bn will be spent and where trade and industrial zones will be set up. Islamabad must put each and every thing before the people of the province because they think Balochistan is part of Pakistan and not a colony. It is their right to take decisions about prosperity and development of the province.”

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2015