PTI government to open CPEC, Qatar LNG agreements in parliament, says Senator Shibli Faraz

In this file photo, Chinese trucks stand on a pontoon during the opening of a trade project in Gwadar port, some 700 kms west of the Pakistani city of Karachi on Nov. 13, 2016. (AAMIR QURESHI/AFP)
Updated 18 August 2018

PTI government to open CPEC, Qatar LNG agreements in parliament, says Senator Shibli Faraz

  • CPEC and LNG import agreements are shrouded in ambiguity, says senator
  • Projects review move would jeopardize country’s international standing and credibility, warns Ahsan Iqbal

KARACHI: The most repetitive word in Pakistani discourse which met with international acclamation is “CPEC” (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) but most of the people do not know exactly what they are talking about as the agreements remain shrouded in ambiguity, according to members of the business community and lawmakers.
“The PML-N government did not share the details of the CPEC agreements they signed with China, with parliament and concerned stakeholders,” Senator Syed Shibli Faraz, member of the Senate’s standing committee on planning, development and reforms which is mandated to oversee the CPEC projects, told Arab News.
Senator Faraz, who is representing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf PTI in the Senate of Pakistan, said his government will make all the CPEC agreements public through parliament. “After the formation of the government we will review the projects’ agreement and decide about those which are not in the country’s interest.
“We will honor the agreement but would request friendly countries for ‘further improvement’ to create a win-win situation,” Faraz added.
The PTI, led by cricketer-turn-politician Imran Khan, who has taken over as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, has announced in his election manifesto that he will ensure local Pakistani businesses are fully involved in the implementation of the CPEC project and policy.
Pakistan’s business community has also expressed reservations about the agreement and remains uninformed.
“We are not clear about the CPEC projects because relevant agreements were not shared with us. We cannot do anything at this stage when we lack information,” said Syed Mazhar Ali Nasir, senior vice president of the Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “We are in an unstable and uncomfortable position. What incentives will be offered to existing industries as compared with those being offered for setting up units in Special Economic Zones are some of the ambiguities that need to be clarified.”
However, Ahsan Iqbal, the former planning and development minister who spearheaded the CPEC project, negates the impression that parliament was kept in the dark. “All relevant committees of the National Assembly and Senate were on board. These committees are represented by every political party, including the PTI. I have been answering all their queries about CPEC projects,” Iqbal told Arab News.
As Senator Faraz hinted at a thorough review of CPEC agreements and the liquefied natural gas (LNG) import agreement made with Qatar, Ahsan Iqbal warned against the move.
“If you go for a project review you have signed with any foreign country, the move will jeopardize the country’s international standing and credibility. No country will sign any agreement with you in future,” Iqbal said. “The CPEC is the most scrutinized project in the history of Pakistan because scrutiny of each project was ensured, which rules out the possibility of any secrecy.”
Ahsan Iqbal is confident that “nothing will come out if projects are reviewed because everything is crystal-clear ... If they make the CPEC unnecessarily controversial it will hurt investors’ confidence,” he said.
Energy projects were set up under the country’s energy policy, which was open for all investors including the US, the Middle East, etc, but only the Chinese made use of this opportunity, Iqbal said.
The government will not be extending loans on the energy project, while those in the infrastructure sector will be extended at a rate of 2.2 percent and payable in 20 to 25 years, which means there is no burden on the country, Iqbal noted.
However, the PTI election manifesto ensures the completion of the CPEC by encouraging a shift toward partnerships for project completion. “We will utilize expertise from China to supplement domestic manufacturing capabilities and enhance yields in agriculture. We will create more opportunities to promote local value addition through joint ventures and by offering incentives for value-added exports,” the party’s election manifesto reads.
Most commonly referred to as the game changer, the CPEC is a framework of regional connectivity.
The investment made under the CPEC umbrella is estimated at $62 billion, mainly in energy and infrastructure projects in progress throughout Pakistan.

Pakistanis among dead in Madinah bus accident

Updated 17 October 2019

Pakistanis among dead in Madinah bus accident

  • The crash took place when a privately chartered bus carrying 39 pilgrims collided with a loader
  • Reports indicate only four bus passengers survived the tragedy, some in critical condition

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Thursday expressed profound grief and sorrow over the tragic road accident that claimed the lives of 35 pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.

According to media reports, the accident happened when a privately chartered bus carrying 39 passengers collided with a loader near Madinah at about 7pm on Wednesday.

Pakistan’s foreign office confirmed in a press statement that “the deceased also include a certain number of Pakistani nationals.”

“Of the four survivors,” the handout continued, “there is one Pakistani named Mr. Akbar, who is seriously injured. The Pakistan Consulate General in Jeddah has established contact with him and is in touch with the concerned Saudi authorities and staff of the King Fahad Hospital, Madinah, to ascertain details of casualties of Pakistani nationals.”

Reacting to the development, the foreign minister said his ministry was in touch with the Saudi authorities to ascertain the causes of the accident.

“Our diplomatic mission is in contact with the Saudi authorities to ensure that the injured get the best medical facilities and the bodies of the deceased are smoothly flown back to Pakistan,” Qureshi added.