CPEC in trouble? Following reports of corruption, China has decided to temporarily put a stop to the funding of at least three major road projects being built as part of the ambitious USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Islamabad is reportedly “stunned” by the Chinese decision. The Chinese government’s decision is believed to impact over 1 trillion Pakistani rupees worth of road projects undertaken by the National Highway Authority (NHA).
Road projects to be affected by the Chinese decision include a) 210-km-long Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob Road, under construction at an
estimated cost of Rs 81 billion. Of this, Rs 66 billion would be spent on construction of road while Rs 15 billion on land acquisition, according to PTI. b) 110-km-long Khuzdar-Basima Road, being built at a cost of Rs 19.76 billion. c) Worth Rs 8.5 billion, the remaining 136-km of Karakoram Highway (KKH) from Raikot to Thakot.
In an editorial on Wednesday, Pakistani newspaper Dawn noted: “There are growing indications that things are not going as well with CPEC as we are being told.” It said that news has trickled from the seventh round of the Joint Cooperation Council of both countries that Pakistan has “suffered setbacks”. According to Dawn, on Diamer-Bhasha dam project, which is the most recent addition to a number of projects being considered under CPEC project, the Chinese authorities’ terms and conditions on funding have not gone down well with Pakistani authorities.
A report by the Pakistani daily on Tuesday said that China stopped temporarily funding till “new guidelines are issued by Beijing.”
An official told Dawn that while Pakistan was “stunned” with Chinese decision, Beijing “was quite disturbed with increasing news reports being published in Pakistan regarding corruption in CPEC projects and that was the reason China has temporarily halted the release of funds for the corridor.”
Dawn noted today, “The only antidote to the growing difficulties the government appears to be running into is greater transparency, which is becoming more urgent with the passage of time.”
Meanwhile, The Express Tribune today reported Federal Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal as saying, “However, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is opening up a new horizon of development to the world and it is a matter of great pleasure that massive investments under CPEC are further strengthening Pak-China friendship.”