China would provide $5.5 billion concessional loan to Pakistan for upgradation and dualization of Pakistan Railways main line track from Karachi to Torkham at a cost of $8 billion. Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Ahsan Iqbal stated this during a briefing of Parliamentary Committee on his recent visit to China, along with the Railways Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, where the decision was taken for up-gradation and dualization of the Pakistan Railways main line track from Karachi to Torkham, at a cost of $8 billion, of which $5.5 billion would be a concessional loan from China.
The parliamentary committee on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that met on Wednesday with Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed in the chair, was given a detailed briefing by Ahsan Iqbal. He informed the committee that the Joint Co-ordination Committee (JCC), which is the apex body for CPEC, will hold its 6th meeting in Beijing on November 28-29, 2016. Before that meeting, the Joint Working Groups will be held during the early part of November, he said.
He also announced that five joint Pakistan-China workshops will be arranged to learn from the Chinese experience in urban and rural development, poverty alleviation and industrial parks. Ahsan Iqbal said that as per the directions of the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC, all the provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan would be invited to the JCC meeting in Beijing.
Senator Mushahid Hussain appreciated this initiative of Ahsan Iqbal to hold workshops and include the provinces in the JCC meeting, as he said the CPEC should move forward with full consensus, transparency and inclusive development particularly that of less developed areas like Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan’. He also said that Gilgit-Baltistan was being fully included in CPEC through Eco-friendly economic projects in different areas. He said a regional grid for G-B was being established, plus a plan for tourism on Attabad lake, Khunjerab-Islamabad fibre optic cable, initiative for mining of minerals, Hydel projects, up-gradation of KKH highway, establishing an Engineering University and a Medical College.
He said every province would have a special industrial zone under CPEC. Senator Shibli Faraz asked some CPEC-related written questions from Ahsan Iqbal, to which he said the answers would be provided by November 1. Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Hafiz Hafeezur Rahman, who attended on special invitation, thanked the Parliamentary Committee for including Gilgit-Baltistan in all its deliberations. He said Gilgit-Baltistan had potential to generate over 30,000 megawatts of electricity, which should be harnessed.
The National Highway Authority (NHA) Chairman briefed the Parliamentary Committee on progress towards the construction of the Western route of the CPEC, which he explained with detailed maps and statistics, that the policy guidelines of the APC of May 28, 2015 and January 15, 2016, were being fully implemented. He also assured that the Western route was being given priority and it be completed by August 2018. Secretary, Water and Power, briefed the committee on the national data transmission lines, and the Parliamentary Committee directed the NTDC to provide details of new transmission projects, with their respective locations and timelines of completion, as well as their capacity to transmit electricity, at the next meeting.
The meeting was attended by Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Aftab Sherpao, Senator Shibli Faraz, Senator SalahuddinTirmizi, Shahji Gul Afridi, Senator Talha Mahmood, Senator Hasil Bizenjo, Rana Afzal, Ghous Bux Mehar, Ejaz Jhakhrani and Lieutenant General Abdul Qadir Baloch (R). Special Secretary of the National Assembly, Qamar Sohail Lodhi, and Secretary of the of Parliamentary Committee, Khalid Mahmood, were also present.