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Head of a Pakistani parliamentary panel has cautioned the government against allowing Chinese trucks to ply along the strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) without getting “something” in return. “We are giving roads, land and the entire route to Chinese trucks as they were utilised by Nato (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), but on what terms and conditions,” chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Planning and Development Abdul Majeed Khan Khanan Khail said. While presiding over a meeting of the committee yesterday, Khail asked what China would give Pakistan for using the USD 46 billion corridor for trade.
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“Something would have been decided definitely,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper. Expressing concern over the safety of roads and their users, he wondered who would bear the cost of maintenance of roads and security on the corridor. The CPEC, a mega network of roads, rail links, power plants and other infrastructure connecting western China’s Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s southern port of Gwadar.
In November last year, China started operating the Gwadar Port which is now connected with northwest China’s Xinjiang region. Chinese trucks loaded with goods manufactured in China are brought to Gwadar Port for export to the Middle East and other destinations. Media reports suggested that Nato logistics had badly damaged Pakistan’s road network, but the country could not get any significant benefit from these supplies to Afghanistan.
Former chairman of the National Highway Authority (NHA) Mohammad Ali Gardezi told the Public Accounts Committee in May 2012 that the country had suffered a loss of Rs100 billion due to Nato supplies to Afghanistan via Pakistan, but not a single penny was paid to it for repairing the damaged highways. In reply to a question during the standing committee meeting, the secretary for planning and development said: “Although it is a big challenge for the government, we will safeguard our interests.”
The secretary did not define who would bear the cost of maintenance of roads but said the cost of security arrangements on the CPEC would be borne by the Pakistan government. He said that whatever arrangements to be made for maintenance of the corridor and security would be mutually decided by Pakistan and China.
“The recently held 6th Pak-China Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting in Beijing has addressed almost all such concerns,” he added. The secretary said 10,000 military personnel had been deployed for the security of projects launched under the CPEC and people working on them.
“In fact security is our job for which it has been decided that one per cent of (earning from) CPEC projects will be spent on security,” he said.