Pakistan and China have decided to expand the multi-billion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the Imran Khan government decided to take up at least three major road projects for inclusion in the corridor that passes through PoK.
These projects will be firmed up in the forthcoming Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on CPEC, ET has reliably gathered. Pakistan Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives Asad Umar recently presided over a consultative meeting to review the preparations for the upcoming 10th JCC meeting on CPEC.
The three projects will include a framework agreement for the construction of a western route road project under the mega corridor. The 210km-long route lies on the western route of CPEC and has been declared as the highest priority scheme by both countries. The other two road projects are Swat Express Way Phase-II and Peshawar-D.I Khan Motorway.
Other deliverables for the 10th JCC could be ground breaking ceremony of the Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and realignment of the Karakoram Highway-II project could, according to Pakistani media.
Under CPEC Pakistan also wants to enhance business-to-business linkages between China and Pakistan; facilitate increased investment from Chinese enterprises, enhance industrial competitiveness of business in Pakistan; through technology transfer, managerial and industrial practices and skills transfer. The Pakistani government has also approved a $7.2bn upgrade to a railway which will connect Gwadar Port to Kashgar, China.
But there is an increase in pushback against CPEC. This week a Baloch resistance group recently launched an attack on a convoy of oil and gas workers escorted by paramilitary troops southwestern province of the restive Baluchistan region through which CPEC passes. The attack killed 14 people, including seven soldiers. State-run Oil & Gas Development Company Ltd (OGDCL) workers in Ormara town in Gwadar district became the target of the attack. Baloch groups are targeting CPEC projects at regular intervals.