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Monday, April 20, 2015

Kashghar-Gwadar trade route: KP Assembly passes unanimous resolution against proposed changes

The Express Tribune HOME During his visit to Pakistan, China’s president will discuss a raft of energy and infrastructure deals as part of wider ambitions to open new trade and transport routes across Asia. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan had already generated a sense of nervous anticipation. Originally expected to come in September last year, Xi’s visit was postponed in the wake of prolonged anti-government protests in Islamabad, with the government not want anything untoward happening this time round. As well as signing a raft of energy, trade and investment agreements, the Chinese president will inaugurate Balochistan’s Gwadar port, which is part of the 3,000 kilometre-long strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which could radically alter the regional dynamics of trade, development and politics. Gwadar, once a part of Oman before it was sold to Pakistan in 1958, is one of the least developed districts in Balochistan province. It sits strategically near the Persian Gulf and close to the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of the world’s oil passes. The construction and operation of this multi-billion dollar deep-sea port at Gwadar was contracted to a Chinese company in 2013 and some analysts argue that the port could turn into China’s naval base in the Indian Ocean, enabling Beijing to monitor Indian and American naval activities. Establishment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was first proposed by Chinese premier Li Keqiang during his visit to Pakistan in May 2013. “Our two sides should focus on carrying out priority projects in connectivity, energy development and power generation,” Li said at the time. Source: SCMP Source: SCMP Pakistan’s strong ties with China may mean the initiative succeeds where other regional energy projects have become mired in security problems and political disagreements, says Vaqar Zakaria, energy sector expert and managing director of environmental consultancy firm Hagler Bailley Pakistan. “The Pak-Iran pipeline is on hold, the World Bank-backed Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project has to contend with security issues relating to the passageway through Afghanistan, and importing power from India has to wait for core issues between the two countries to resolve,” he said. Energy-poor Pakistan certainly seems to have found a saviour in China, which has promised to stand by the country in its dark hour (parts of the country suffer power cuts for up to 18 hours a day). So overwhelmed is President Mamnoon Hussain that he has predicted the economic corridor will be a “monument of the century” benefitting “billions of people” in the region. Zakaria believes projects conceived under CPEC will ease Pakistan’s energy shortages and make a “substantial difference in the long term with both generation and transmission covered.” However, coal figures prominently and Chinese money is “timely and useful” for cash-strapped Pakistan struggling to finance energy projects from western donors. The CPEC project will include building new roads, an 1,800-kilometre railway line and a network of oil pipelines to connect Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region to the port of Gwadar. The project also includes an airport at the port and a string of energy projects, special economic zones, dry ports and other infrastructure. The estimated cost is expected to be US$75 billion, out of which US$45 billion will ensure that the corridor becomes operational by 2020. The remaining investment will be spent on energy generation and infrastructure development. China’s new silk roads While the trade and energy corridor may be ‘monumental’ for Pakistan, for China it is part of more ambitious plans to beef up the country’s global economic muscle. Chinese officials describe the corridor as the “flagship project” of a broader policy — “One Belt, One Road” — which seeks to physically connect China to its markets in Asia, Europe and beyond. This initiative includes the New Silk Road which will link China with Europe through Central Asia and the Maritime Silk Road to ensure a safe passage of China’s shipping through the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. “China is not building the corridor as an act of charity for Pakistan,” says Michael Kugelman, a senior associate at the Washington DC based Woodrow Wilson Center. “It will happily fund and build any structure that plays into this goal – whether we’re talking about roads or ports.” Some experts argue this initiative can bring greater cohesion in South Asia, one of the world’s least economically integrated regions. Adil Najam, Dean of the Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies, believes anything that binds the region together is “a good idea” since countries tend to focus on “zero-sum geostrategic posturing” rather than recognising the benefits of integration. India, US worried At the same time, the new silk roads are bound to intensify ongoing competition between India and China –and to a lesser extent between China and the US – to invest in and cultivate influence in the broader Central Asian region, says Kugelman. “India has long had its eyes on energy assets in Central Asia and Afghanistan, even as China has gobbled many of these up in recent years. The US has announced its own Silk Road initiative in the broader region,” he said. India is concerned about China’s growing investment in Pakistan, particularly its recent decision to fund a new batch of nuclear reactors. Pakistan plans to add four new nuclear plants by 2023, funded by China, with four more reactors in the pipeline (adding up to a total power capacity of 7,930 MW by 2030). Many argue that China is supplying nuclear technology to Pakistan in defiance of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines, which forbid nuclear transfer to Pakistan as it has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. China argues that these projects were agreed with Pakistan before it became a member of NSG in 2004. Conflict in Balochistan However, the economic corridor is unlikely to be successful unless there is peace in Gwadar, a district embroiled in conflict. Militant groups opposed to foreign-funded investments are active in the region, with some of them also having attacked Chinese engineers working on the port. This is one reason given by experts for the change of route to pass mostly through Punjab, thereby avoiding some of the country’s most strife-torn areas in the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and much to the chagrin of local legislators. At the same time, China has concerns about the growing influence of radical religious groups in Pakistan in its own province of Xinjiang, which has a significant majority of Uighur Muslims. For now, the Pakistani military plans to train over 12,000 security personnel and form a “special division” to provide security to Chinese personnel working on the economic corridor. Some 8,000 security personnel have already been set out to protect over 8,100 Chinese personnel working on 210 projects across Pakistan. This article was first published in thethirdpole.net TribuneTrade corridor tops Chinese investment bonanza Beijing, Islamabad sign 50-plus agreements worth $28 billion. PHOTO: REUTERSBeijing, Islamabad sign 50-plus agreements worth $28 billion. PHOTO: REUTERS ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China on Monday signed more than 50 agreements worth $28 billion, mostly covering commercial loans to Pakistani power generation companies, but also including financing agreements for six infrastructure projects that will set in motion work on the eastern trade corridor connecting western China with Gwadar that Beijing wants to see operational before the end of next year. A total of 53 agreements were signed between the two countries, covering a wide range of areas of cooperation. The bulk of the money — $22 billion out of the total $28 billion — would be commercial loans from Chinese banks to Pakistani power generation companies, almost all of them privately owned. The bulk of the money will go to pay Chinese contractors selling equipment for coal-fired power generation units to Pakistani utilities. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. There are 22 government-to-government agreements that include deals on cultural exchanges, heritage preservation and communications. Another 31 agreements involve the private sector, with the vast majority in the energy sector, according to the Planning Ministry. Of the $6 billion to be spent on non-energy infrastructure, just over $4 billion will go towards filling the gaps in the Eastern Trade Route that will link the hinterlands of western China to Gwadar port. All of the projects will be financed with Chinese loans, offered at concessionary rates. It is unclear how much of the financing will come from the newly created Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, headquartered in and mainly financed by Beijing. Among the transportation infrastructure projects are the $930 million expansion of the Karakoram Highway from Havelian to Thakot, the $260 million funding for the Multan-Sukkur section of the Karachi-Lahore motorway, $136 million for the Gwadar Port East Bay Expressway Project, and $230 million for Gwadar International Airport. The four projects will be critical in meeting the September 2016 deadline set by Beijing to make the Eastern Route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor operational. The Eastern Route passes through Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Islamabad, Punjab, and Sindh and will link to Gwadar port through the East Bay Expressway along the Makran coastline. This route cuts out the restive areas of Balochistan and K-P, and is aimed at ensuring security for Chinese convoys. Balochistan and the rest of K-P will be included in the Western Route, to be built in the future. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor portfolio is a $45 billion agreement between Islamabad and Beijing to help develop transportation and energy infrastructure in Pakistan in exchange for access to Gwadar port for the economically disadvantaged areas of western China. “The corridor will link Kashghar in Western China with the deep sea port in Gwadar through a mesh of communication networks comprising a world-class seaport, commercial sea lanes, an airport, highways, railways, fibre optic cables as well as oil and gas pipelines,” said Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal. Energy projects The financing agreements in the energy sector, worth approximately $22 billion, will help add the capacity to generate 8,370 megawatts of electricity, mostly in coal-fired electricity, though some will also be hydroelectric power. The projects to be financed under those agreements include a 1,000MW solar power project, the $1.8 billion 870MW Suki Kanari hydroelectric power project in K-P, the $1.5 billion 720MW Karot hydroelectric power project in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, and three wind power projects in Thatta collectively expected to generate 200MW. In addition, the government is expecting to use the Chinese financing agreements to make a major push for coal-fired power in Pakistan. The coal projects for which agreements were signed include a $1.8 billion 1,320 MW coal-fired power plant at Port Qasim, and a $900 million coalmine in Thar Block II, expected to generate 3.8 metric tons of coal, along with a $1.9 billion 660MW mine-mouth coal-fired power plant. Other agreements A commercial contract and agreement on the financing to build Lahore’s Orange Line Metro Train, at a cost of $1.6 billion, was also signed by both sides. Other agreements signed include those for provision of material for Tackling Climate Change, pro bono projects in the Port of Gwadar region, establishment of a joint Cotton Bio-Tech Laboratory, establishment of a joint Marine Research Center, Triple Party Agreement between China Central Television, PTV and Pakistan Television Foundation on the rebroadcasting of CCTV-NEWS/CCTV-9 documentaries in Pakistan. In addition, the two governments agreed to establish sister-city relationships between Chengdu (Sichuan province) and Lahore, Zhuhai (Guangdong province) and Gwadar, and Karamay (Xianjian Ugur province) and Gwadar. An agreement to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal at Gwadar and the Gwadar-Nawabshah LNG pipeline was also signed but financing details have yet to be sorted out. A financing agreement in implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor between the China Development Corporation and Habib Bank and a cooperation agreement between the Wapda and China Three Gorges Corporation were also inked. A facility operating agreement for Dawood Wind Power project between the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and PCC of China and HDPPL. Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2015. 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Unless otherwise stated, all content is copyrighted © 2015 The Express Tribune News Network. Technical feedback? webmaster@tribune.com.pk The Express Tribune The Express Tribune The Express Tribune --•- Kashghar-Gwadar trade route: KP Assembly passes unanimous resolution against proposed changes APP February 07, 2015 PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly with Speaker Asad Qaisar in the chair on Friday unanimously adopted a resolution against proposed changes in the trade route of Kashghar to Gwadar project and urged the federal government to maintain the same route as agreed upon between governments of Pakistan and China. The resolution was jointly moved by Qaumi Watan Party parliamentary leader Sikandar Hayat Khan Sherpao, Awami National Party parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz parliamentary leader Sardar Aurengzeb Nalota, Pakistan People Party parliamentary leader Muhammad Ali Shah Bacha, Provincial Ministers Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani and Shah Farman, Mufti Fazal Ghafoor of JUI-F and Malik Behram Khan of Jamat-e-Islami. The resolution read out by the movers stated that the federal government should avoid making alterations in the trade route of this mega project. It said that the governments of Pakistan and China have agreed to the trade route to be constructed starting from Kashgar (China) to Gwadar via Silk route to Abbotabad, Mianwali, Dera Ismail Khan, Zhob and Gwadar. The project would prove helpful in ameliorating lot of the backward areas of KP, Punjab and FATA, which are terrorism-stricken and affected by massive population. The federal government is, therefore, requested to maintain the same alignment for the route as agreed upon by both the countries. If any changes were made, it would be very injustice with the KP and FATA, the resolution concluded. Taking the floor, Sikandar Sherpao said, “It is an important project which would have lasting impact on the socioeconomic lives of the people of KP and Fata. The project would benefit three billion population of the region besides adding 100 million dollars to the national kitty and generating 20,000MW electricity.” The project would also reduce the distance by 1,200 kilometres, he added. Sardar Hussain Babak of ANP in his address on the occasion said that their party would support the PTI if Imran Khan staged a sit-in against changes in the trade route in Peshawar. Provincial Minister Shah Farman said that it would be great injustice with the people of KP if any change were incorporated in the proposed trade route. He maintained that it is time for maintaining harmony and national cohesion instead of opening a new Pandora box. He urged the federal government to review its decision to this effect. KP Assembly on Friday also passed a unanimous resolution demanding conferring of Hilal-e-Istiqlal on the people of the province for exhibiting bravery and valour in the war against terrorism. The joint resolution of the treasury and opposition benches, carrying the signatures of MPAs Sardar Hussain Babak, Syed Mohammad Ali Shah Bacha, Malik Behram Khan, Sikandar Hayat Sherpao and Shahram Khan Tarakai, was read out by Provincial Minister for Information Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani. The resolution said that as the residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for last several years are in grip of deadly and wild terrorism, the bravery exhibited by them during this ongoing war against terrorism has no precedent. The provincial assembly of the province in recognition of the magnitude of the bravery and patience shown by the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in combating terrorism, its victims, and for expressing sympathies and encouragement feels for demanding conferring of civil award on them. Therefore, the provincial assembly strongly demands from the federal government that on the pattern of the awarding Hilal-e-Istiqlal on the people of Sialkot, Sargodah and Lahore for exhibiting bravery and valour during Pak-India war of 1965, the conferring of such award on the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for exhibiting patience, bravery and valour in the war against terrorism. Speaker Asad Qaiser put the resolution to vote and the house adopted it unanimously. Meanwhile, the splinter group of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in the provincial assembly on Friday strongly criticised the PTI-led coalition government accusing them of using unfair means in the provision of jobs to the needy persons. Talking to mediamen in front of the ssembly building after the session, PTI MPAs Mehmood Jan and Qurban Ali Khan, leaders of PTI forward bloc, alleged that Adviser to Chief Minister for Prisons Malik Qasim Khan massively violated the recruitment policy and appointed 780 Class-IV employees in his department without any merit and obtained commission on every appointment he made. They further said that Adviser to Chief Minister for Environment Ishtiaq Urmur has also made illegal appointments in his department as well as in his constituency. They said that chief executives of Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Medical Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex have made low cadre appointments without any merit in their respective health institutions. They said that they would take up the matter with PTI chief Imran Khan and would also submit an application to this effect in Right to Information Office for necessary action. They also criticised Speaker Asad Qaiser for not giving them chance to speak on the subject matter on the floor of the assembly. =================== QUETTA: (Dunya News) – A motion in Balochistan Assembly has been moved on Saturday against alleged changes in the Gwadar-Kashghar economic route. The motion was moved by Zimrak Khan of Awami National Party (ANP) and Nasrullah Zehri of Pakhtunkhawa – Milli Awami Party (PK-MAP). Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Malik Baloch told on this occasion that Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal will brief the house on 6th of May regarding this issue, reported Dunya News. Balochistan Assembly was presided over by Speaker Jan Muhammad Jamali and a number of issues were taken up on this occasion. The session started off with prayers for the laborers who died in Turbat, security forces officials who died in Meekhtar and former minister Nasir Jamali. One-minute silence was observed for the death of MPA Ghansham Das. Heated debate was observed on death of 5 children in Qila Saifullah off anti-measles vaccination and allotment of plots in Gwadar. On the issue of allotment of plots in Gwadar, Abdul Malik Baloch said that he will brief the house on this issue on May 5. CM Balochistan assured the house that he would personally inform the members of the assembly and the people of Balochistan on Reko Diq and the project will go exactly according to the wishes of the people and representatives of Balochistan. Assembly’s session was then postponed till April 21 4 pm. =============

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