QUETTA: Pakistan’s Balochistan High Court (BHC) has directed the government to submit the details of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Project’s contribution in Balochistan, the deprived most province of the country.
The high court has summoned the secretary of CPEC Authority in person on the next date of hearing on a petition requesting the provision of jobs for the people of the province through the project.
The BHC also summoned the Attorney General of Pakistan, the country’s top law officer, in person on the next date of hearing on a petition which also sought the details of Chinese investment made under the project in the Balochistan province as well as the details of Balochistan’s percentage in a total investment of Pakistan are sought.
Chief Justice of BHC Jamal Khan Mandokhail will take up the matter for hearing on June 22 along with another clubbed petition wherein the appointment of Asim Saleem Bajwa on the post of Chairman CPEC Authority has been challenged.
On June 3, a divisional bench headed by the chief justice and comprising Justice Muhammad Kamran Khan Mulakhel heard the case.
“The Secretary (CPEC) Authority should appear in-person and submit a progress report and comprehensive reply to the queries raised in this petition,” the BHC ruled in its short order.
“Since very important and substantial issues have been raised through this petition, therefore the Attorney General of Pakistan is directed to appear in person on the next date of hearing and to assist the court,” ruled the BHC in its order.
“The learned Advocate General Balochistan should also submit a comprehensive report and steps so far taken by the Provincial Government in the CPEC related project particularly pertaining to the Province of Balochistan,” the court further ruled.
The top court also directed the provincial government of Balochistan to apprise the court of whether local tax laws are applicable on CPEC projects.
“The learned AAG should also apprise the Court as to whether the local tax laws are applicable to the CPEC project or otherwise?”
“The learned counsel for the NHA (National Highway Authority) should also apprise the court as to how many projects of NHA under the CPEC have been started and what are the other future plans,” the short order ruled.
“The Chairman Gawadar Port Authority should also appear in persons and submit a report with regard to the activities of the port under the CPEC project,” stated the order, further ruling, “The Chairman CPEC Authority and the Provincial Government should also apprise the court with regards to one of the most important issue of drinking water in Gawadar and its resolution.”
The petition is filed by Munir Ahmed Kakar, who is a Member of the Balochistan Bar Council and presently he is Vice Chairman Balochistan Bar Council and a member of Judicial Commission of Pakistan — a forum that appoints and elevates judges in superior courts.
The Balochistan Bar Council is a statutory body representing the lawyers’ community and presently near about 6000 advocates are enrolled with the Balochistan Bar Council and the petitioner is an elected member from Group-IV consisting of 9 districts including Chaman, Pishin, Killa Saifullah, Zhob, Musa Khail, Sherani, Loralai, Barkhan, Dukki, Ziarat.
The inhabitants of Balochistan have no resources, other than agriculture and livestock and the same have been destroyed due to the acute drought of the last two decades badly affecting the province of Balochistan.
“There is no opportunity like industry or any other institution to provide jobs to the most of the localities of these areas, as such most of the areas of the Balochistan are backward areas compared to the other sister provinces of Pakistan, even there are areas in the Balochistan where the basic facilities which are guaranteed in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 to be provided by the State to every common man, irrespective of his province,” the petition stated, adding, “These facilities include roads, clean water, health facilities, education, transportation, electricity, sources to earn food for livelihood etc.”
“Since the announcement of the Pakistan China Economic Corridor, hope has arisen for bright future of people of Balochistan, as CPEC is a project/program the main hub of the program is situated in Gawadar Balochistan. As Gawadar port known as “East Bay Expressway Gawadar” port is to be made functional and utilized not only by China but also by other countries including the neighbour Islamic country Afghanistan which is the landlocked country,” the petition contended.
“The first cooperation committee meeting of the CPEC was held between the leaders of the two countries Pakistan and China on 27-08-2013 and since then the number of meetings of cooperation committee has been held for promoting and developing CPEC,” the petition maintained.
“Besides “East Bay Expressway Gawadar Port” there are number of other project / development programs in CPEC, which include construction of roads, establishment of industrial parks / zone, construction of transport infrastructure, rail based mass transit system in provincial headquarters, new Gawadar International Airport, Gwadar expansion of multipurpose terminal, Gawadar water supply project, social sector development in Gawadar region, livelihood projects to improve the standard of livelihood of the local population of Gawadar by up gradation and development of existing fishing and boat making industry clusters, further by providing training of the local people as skilled fisherman, establishment of ship yard to provide maintenance services with economic costs, micro finance facility for equipment and fishing boats, fish processing plant complying with international standards, cold storage facilities and fish meal processing to increase fish exports, adding 100 beds to the Gawadar hospital, establishing of vocational and technical institute at Gawadar, construction of new Gawadar international airport, Quetta water supply scheme from Pat feeder, canal project, Balochistan, creating new job opportunities, providing visit opportunity and training to the people of province at China,” it further added.
“The construction of roads in Balochistan is so essential that during last one year on Quetta to Karachi road which was constructed by N.H.A for more than 25 years ago, the Quetta Zhob road was constructed a decade ago, the above two roads are in the worst condition, during last one year about 8000 people have died due to road accidents on Quetta Karachi road, whereas on Quetta to Zhob road more than 2500 people have died due to road accidents, even a few days ago in an unfortunate road accident five young students of one family died due to road accident on Quetta to Zhob road.”
It is worth mentioning that there are about 17 motorways all over Pakistan, out of which 12 motorways have been completed. These motorways include 155 km long
M1 Peshawar to Islamabad — completed in 2007, 334 km long M2 Islamabad to Lahore — completed in 1997, 230 km long M3 Lahore to Abdul Hakeem — completed in 2019, 309 km long M4 Pindi Batian to Multan — completed in 2019, 392 km long M5 Multan to Sukkur — completed in 2019, 136 km long M9 Hyderabad to Karachi – completed in 2018, 57 km long M10 Karachi northern bypass — completed in 2007, 135km long M11 Sialkot to Lahore — completed in 2020, 280 km long M14 Hakla to D.I Khan — completed in 2020, 180 km long M15 Hasanabdal to Takot — completed in 2020.
The 296 km long motorway M06 Sukkur to Hyderabad would be completed in 2023 while 160 km long Swat Motorway M16 would be completed this year and 50 km long Motorway M17 from Peshawar to Torkham, Afghanistan border is proposed.
“It is unfortunate to mention here that the national highway, as well as the Federal government, are treating Balochistan discriminatorily since 2007 in last 13 years no motorway has been constructed or proposed for Balochistan even though Balochistan is 43 % of Pakistan, it is the most backward province of Pakistan, thus several motorways should have been constructed in Balochistan for its progress and keeping equal pace with other sister provinces. But so far Balochistan has not been given its share in the construction of motorways,” the petition added.
“It is observed with great concern that despite already construction of several motorways in the sister province Punjab, the National Highway Authority tendered a new motorway, Sialkot-Kharian-Rawalpindi, which is sheer violation of the Article 25 of the constitution.”
“As a matter of fact while commencing and completing the CPEC projects/programs, most of the projects have been commenced in other provinces of Pakistan, and unfortunately the most backward deserving province of Pakistan i-e Balochistan has been treated discriminatorily. The details of most of the projects of CPEC are not provided or available to the common man of the province of Balochistan. However, as per the knowledge of the petitioner, most of the CPEC projects of Balochistan province have either not been commenced or if commenced delayed for the reasons not known.”
“Some of the CPEC projects i-e “ Quetta Mass transit System” being rail-based mass transit system of provincial headquarter Balochistan, Nawkundi-Mashkheil-Punjgur road project connecting with M-8 and N-85, D.I Khan – Zhob highway project, Bostan industrial zone and the projects discussed in para Supra, either no progress has been made or even not yet commenced, which shows the discriminatory treatment with the people of the province of Balochistan, as commencement and completion of CPEC projects of Balochistan would not only bring socio-economic changes in the lives of the people of Balochistan, rather would bring a great change in the progress and development of Pakistan. It would also provide a safe travelling facility to the people of the province.”
“As per the statement of H.E Mr Yao Jing the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Pakistan, 22 projects of CPEC are under construction or completed with a total investment of over US 19 billion dollars, creating 70000 direct job opportunities. But no detail as to how many projects have been completed in the province of Balochistan, or how many job opportunities were provided to the most deserving backward people of the province of Balochistan are available to the people of Balochistan.”
“There is no detail with regard to CPEC road projects, as to when the road projects of Balochistan would be commenced? How many roads would be constructed? How many job opportunities have been created? How many people of the province have been employed? How many people of the province have been sent to China for vocational training? How many other projects of the CPEC would be commenced and when would be commenced relating to the province of Balochistan? When the rail transit with regard to the capital of Balochistan i-e Quetta would be commenced? When the industrial zones / commercial parks of CPEC with regard to Balochistan would be established? Even no other details with regard to the CPEC project are provided, which required to be provided to the people of Balochistan for their convenience.”
The petitioner requested the BHC to issue directions for the provision of details of investment made under the Federal Public Sector Development Programme in Balochistan since 2013 and Balochistan’s percentage share in total investment in Pakistan.
It is further requested to issue direction for the provision of the details of the western CPEC route in Balochistan, and details as to how much progress has been made on such project and when would the same be completed.
It is further prayed to issue directions for provisions of the details of Bostan special economic zone and details of ML-1 project and reasons for excluding the province of Balochistan. The petition requested the court to issue directions for the provision of the complete detail of CPEC projects including road projects commenced, completed, and in-progress anywhere in Pakistan, and the details of the same in monetary terms.