Pace of CPEC projects: PML-N leaders contradict Chinese diplomat’s statement regarding PTI govt

PML-N leaders continued the blame game against the Imran Khan-led PTI government regarding CPEC projects on the eve of PM Shehbaz Sharif's visit to China.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) central leaders have continued the blame game against the previous Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on the eve of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China which contradicted the Chinese diplomat’s statement regarding the pace of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Yesterday, PML-N central leader and federal railway minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said in a Twitter message that the Imran Khan-led PTI government had shelved CPEC projects.

He added that the cost of ML1 was $6.8 billion while the completion period was fixed for 6 years, but the cost was increased up to $9.8 billion and it is still due to be completed after 9 years. Rafique said that the same is the case with Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project. The federal minister claimed that the PML-N government had to start the projects at the same pace from zero now.

The statement was given at a time when PM Shehbaz Sharif arrived in China to pay a two-day official visit.

On October 31, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal claimed that the PTI government pushed behind CPEC after coming into power in 2018 after levelling baseless allegations against the mega economic project. In result of the rumours and allegations, new projects were not included in the CPEC, he added.

In another statement, Iqbal blamed Imran Khan-led PTI for starting protests at a crucial time when Pakistan and China are going to increase economic engagements.

However, the statements came from the PML-N leaders contradicted the clarification of the Chinese diplomat to Pakistan.

In August, China’s Consul General in Karachi, Mr Li Bijian had rubbished reports that the work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework had slowed down during PTI tenure.

Speaking to a local media outlet, Li Bijian ruled out reports claiming that work on the CPEC, a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), had slowed down over the past three and half a year. “The work was slowed down due to Covid-19 pandemic and security issues. So-called claims that work paused due to the previous govt. policies are baseless”.

He also ruled out any disagreement between Pakistan and the Chinese governments. “China and Pakistan have always shared mutual trust, mutual understanding and mutual support, and are all-weather friends,” Li Bijan said.

“The change in policies affects the investment and the same thing is being seen in CPEC projects,” he said and expressed hope that all persisting issues would be resolved soon. Li Bijian further said that China is working on power projects in Pakistan and termed the security of Chinese officials in the country as satisfactory.

“There were some security issues regarding Chinese officials in two provinces of Pakistan but we are satisfied with the measures taken by federal and provincial govt after recent incidents,” Chinese diplomat concluded.

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