From the Chairman's Desk

It is my great pleasure to present the first quarterly report of the Parliamentary Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) before both houses of the Parliament of Pakistan. The Committee was constituted following a consensus of all major political parties, represented in the Parliament of Pakistan at the All Parties Conference convened at the Prime Minister's House on May 28, 2015.  The Committee has 21 members, 14 from the National Assembly and 7 Senators. The overwhelming majority, 17 members belong to the smaller provinces of Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Sind as well as FATA.

It is appropriate to mention here that given the nature of Pakistan's special relationship with China and the fact that CPEC is a joint initiative of Pakistan and China. It has strategic significance, spread over the next 15 years and it will involve linkages not only between the two neighbors but also the region of South and Central Asia as well. The Parliamentary Committee is an outcome of the said historic consensus. Therefore, the Parliamentary Committee is above any party, province, individual or even government  as it embodies the hopes and aspirations of the people of Pakistan in their efforts to seek a better future through CPEC.

Soon after the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 20-21, 2015, former President Asif Ali Zardari convened a meeting of all political leaders at Zardari House on April 23, 2015 with a view to discuss the issues pertaining to CPEC and urged the government and the political parties present to take immediate steps to forge a broad national consensus considering the strategic significance of CPEC.  The Government responded by holding an All Parties Conference on May 13, 2015, which, however, had to be cut short because of the heinous act of terrorism in Karachi and the decision was taken for another meeting within a fortnight to finalize the consensus on CPEC.

On May 28, 2015, a consensus was reached at the All Parties Conference meeting that priority will be given for the immediate construction of the Western route of the CPEC linking Gwadar with China, on a priority basis, and all decisions will be taken in a timely and transparent manner so that benefits of CPEC permeate to the smaller provinces, especially the less developed areas. During  All Parties Conference, the proposal for establishment of a Parliamentary Committee on the CPEC to oversee the CPEC,  to monitor the implementation of the CPEC projects and to make recommendations for speedy and timely implementation as well as suggestions for improvement in cost and time reduction as well as provision of better services to the people was taken.

Following its maiden meeting held on September 15, 2015, the Committee till in its first quarter, has convened 7 meetings including adoption of its rules to regulate procedure as well as a 6-month Work Plan from October 2015 to March 2016, unanimously.

The Parliamentary Committee on CPEC has been working in a systematic manner starting from the first briefing by the Minister for Planning, Development and Reform, who is the Focal Person from the Pakistani side on CPEC followed by a briefing on infrastructure projects by the Chairman, National Highway Authority (NHA) and Director General, Frontier Works Organization (FWO) as well as a briefing on energy projects from the Minister for Water & Power.  The Committee also took the initiative to personally visit Gwadar, which is the starting point of the CPEC, where members were briefed by the Chairman, Gwadar Port Authority and Director General, Gwadar Development Authority.  The Committee also proceeded on an inspection tour of the Western route of the CPEC being constructed from Gwadar to the North and they travelled on a military helicopter accompanied by senior officers of the Pakistan Army, FWO, NHA and the Frontier Constabulary (FC).  They inspected various points all along the under-construction Western Route in Balochistan including Tallar, Hoshab and Turbat.

Pursuant to a meeting of the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan with the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee, and the former's request to be included in the loop on deliberations given that Gilgit-Baltistan borders China, it was decided that the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan would be invited to participate in the Committee deliberations as a Special Invitees.

Additionally, on November 16, 2015, with a view to make the CPEC more transparent to the press and public at large, the CPEC Media Forum was organized at Islamabad with the participation of 14 media persons who specially came from China, courtesy the Embassy of China, as well as Pakistani media from all provinces of Pakistan. A special website is also being developed so that the proceedings of the Committee and all projects and developments pertaining to CPEC are public and transparent before the people of Pakistan and the rest of the world.

Another highlight of this first quarter of the Parliamentary Committee's functioning is that members were given a briefing by the Ambassador of China at the Chinese Embassy where he also responded to their comments and questions.  An invitation was also extended to the Parliamentary Committee to visit China sometime in 2016 with a view to get insights and perspectives on the CPEC, which, as part of the "One Belt One Road" initiative of President Xi Jinping  has now been officially incorporated into the 13th  Five-Year Plan of the Government of China, officially adopted in October. During his briefing to the members, the Chinese Ambassador also expressed appreciation and satisfaction over the fact that the Government of Pakistan is giving priority to develop the Western alignment of the CPEC and he expressed full cooperation and support from the Chinese side for projects that will promote development in the less-developed areas in the smaller provinces.

The role of Pakistan is unique in the development of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road because both of these (the Belt and the Road) converge in Pakistan through the port of Gwadar so Pakistan's geography and role acquire a broader significance in the shape of the new regionalism developing in the area of Asia where Pakistan is located with this regional cooperation driven by economy and energy and building of ports and pipelines and roads and railways, which will help in poverty alleviation, economic uplift of backward areas and stronger bonds between the neighbor countries.  More importantly, the CPEC is emerging today as a factor for unity of the Federation of Pakistan by uniting the people and provinces of Pakistan in the quest for a better tomorrow through peace, progress and prosperity.

I am grateful to my distinguished colleagues from both the Houses of Parliament in the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC for their trust and confidence, cooperation and guidance in taking the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC forward. I am thankful to the Secretariats of the National Assembly and the Senate of Pakistan for their efficient and proactive role in organizing and moving forward the work of the Parliamentary Committee.  The CPEC has the potential of being not only a “game changer” for the people of Pakistan by instilling new hope, confidence and faith but also changing the destiny of Pakistan and its people.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed