Pakistan PM Imran Khan assures fast-tracking CPEC projects after Beijing red flags delay

Almost a week after China raised the issue of delay in several China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday assured the expeditious implementation of projects, arguing the difficulties were due to the Covid-19 pandemic

Sep 30, 2021
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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

Almost a week after China raised the issue of delay in several China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday assured the expeditious implementation of projects, arguing the difficulties were due to the Covid-19 pandemic. China has invested over $70 billion in various projects across sectors in Pakistan under its flagship CPEC program. However several projects, especially in power sectors, have seen delays, in some cases running over three years.

Speaking at the inauguration of a 6 KW power smart power transition line in the capital, Islamabad, Khan termed the delay “temporary” and assured the work will be fast-tracked which was earlier affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Earlier on 24 September, China had raised the issue of delay and security of CPEC projects and Chinese workers--both of which have lately come under frequent attacks--in the 10th meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), the highest body concerning CPEC projects. 

In the same meeting, China had also raised the issue of the huge accumulated dues of several Chinese companies. Asad Omar, the country’s planning minister, later issued directives to clear payments to Chinese firms on a rotation basis. He also assured the Chinese delegation of increasing security to Chinese workers. 

Earlier this month, a Senate panel had expressed concern over the slow pace of development on the CPEC and dissatisfaction being expressed by Chinese companies over the negligible progress in the last three years.

The issue of delays was also raised by the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development, Saleem Mandviwalla, who said the Chinese were not satisfied with the pace of work on the CPEC, reported Dawn.

“They (the Chinese) are crying," Mandviwalla was quoted as saying by Dawn, adding further, “Chinese ambassador has complained to me that you have destroyed CPEC and no work was done in the past three years."

Omar, however, downplayed the criticism that CPEC had been slowed down over the past three years and claimed that major work on the corridor projects had been completed during the current government. He also advised lawmakers to be careful while commenting on CPEC. 

(SAM)