7th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) between the two countries was held on 21st November. The JCC is the apex decision-making forum on the CPEC and is jointly chaired by Pakistan’s Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal and the Vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China Wang Xiatao. The JCC on CPEC signifies in harmonizing the multifaceted cooperation between China and Pakistan.
In this JCC all the future plans were discussed and the proposals were approved to strengthen the bilateral millionaire project known as CPEC. More specifically in the context of Balochistan, six new projects have been proposed in the 7th JCC meeting. The projects which have already been proposed are of immense importance. The details of the proposed projects in Balochistan are Financial assistance from EXIM Bank for Gwadar; Construction of alternate harbor with allied facilities and establishment of necessary facilities for boat building industry on West-bay of Gwadar; Model Fisherman Residential village; Northern bypass (77 KM); extension of airport road to New Gwadar International Airport; and extension of Jinnah Avenue towards Koh-e-Batil and Northern bypass. Strategically all these projects were the need of the hour.
Policymakers of Balochistan meticulously drafted the proposal for development in Balochistan. Moreover, in the last year in the 6th JCC meeting, Balochistan took the lead amongst all provinces and proposed13 new projects which are ongoing in 2017.
Furthermore, some hawkish views last time pointed towards all the focus being on Gwadar, as Chinese have no interest in Balochistan’s socio-political conditions. One must understand that there is a lynchpin or center point and the dynamics revolve around that center point. Developing Gwadar does not mean that Balochistan is left behind, but if the center will be strong it will uphold the province together. Even Additional Chief Secretary (Dev), Planning and Development, Qamar Masood reiterated ‘this is a misunderstanding. While port development and connectivity is the current focus, things are going step by step and development is taking place side by side’.
Moreover, the most befitting response to critics is the Bostan Special Economic Zone from which the entire province is getting benefited. Major industrialists and labors will be in more advantageous position when the whole project will be completed in March. In the long term plan it has been decided that ‘by 2025, the CPEC building shall be basically done, the industrial system approximately complete, major economic functions brought into play in a holistic way, the people’s livelihood along the CPEC significantly improved, regional development more balanced and all the goals of Vision 2025 achieved’.
Balochistan Spokesperson Mr. Anwar ul haq Kakar said, ‘it will definitely be a game changer if we keep the province’s interest in the forefront’. The holistic approach has been devised for Balochistan as working on more projects has been decided for the next 8th JCC meeting in 2018. These projects are in pipeline whereas consultants are working on the feasibility reports. These projects include; Quetta mass transit, Quetta water and to an extent the Bostan SEZ. These projects are also the befitting response to the critique who purposely forged that development is just going around in Gwadar.