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PoK Administration says China backed CPEC projects only to favour Chinese firms

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Muzaffarabad/Islamabad: The administration in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) has told the federal government that Islamabad has been flouting all rules and procedures with respect to projects forming part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by waiving aside the condition of international competitive bidding for CPEC projects, thus ensuring that Chinese companies were able to clinch all the deals and ensure that not a single POK entity wins any business from this 43 billion dollar venture.

In early 2016, the former Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Chaudhry Abdul Majid, in whose province some of the projects are to be located, had objected to the free run allowed by the federal government to foreign and private companies in the province. He had complained then that these companies, without the permission of the AJK/POK administration, were openly intruding in the region and carrying out their activities. He had made specific reference to hydro electric projects being built by Chinese companies, where even relevant MoUs had not been signed.

However in view of the inaction of the federal government, Chaudhry Majid recently issued an order disallowing any company engaged in hydro power projects from carrying out any construction activity in POK unless it had been provided a license by the provincial government.

As a result, construction activity on Chinese-run projects in POK like the Kohala hydro power project, have stopped. However, the Pakistan government has been putting pressure on the current administration in POK to relax the regulations on Chinese companies.

On July 28, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, while addressing a session of the Pakistan Senate, and said that the CPEC agreement with China was confidential and could not be made public. This runs counter to the international norm, as per which, commercial agreements made between two sovereign countries are invariably placed in the public domain, open to scrutiny by citizens of both countries.

Such secrecy by the Government of Pakistan, as also the recent objections raised by the former POK prime minister, clearly show that the former has much to hide. Not only has the CPEC bartered away Pakistan’s commercial interests to China, but also perhaps some of its independence, claims the POK administration. (ANI)

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