Senators on Friday presented a motion in the Upper House expressing concerns that Pakistan appears to be getting the short end of the stick in Free-Trade Agreements (FTA) struck up with Beijing as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
Senator Mian Atiq presented a motion in this regard, which also raised concerns that China was not utilising various economic concessions granted to it by Pakistan.
The senator furrther said Pakistan’s value-added exports have not benefited under the FTA agreements and there are concerns regarding the promotion of local industry.
A debate regarding the benefits of the project to Pakistan took place in the House after the motion was presented.
Lawmakers also voiced concerns that information regarding the project was being withheld. They also asked what Balochistan stands to gain from the project.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani subsequently asked who in parliament was withholding requested information and summoned all records pertaining to the matter.
Benefits for Balochistan?
“China has arrived in Gwadar and almost all the business conducted in Pakistan is being undertaken by China,” PML-N’s Senator Kulsoom Parveen said.
“What progress has Gwadar seen under CPEC, so far?” she asked.”The people of Balochistan have not gained anything from the project.”
“Maybe the people of Balochistan will only be given jobs to fix punctured tires,” she said.
Chiming in, Senator Azam Moosa Khel stated that “CPEC will not be successful.”
“What benefits have the people of Balochistan gained from the project?” the senator asked, echoing Senator Parveen’s concerns.
PPP’s Senator Farhatullah Babar told the Senate that the business community had sought inclusion in the formulation of agreements with China. However, they were not accommodated, he regretted.
He also called for transparency in security arrangements for CPEC, pointing out that “pieces of information regarding the project have been withheld.”
“We were told that there is a long-term plan but it cannot be shared,” he added.