China-Pakistan Economic Corridor might become like East India Co, say Pakistan’s senators

Several Pakistan senators have expressed grave fears that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) could turn into another rapacious East India Company if the country’s interests aren’t actively protected, reports said.

What the senators were specifically worried about us the perception that local financing is being used for CPEC-related projects, instead of monies from the Chinese or from other foreign investments.

“It will be very harmful for us if we have to bear the entire burden; will this [project] be a national development or a national calamity? Whatever loans taken from China will have to be paid by the poor people of Pakistan,” Saeedul Hassan Mandokhail reportedly said, at a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development, reports said.

Mandokhail compared the project to The East India Co., which was, of course, Britain’s trading mission to India and the precursor to British imperial rule in the subcontinent.

“Another East India Company is in the offing; national interests are not being protected. We are proud of the friendship between Pakistanand China, but the interests of the state should come first,” said Tahir Mashhadi, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development.

Who fixes tariffs?

Other areas of major concern are the power tariffs the Chinese will fix for CPEC-related power projects, as well as the fact that some believe that the Gadani power project, a 6,000 megawatt plant, is not part of the CPEC.

Pakistan’s National Energy Power Regulatory Authority approved tariff for the project at 71 paise per unit, while Chinese investors are demanding a whopping 95 paise per unit. As for the Gadani plant, Kakar claimed that the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan had recently asserted that it was indeed a part of the corridor.

“Why is this project, which does not even exist, being counted in our account?” Kakar asked.

And last but not least of the senators’ concerns is that CPEC’s infrastructure – being established in Gwadar – would only benefit the Chinese and Punjab province governments, and not the beleaguered province of Balochistan.

“The people of Balochistan will only get one benefit from this project, which is the water supply,” Kakar reportedly said, adding that no electricity or railway projects had been planned for Balochistan under the CPEC.

Mandokhail said that smaller provinces were feeling deprived. He accused the country’s Planning Commission of prioritising Balochistan very low on its list.

“We do not want the CPEC at the cost of the federation,” he said.

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