Balochistan CM Zehri absent from CPEC summit in Islamabad?

Islamabad [Pakistan], Aug. 30 : While provincial governments in Pakistan sought additional investments in their respective regions through the USD 46-billion flagship China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Balochistan Chief Minister Sardar Sanaullah Zehri was conspicuously absent from a CPEC Summit held in Islamabad recently.

Chief Ministers Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Gilgit-Baltistan and the Prime Minister of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) Raja Farooq Haider Khan reiterated their support for the CPEC and urged the Pakistan and Chinese authorities to focus more on the provinces in stimulating investments, reports the Express Tribune.

Apart from Zehri, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also did not attend the summit. Zehri's absence from the summit comes in wake of protests by activists of the UK-based Baloch and Sindhi groups against the CPEC and human rights violations outside the Chinese embassy in London demanding that the USD 46-billion project be called off.

The CPEC, considered a part of China's One Belt, One Road initiative, covers Balochistan and Sindh provinces and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

The project has formally been opposed by India because it runs through PoK. The protesters say that the project was causing much damage to the environment and would not benefit the people of the region.

They alleged that Balochistan's abundant resources were being diverted for the benefit of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province.

The protest, the first jointly organised by Sindhi and Baloch groups, came days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during an all-parties meeting that Islamabad would have to answer for "atrocities" in Balochistan and PoK.

During his Independence Day speech, he also said that people in Balochistan and PoK had thanked him for raising the issue.

Described as an economic "game-changer" by Pakistan and China, CPEC has strategic implications for India and Afghanistan.

The Gwadar port in Balochistan, developed with Chinese assistance, is also a key part of the project.

Source: ANI