17 Nov 2017/ Friday
In a recent development in the OROB project of Pakistan and China, Pakistan has decided to exclude the Diamer-Basha Dam located in Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK) from the CPEC framework. Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) Chairman Muzammil Hussain on Wednesday quoted informed to media personnel that “Chinese conditions for financing the Diamer-Bhasha Dam were not doable and against our interests”
Mr. Hussain while briefing Public Accounts Committee on the status of mega water and power project stated that the conditions were about taking ownership of the project, operation and maintenance cost and securitization of the Diamer-Basha project by pledging another operation dam in Pakistan. Generally such information is kept away from the public by the Pakistani Government officials, however in this instance, the same was placed in the public domain just a few days before the 7th Joint Cooperation Committee meeting with China to be held from 21 Nov 2017.
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It is to be noted that Pakistan tried to raise the money for Diamer-Basha Project from International financial institutions but due to the location of the project in the disputed area and principle stake holder i.e. India opposed the Project. In its present state neither the world financial bodies like World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) nor Chinese are financing the project thus Pakistan is going ahead with construction of the reservoir using its own funds.
Immediately, Chinese spokesperson, Mr. Geng Shuang was not available however later in the day when probed informed that “I am not aware of the information mentioned by you. I can tell you that China and Pakistan cooperation is extensive and profound. As far as I know, CPEC is progressing smoothly for the time being.”
Mr. Geng further added that on matters pertaining to CPEC Chinese are following the principle of extensive consultation and sharing the benefits to build the CPEC. He reiterated that it is conducive to promote connectivity between the two countries and entire region as a whole. As per him, the CPEC project is progressing smoothly for the time being.
It seems that entire episode to be a media dressing to hide the truth of failing and unequal CPEC tilt between the principle stakeholders i.e. China and Pakistan. Numerous financial experts world over and Pakistan, in particular, have pointed out the unviability for Pakistan to come out of the debt raised by it with the Chinese government to complete the project. The Pakistani government has to sell a picture of no go for the project before taking the undoable option. Hence, the Pakistani media was given a leak of the deal. This is the first time that details of the deal have come out to the public. It is hoped that the deal is not another scam where the political and military bosses in Pakistan were paid hefty bribes by Chinese to get the CPEC going in their favour.
This author is pursuing studies in financial audit as part of doctoral studies in Lahore.