The on-going controversy over the change of the original route of the CPEC triggered and led by ANP is quite untenable, particularly giving it a parochial shade as was done in the APC on the subject convened at Quetta on May 16.
The Joint declaration issued at the end of the APC while supporting the CPEC and its overall benefit to the country made it a point to assert that the change in its original route would undermine the interests of the Baloch and Pushtuns and it would be a joke if it did not pass through Quetta.
A Baloch nationalist leader even went to the extent of claiming that the agreements in regards to Gawadar-Kashgar carried signatures of the Punjab Chief Minister while ignoring the Chief Minister of Baluchistan.
The interesting thing about the whole affair is that nobody, not even the advocates of the change in the route of the Corridor have a blue print of the original and changed route that they are trying to make controversial.
Whatever their motive behind this move, one thing is certain that the objections and issues raised by them stem from a complete lack of understanding of the concept of CPEC, the route that the Corridor would follow and the project that would be set-up as a consequence of this plan.
The Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal in his presentation to the entire political leadership, including ANP had given an exhaustive account of the projects under the umbrella of CPEC and clearly stated that the Corridor would be a network of roads that would connect Gawadar and Kashgar passing through capitals of all the four provinces.
The immediate focus of the two countries was to launch work in the energy sector and that the working groups formed by China and Pakistan would decide on the exact locations of the economic zones along the Corridor and the areas through which this network would pass after considering their technical aspects and feasibility.
He emphasized the fact that a formally agreed upon blue print on the route is yet to come up.
He further stated that the route of the corridor will be finalized by the working groups comprising representatives of both China and Pakistan.
Reportedly, the project Director CPEC has said that he was also not aware of any such ‘original route’ and those trying to make it controversial were probably doing so on the basis of some misunderstanding.
He correctly remarked that if anyone had such a document he should share it with the parliamentary committee that has been formed by the Prime Minister to oversee the implementation of the CPEC.
However, according to the reliable sources the planners of the Corridor are actually contemplating to construct three routes for the Corridor.
One route originating from Gawadar would pass through Turbat, Panjgur, Nag, Basima, Sorab, Qalat Quetta, Qilla Saifullah, Zhob, D I Khan before leading towards Islamabad.
The second route from Gawadar would lead to D I Khan through Basima, Khuzdar, Sukkur, Rajanpur, Layyah, Muzaffargarh and Bakkar.
The third route from Gawadar to Islamabad would pass through Basima, Khuzdar, Sukkur, Rahimyar Khan, Bahawalpur, Multan, Lahore and Faisalabad.
A look at these proposed routes, which of course would be formalized after approval of the working groups, reveals that no province of the country has been neglected.
There is no justification for raising the issue of change of route in view of the foregoing facts and the best forum for any dissenting views and having them addressed is the parliamentary committee.
The government, specially the Prime Minister has repeatedly said that every effort would be made to allay any misunderstanding about the project and taking the political leadership into confidence with reference to the implementation of the CPEC.
Therefore it is imperative for the entire political leadership of the country to give ownership to the CPEC which provides us with an historic opportunity to put the country on the path of a sustained economic growth and making Pakistan a hub of economic activity for the entire region including Central Asia;
Making the CPEC controversial like the Kalabagh Dam would inflict an incalculable damage to the economic fabric of the country and scuttle the chances of such a huge foreign investment in Pakistan.
Any confrontation would be tantamount to consciously or unconsciously playing into the hands of the enemies of the country.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was right on the mark when he said that some of the politicians and enemies of the country were finding it hard to digest CPEC.
India is naturally against the CPEC and wants to undermine it by all means.
Reportedly a special wing has been created in RAW to sabotage the project through acts of terrorism in Pakistan to create an atmosphere of despondency amongst the masses and scaring away the potential investors in Pakistan.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already raised the issue with the Chinese leaders contending that the Corridor would pass through a disputed territory.
Nobody in his right mind would grudge the prerogative of the politicians and political parties to have different views on the issues of national importance provided they are based upon facts and raised at the appropriate forums with commitment and honesty of the purposes.
But trying to create a mountain out of the mole-hill and agitating on non-issues is not the right way.
The political leadership needs to understand our relations with China and our own economic interests as a state.
Politics at the cost of national interests needs to be shunned.