Pakistan, China take important decision on CPEC project
They have reached an agreement on the revised cost of the most expensive project of CPEC, ML-1. According to details, China has agreed to a revised cost of $6.6 billion for Main Line-1 (ML-1), and the amended design plan for the project will be presented to Pakistan by October 31st.
ML-1 is a 1,872-kilometer railway track project from Karachi to Peshawar. According to media reports, the Joint Working Groups for CPEC on Aviation, Railways, and Infrastructure, headed by Pakistan's Secretary of Communications Khaqan Aga, and Secretary of Railways Mazhar Ali Shah, will travel to Beijing at the end of this week to participate in the JCC meeting to finalize the cost and related matters.
The formal announcement of the agreement is expected during Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to China on October 18th for annual ceremonies related to the Belt and Road Initiative.
According to sources, the estimated cost of ML-1 was initially around $9.8 billion, but China showed some flexibility and received help in reducing costs through some design changes. Similarly, some other parts of the project will be developed by Pakistan itself within the prescribed time.
During Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to China, it is also expected that both sides will address the issue of delayed progress on four approved projects between 2018 and 2022, including Mirpur-Muzaffarabad-Mansehra Motorway, Dera Ismail Khan Road, and Babusar Top, among others.
Informed sources have indicated that former Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif had sought Chinese leadership's cooperation in reviving these projects, and China had also agreed to expedite work on ML-1.
However, no significant progress has been made on these projects since then, and now special investment facilitation will be pursued through the China-Pakistan Investment Council (CPIC), which serves as a solution for capital investment, mainly for financial institutions.