Pakistan to pacify Belt and Road opposition with more projects

Pakistan to pacify Belt and Road opposition with more projects

Funding an obstacle for cash-strapped Islamabad amid halt in IMF aid

KARACHI — To quell stiff opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, a linchpin of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government is launching a big development package for southern Balochistan Province in the country’s southwest.

Khan announced the package during a visit to Turbat, 160 km northeast of the port city Gwadar, a key staging point for the economic corridor. The Prime Minister’s Accelerated Development Package for South Balochistan, as it is called, comprises projects worth tens of billions of Pakistani rupees.

The package aims to create 120,000 jobs, build 1,100 km of highways, establish 210 health units, expand Turbat International Airport and provide gas and electricity to 320,000 households in southern Balochistan.

It will also include loans for 2,000 fishermen to buy boats and funds for the construction of 16 dams to irrigate 60,700 hectares of land. The plan also entails construction of parts of the M8 highway, a project that is already part of an ongoing $50 billion economic corridor project.

“China’s annual trade is $2 trillion and Gwadar will connect Pakistan with this trade,” Khan said at a ceremony marking the start of program in Turbat.