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Cabinet signs MoU to link Gawadar with Xinjiang




  • The federal cabinet on Wednesday accorded approval to a landmark memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Pakistan and China for establishment of Pak-China Economic Corridor, paving the way for linking Gawadar port with Xinjiang and other western parts of China.

    The agreement is set to be officially signed upon the arrival of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in Pakistan on May 22. The Chinese premier would be visiting for the first time at the invitation of President Asif Ali Zardari after assuming office.

    According to the agreement, both states would form a joint working group which would conduct research and planning for laying road and rail links between Gawadar and Xinjiang. Moreover, the document stated that optic fibre and oil pipelines would also be laid to link both the countries.

     

    During the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso stated that despite being a caretaker regime, his government had decided not to delay the programmes of national significance which would usher progress and prosperity for the people of south Asia.

    “This agreement is of strategic importance for both Pakistan and China and would help Pakistan strengthen its economic base. Moreover, both China and Pakistan would enhance their cooperation in the fields of economy, energy, agriculture, science and technology and trade,” a source who attended the meeting said.

    Poll rigging

    Furthermore, the federal cabinet was given a detailed briefing by Interior Minister Malik Habib on the holding of peaceful general elections across the country on May 11. The source said that the interior minister told the meeting that the law enforcement agencies had successfully implemented a strategy to defeat the designs of the terrorists who had threatened to thwart the polls process through acts of violence.

    “Irrespective of some isolated incidents of violence in some part of the country, the polls were held peacefully and smoothly across the country,” the source quoted the interior minister as saying.

    The source said that the cabinet members expressed satisfaction over smooth polling.

    “However, some cabinet members raised their reservations over the allegations of rigging in different constituencies of the country. Some members even pointed out alleged irregularities in their respective provinces. Even Balochistan chief minister had alleged that polls were rigged in some constituencies,” the source said.

    The source added that the prime minister said that the matter needed a through probe but since the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was an independent body tasked to hold polls, the matter should be raised with the ECP.

    “The prime minister said that the concerns of the cabinet members should be conveyed to the ECP so that their grievances can be addressed at the proper forum,” the source added.

    Wheat for Iran

    The cabinet also approved export of 100,000 metric tonnes of wheat to Iran under the Pak-Iran Barter Agreement, under which both the neighbouring states are expected to benefit from each other’s strengths.

    The cabinet resolved to continue its support to the Iran which has been facing strict sanctions from US and European states due to its strained relations with world powers over a nuclear standoff.

    In January this year, the federal government had asked state-owned Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Services Corporation (Passco) to supply 100,000 tons of wheat to Iran.

    Last year, Pakistan had agreed to export a consignment of 100,000 tonnes of wheat to Iran which was to be delivered to Iran in mid-February 2012 but the consignment could not be sent due to a pricing row.

    The payment had been agreed for reduced 35,000 tonnes of Pakistani wheat but this could not be shipped as the contract period had expired. The barter deal was to involve Iran exporting fertiliser and iron ore to Pakistan in exchange for wheat but it has been deadlocked over price and quality. In August 2012, Pakistan had agreed a price of $300 for wheat. The barter arrangement was among a series of wheat deals reached by Iran in early 2012 as western sanctions disrupted its international trade.

    The European Union and the United States imposed sanctions meant to discourage Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme, which they say has a military purpose. Iran rejects these allegations and says its atomic work is peaceful.

    Western sanctions do not target food shipments, but financial measures have frozen Iranian firms out of much of the global banking system, making it difficult to pay for imports on which Iran relies for much of its food. – See more at: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/05/16/news/national/cabinet-signs-mou-to-link-gawadar-with-xinjiang/#sthash.OXDJj6pr.dpuf

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