CPEC control war intensifies as Ahsan wins planning commission charge



–Sartaj not taken into confidence over additional charge to Ahsan Iqbal


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has handed down the additional charge of Ministry of Planning, Development & Reforms to Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal.

A notification to the effect was issued on Friday stating that Ahsan Iqbal will continue working as interior minister but he will also run the affairs of the planning commission as an additional charge.

It also said Sartaj Aziz will continue working as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission with a status of a federal minister.

The notification, however, failed to elaborate about the responsibilities assigned to Sartaj Aziz who recently had been appointed the deputy chairman of the Commission.

When contacted, Sartaj Aziz said he had no knowledge about the notification and he had not been taken into confidence either by the prime minister or the concerned bureaucrats.

“I am out of city and have no knowledge about the notification you are referring to. I would comment after looking at the notification,” Sartaj Aziz told Pakistan Today.

It is a new twist in the ongoing bickering within the ruling party to get maximum control over the projects linked with multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). There is no detail in the notification about the distribution of work between Ahsan Iqbal and Sartaj Aziz; both work as federal ministers though.

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal presents a souvenir to Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong

Last week, the prime minister had quietly taken over the CPEC projects; however, the planning ministry remains related to the CPEC as many projects are still linked with the planning commission.

According to a source, Ahsan Iqbal had met Prime Minister Abbasi recently and shared his wish to continue with the post of Minister for Planning Commission.

Ahsan Iqbal, who has been involved with the CPEC since 2013, has ensured timely completion of all the CPEC projects. He had told Pakistan Today, “I have discussed with the PM that many projects which were in final stages and some new initiatives launched under the Public Sector Development Projects would suffer due to lack of continuity. The prime minister also shares the concern. I hope that some solution will be found,” the minister had said.

An official at the planning ministry told Pakistan Today that perhaps the ruling party is planning to have full control of all rural and urban development projects with an eye on the upcoming elections due in the year 2018.

However, confusion prevails about the fate of CPEC and its related departments which have been divided among deputy chairman of planning commission, prime minister-led cabinet committee, and Ahsan Iqbal.

“As the prime ministers’ secretariat can’t act as a focal point for CPEC linked projects, the planning commission, being the focal point, still is relevant. So taking back its control will be beneficial for Ahsan Iqbal,” the official said.

Asked to elaborate which departments were to be decided for control, the official said that CPEC Support Project, Development Communication Project, CPEC Center of Excellence and other departments were yet to be decided.