Sunday, 31 January 2016

QK archives: Reclaiming our heritage

Originally published The NEWS 14 December 2012

By Z. Khan and Ali Jan
Recently, a Peshawar-based heritage activist pointedly told us how he used to keep a list of various heritage sites under threat. However, he sees little point in doing so now as the list of those sites under threat, and those that have vanished, grows longer and longer.

The city used to be clearly divided between the old walled city and the cantonment. The city’s 16 gates each had their distinctive names with the most used being the obvious ones – the Kabul and Lahori gates, a reflection of the two big influences over the city that have remained to this day. Today, only two of the 16 gates exist and, sadly, much of the wall has ceased to exist. The old city’s most famous bazaar, the Qissa Khawani Bazaar, was also the site of a largely forgotten massacre in 1930 when the soldiers of Garhwal Rifles defied their British officers and refused to fire on unarmed protestors.

Deeper in the city is the historic Mosque of Mahabat Khan, built in 1630. It was here, from its minarets, that the Italian mercenary and Sikh-era governor Paolo Avitabile (a name corrupted by locals to Abu Tabela) would hang opponents. Then there is the 2000-year-old Gorkhatri site in the heart of the old city, housing one of the widest and deepest archaeological excavation pits in the world. Findings from it officially established Peshawar’s chronological profile as the oldest living city in this part of Asia. The place also has a Mughal caravanserai, a Hindu temple and most interestingly is also home to a century-old fire engine station from the days of the British Raj.

Outside the old city there are other important heritage sites. The old city was controlled from the heights of the Bala Hisar Fort, which has remained under the Frontier Corps’ control. Although an ideal tourist attraction, visiting the fort, however, is a hard task nowadays with breakdown in security. The cantonment is home to the Peshawar Club, Edwardes College, the old Capitol Cinema, the Governor’s House and the once relatively quiet Saddar Bazaar near The Mall.

Further afield we have the Peshawar University and the iconic Islamia College with its distinctive early 20th century architecture, which is also in dire need of protection and restoration. Despite these rich treasures, none of the old monuments of Peshawar’s walled city are included in Unesco’s World Heritage List. The provincial and federal gazetted ‘protected national monument’ lists are, at best, feeble attempts and seem to give a semblance of some sort to the guardianship of a handful of sites. It is a sad reflection of the poor state of affairs and lack of interest among the government departments concerned with protecting our heritage.

Amidst this loss of the city’s heritage, when important buildings like Bala Hisar Fort and Islamia College are not listed as protected national heritage monuments, others have simply vanished. Town Hall, city gates and walls, Falak Sair Cinema, Shahji-ki-Dheri (Site of Kanishka’s Stupa) , Panj Tirath, Deans Hotel, Duchess of Connaught Hospital, Hari Singh Ka Burj, several ancient gardens, private homes and tea houses, Hastings Memorial, Mackeson’s obelisk, Dak bungalows, temples and even a synagogue have all crumbled.

In the case of the Bala Hisar Fort, a 1997 agreement reached between the Frontier Corps and provincial government stipulated that the FC were to vacate the fort and open it to the public for tourism purposes.

In 1995, the then inspector general of the Frontier Corps shared his concern about the deteriorating condition of the fort with the provincial government, suggesting that the fort may be opened to tourists if the higher authorities permitted. Since the fort was never formally notified as a ‘national monument’, the provincial secretary informed his federal counterpart to seek funds for its conservation and also bring it under the ambit of the Antiquities Act of 1975.

In 1995, the Frontier Corps HQ indicated via a letter (No 803/33/x/works) that it had inadequate funds for upkeep of the fort and asked the authorities to take note of the construction of multi-storey buildings in the vicinity of the fort. The FC also asked the agencies concerned to ensure the implementation of Article 22 of the Antiquities Act 1975, which prohibits construction in the vicinity of a historical monument.

In 1997, the provincial government allotted several acres of land worth millions to the FC to shift its headquarters from Bala Hisar. Then chief minister, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, visited the under-construction headquarters in Hayatabad and issued a written directive (No SOIV/CM/97/4-1/4246-53), which included, among other things: “1. Additional Rs10 million may be released for completion of the under-construction building of FC HQ. It will be utilised to ensure the vacation of Bala Hisar Fort within six months by shifting the HQ to the site in Hayatabad; 2. A museum may be created in the Fort and it would be developed as a tourist facility.” Unfortunately the order remains unimplemented to this day.

Disturbing stories are also circulating about Gorkhatri, alleging that there are efforts to turn it into a commercial site with new constructions on the premises. This scheme is apparently supported by senior politicians and officials. This is a recurring theme for heritage activists when half-hearted, and sometimes well-meaning, efforts to preserve heritage sites end up causing damage. To use an analogy to describe this mixture of blatant opportunism and inept well-meaning efforts, it is like how bad medicine can be more dangerous to a patient than no medicine at all.

Till the 1980s, Peshawar was heavily dominated by the Hindko-speaking community of the old city as well as a significant number of Pakhtuns, and smaller numbers of Persian and Dari speakers. The rural areas of Peshawar were dominated by the Arbab landlords who had historically served as tax collectors and brokers between others tribes and the city. It was also home to a sizable number of Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and some Parsi families. This subculture had a sense of ownership over the city, a ‘Dil Pishori’ philosophy that still exists in a diminished form.

Over the decades the city has spilled out of these confines and spread westwards, with new suburban localities developing over prime agriculture land and a new generation of middle-class Pakhtuns who have made the city their home. In the face of governmental inaptitude, this generation has the added difficult task of preserving art and culture through education and guarantee the protection of cultural heritage sites. This new generation has to challenge the apathy that has crept around them and reach out to reclaim this heritage for future generations.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Presence of rhinoceroses in Afghanistan ( in the vicinity of Khyber pass) in 16th century

Shared by Baz Gul

Sidi Ali Reis was an Ottoman Admiral of Indian ocean fleet in 1553 A.D, during the reign of Suleiman the great. In 1553 he was commanded to fetch back the remains of a fleet which had been left stranded in Basra, Iraq by another officer. When he was preparing to leave Basra, his fleet was attacked by Portuguese and Sidi Ali barely escaped with few vessels to the coast of Gujarat in India. From there he traveled back overland through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Azerbaijan , reaching Istanbul via Baghdad in 1556. He wrote about his experience during the four years of travel in a book called "Mirat ul Memalik". Sidi Ali Reis related how he traveled from the Punjab in present-day Pakistan towards Kabul. His party reached

"the town of Pershuer, i.e. Peshawar. Soon after, we crossed the Khaiber Pass, and reached Djushai. In the mountains we saw two rhinoceroses (Kerkedans), each the size of a small elephant, they have a horn on their nose about two inches long. In Abyssinia these animals are more plentiful. (Mirat ul Memalik, English translation by Vambery, 1899, pp-64-65)

Word "Kerkedan" used by Sidi Ali Reis is Persian designation of the rhinoceros. The two rhinoceros were seen in the mountains in the vicinity of Khyber pass. Sidi Ali traveled from Peshawar into the mountains , and he mentioned the animals only after saying that he crossed the Khyber pass. Its quite possible that Sidi Ali saw the rhinoceroses across the border in present-day Afghanistan. Thus based on Sidi's work it can be concluded, that rhinoceroses was still known in this region until middle of the sixteenth century. 

Sidi Ali Rais. Image credit


Alam Khan Lodi عالم خان لودی

(This is the biographical note about Alam Khan also known as Alaudin Shah, the uncle of  Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. He changed the course of history of India, and of Afghans, by inviting and involving Mughals in the civil war of Indo-Afghans, in league with Daulat Khan Lodi, the governor of Punjab)

Alam Khan Lodi, son of Sultan Bahlol Lodi, was holding at the latter's death in 1489 AD, the governorship of the pargana of Rapri (Mainpuri district, U.P) and Chandwar (near Firuzabad town, Agra district, on the Jamuna bank). The Bahluli nobles arraying themselves as supporters of prince Barbak Shah (son of Bahlul), governor of the Punjab and Delhi and prince Azam Humayun Khan (grandson of Bahlul), Nizam Khan seated himself on the throne of Agra and Delhi, through the support of Umar Khan Sarwani, the Wazir. Prince Alam Khan being a partisan of prince Azam Humayun Khan, governor of Kalpi Sarkar (Jalaun district, U.P) was ejected by Nizam Khan (who had taken the title of Sikander Shah) soon after, from Rapri and Chandwar. He fled to his kinsman , Isa Khan Lodi, governor of Patiali (Etah district, U.P). Alam Khan, later on, submitted to Sikander, his powerful brother, who pardoned him and conferred on him the governorship of Etawa district instead. Alam Khan's son, Tatar Khan Lodi, was allowed to retain the governorship of Buksor, in the present Unnao district of Awadh.

We do not hear any more of Alam Khan in the chronology of the sultanate of Delhi and Agra during the last of the reign of the Sultan Sikander Lodior that of his son and successor Sultan Ibrahim, till we find him suddenly in the kingdom of Gujarat during the reign of Qutbuddin Muzaffar Shah (1511-1524 AD). It cant be definitely said whether he went there during the reign of Sultan Sikander . On the other hand if he had remain submissive to his brother , its is rather strange that he is not mentioned at all. He is not mentioned to have been implicated in the plot attempted by 22 nobles of his Kingdom in 1501 , to dethrone him and place in his stead prince Fateh Khan, his younger brother. The plot having been  divulged to the Sultan, he deported or executed all of the participators. The deported nobles like Said Khan, Babo Khan, Rai Ganesh, took refuge in the Gwalior where from they were expelled by Raja Mansingh at the protest of the Sultan. Many of the conspirators including Tatar Khan Lodi of the Punjab seems to have made their way to the kingdom of Gujarat. But it cant be said whether Alam Khanwas one of them. Alam Khan according to the testimony of recorded history, came to the kingdom of Gujarat during the reign of Ibrahim Lodi, and in 1523-24 AD, he stated, one day to Muzaffar Shah, that he had been staying with his majesty for a good time and asked for his permission to depart and contest his paternal throne, in response to an invitation sent to him by the nobles of the Punjab who had been tired of the right-handed and oppressive poking of Sultan Ibrahim. Alam Khan got the permission to his fortune. The Sultan gave him, in addition, suitable amount for outfit and preparations. It is not unlikely that Alam Khan was a member of the confederacy of the nobles of eastern districts, who under Islam Khan, son of Azam Humayun Khan Sarwani, rebelled against Sultan Ibrahim Lodi during the early part of his reign. The league included Said Khan, governor of Lucknow Sarkar, Bahar Khan Nuhani of the Sarkar of Bihar and Nasir Khan Nuhani, governor of Ghazipur.

The rebels were however defeated by Ibrahim after hard and contested battles fought in Awadh. Daulat Khan Lodi, governor pf Punjab, revolted some time later and had the support of his many sons who held districts in that province , and also officers and zamindars of the localities. Daulat Khan in order to strengthen his cause, invited Alam Khan from Gujarat because the latter had a better claim to the sovereignty of the country. Alam Khan thus came away in the Punjab though his sons Bhikan Khan and Jalal Khan remained attached to Sultan Ibrahim, the latter up to the battle of Delhi, in 1525. the fourth indian expedition of Babur (1525), resulting in the conquest of Punajb, was undertaken at the request of the party of Afghan nobles, headed by Alam Khan Lodi and Ghazi Khan Lodi, sons of Daulat Khan Lodi, who went to Kabul with presents which included Indian Mangoes and 'Pan' (Betel-leaf). After the conquest of Punjab, Alam Khan was given by Babur the Jagir of Dipalpur (Montgomery district, Punjab, Pakistan) and Ghazi Khan was given Sultanpur instead of Lahore which he coveted. Alam Khan could not retain his jagir for long time, he was driven away by Daulat Khan. Alam sought Babur's intervention against Daulat Khan who had meanwhile driven away the Baburi officers from Punjab. While at Kabul, Alam Khan appears to have entered into a pact with Babur to the effect that Babur would help Alam to regain his paternal throne, and that Babur would remain in the occupation of Punjab. After Babur's departure to Kabul, Alam approached his (Babur's) officers in the Punjab for the promised help but they refused to do so unless Ghazi Khan Lodi whom they distrusted had given hostages as pledge for good conduct. Upon this, Alam Khan entered into a treaty with Daulat Khan , agreeing to transfer to Daulat the Punjab and retaining for himself , the rest of Lodi empire. It was perhaps on this occasion that he publicly assumed the title of Sultan Alauddin Alam Shah, a name by which he is most often distinguished from his name-sakes.

Alauddin's troops swelled to 40 thousands. He marched straight upon the city of Delhi , being reinforced by Ismail Khan Jilawani and Jalal Khan Jighat and nearly overwhelmed Sultan Ibrahim's army in an organized night-attack. The situation was retrieved by Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, who stood calmly at the center though the flanks had collapsed and delivered an attack on Alam's troops engaged in collecting booty , as soon as the day dawned , Jalal Khan son of Sulatn Alam fled towards the Doab and Alam Khan took the same way till he reached the fort of gingata in the Dooris. He later surrendered himself to Mir Khalifa , Babur's Wakil-us-sultana. He walked into Babur's court naked and greatly distressed. Babur condoned his treachery and didnt speak speak a word of reproach. On the other hand every body in the court stood up when Alam Khan was brought in.

Alam Khan is next noticed as commanding the left center of Babur's army at the battle of Khanwa in which his son Jalal Khan was also present. Earlier he held the nominated command of a section of Babur's army at Panipat. Alam Khan is described in Babur's memoirs as a "prince who has near access to the Royal majesty". He seems to have left Babur soon after , for , we learn from Babur. about the capture by the Mughals, of one of Alam Khan Lodi in the battle of Dalman on the bank of Gumti. Badauni identifies him with Alam Khan  Lodi. He was sent as a prisoner to Qila-i-Zafar in Badkhshan where from he escaped and reached Gujarat via Baluchistan and Sindh, during the reign of Bahadur Shah. He became, along with his sons, one of the principle instruments in stiffening the attitude of Sultan Bahadur towards Humayun. Humayun in his third letter to Sultan Bahadur complains of unfriendly act of the Gujarat in giving asylum to his rebel Kinsman Zaman Mirza and Alam Khan bin Bahlul Lodi and demanded Zaman's surrender or expulsion from Gujarat. Bahadur rejected Humayun's demand and at the suggestion of Tatar Khan bin Alam Khan , placed 20 lacs of tankas at the disposal of Tatar Khan for equipping an army. Tatar Khan boastingly marched towards Bayana with a view to capture Agra. His mercenary troops deserted him in large numbers. He gave a fight to Mirza hindal with his remnants near Bayana and was defeated and slain.

Alam Khan is not mentioned in the troubled days of Bahadur Shah's struggle with Humayun . Evil days befell Gujarat after Bahadur Shah's death in 1537 AD. A contest developed between powerful nobles for the custody of the King's person. When Daria Khan raised Mahmud II on the throne, Alam Khan became attached to the former as the custodian of the palace , and commanded a portion of Daria Khan's army and shared his defeat in the hands of Safdar Khan entitled Alam Khan. Daria Khan saved his life by flight to Sher Shah Sur at Delhi . Alam Khan Lodi and Shujaat Khan were executed by order of Mahmud II after his triumphant entry into Ahmadabad at the instigation of Jargi, the bird-catcher. Their bodies rotted for three days before being buried by Safdar Khan. Thus ended the tragic career of Sultan Alauddin Alam Lodi. If he was 25 years old at the death of his father in 1489 (he must have been older than that , for his son Tatar Khan held the governorship of Buksar at that time) his age a2 years. He was too ambitious to follow a line of action with consistency. Nor can he be exonerated for inviting a foreign prince to invade India and obtain in the conquered land a firm footing. He turned a patriot after realizing the error when he joined Ghazi Khan for expelling the Mughals from Punjab and fought his nephew Ibrahim Lodi at the same time. He failed because fighting enemies at two fronts is a difficult game and that too by a rebel leader. During his second stay in Gujarat, he being in dotage, plays an almost insignificant part. A scheming rebel without great qualities of a soldier doesnt deserve a better fate.

(Excerpts from "Proceedings of All Pakistan history conference, 1951, from  Dr.A.Haleem's article, from page-218 to 223)

Shared by Khan Barmazid

Thursday, 21 January 2016

QK: CPEC a backgrounder

Exclusive to QK by S.Afridi.

This is an overview of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) timeline from its inception to the present.


Prior to drafting the 11th Five Year Plan (2006-10) in late 2004 the NDRC Task Force forecasted considerable obstacles to China’s growth. Despite bold targets for internal reform and the extension of commercial activities beyond China’s East coastal regions, a consensus emerged within NDRC’s think tanks that growth at 10+% would be unsustainable beyond 2010 and would taper down to below 7% by 2015 beyond which an average 3% growth rates would be ambitious. Despite the course of reform proposed in the plan to counter identified obstacles to rapid growth (local monopolies, uneconomic segmentation of internal markets, required consolidation for primary industries) there was a single prominent hurdle to China’s growth ambitions; Sustaining China’s energy consumption. China’s Primary Commercial Energy Consumption beyond 2030 raised alarming possibilities.

China’s foreign trade dependence grew from 40% to 64% and energy consumption had come at a high cost in inefficient resource consumption. Resource conservation, which became an important feature of the 11th Five Year Plan, though novel, would not allow growth targets to be met beyond 2010. The entire resource utilisation model had to changed before the 12th Five year Plan and the cost of resource consumption had to be lowered considerably (almost 17%) for central provinces (Sichuan, Shaanxi & Chongqing) to be ‘opened up’. The ‘guideline’ indicated the growth model had to change from being based on ‘growth by resource consumption’ to one driven by ‘growth through resource utilisation efficiency’. Access to economically advantageous primary resources became a central feature for future plans.

The Opening up of the Central Provinces of China and the provision of competitive energy to these provinces faces considerable geographical hurdles. Their link to the West passes through the narrow gateway of Gansu beyond which lies the Xinjiang and its main trade nodes, Urumqi in the North & Kashi/Kashghar in the South. Much like its other Asian economic rivals (Japan & S-Korea) of the 90s, China’s growth is dependent upon access to natural resources and minerals from outside its economic region. The most economically competitive resources lie further afield to China’s North (Mongolia & Russia), West (Central Asia) and South West (Iran & GCC). Without economically viable access to these resources China’s plans to ‘open’ its central provinces to sustain its rapid growth would falter.

Though other primary resources (financial-capital, human-capital etc) also formed a major part of the Five Year Plans referred to in the article the focus will be limited to the question of trade in energy and mineral related primary resources which are of the utmost importance to the area of focus.

CPEC Timeline:

Though the Karakuram Highway (KKH) was constructed during the 1980s, in truth neither the Chinese economy nor that of Pakistan was able to take advantage of KKHW for decades after its construction. On China’s part, the tense Western border with the Soviet Union made any real effort to develop its Western regions a non-starter. Xinjiang was viewed by Beijing through a security lens, not an economical one. The softening of Moscow’s direct grip, emergence of strong and uncompromising post-Soviet dictatorships in Central Asia with an under-developed resource base changed Beijing’s outlook and the rise of China’s internal market economies coupled with their resource consumption also assisted in the bringing a less combative stance on its Western border. As a result the task force for the 9th Five Year Plan (FYP) proposed a course of action to encourage a concerted effort by China to facilitate trade in base industry raw materials from its Western and Northern neighbours.
Meeting these goals of the 9th FYP manifested itself in China’s instrumental role in the creation of the Central Asian Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) with the ostensible goal to increase trade and cooperation between post-soviet central asian states however China’s investment in CAREC programs tilted heavily towards promoting and safeguarding base industry raw material imports from the region into China. This also accounts for the slow progress of CAREC on inter regional connectivity, other than with China, since its launch in 1997 with the assistance of ADB. Having established the treaties and bilateral relationships necessary for raw material imports from Central Asia, the task force for the 10th FYP proposed further investment into securing the import of natural resources through a structured and sustainable mechanism. This led to concerted efforts into constructing the West-East Pipeline System as part of the 10th FYP to form the bedrock of China’s future resource imports from Central Asia. The Taskforce for the 11th FYP proposed the acceleration of investments into the region post the completion of the first phase of the West-East pipeline project (in 2004). This manifested in the revamping of China’s role in CAREC which resulted in China raising the stakes by involving the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD), Islamic Development Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September 2004 to fund CAREC projects. The result was a concerted effort by CAREC, led by China, to provide a blueprint for future collaboration and regional trade in the form of CAREC’s Comprehensive Action Plan (2006).

These developments along with China’s bilateral and multilateral negotiations within Central Asia had not gone unnoticed by the then government of Pakistan which was involved in negotiations with China for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and which saw China’s growing focus and investment in Central Asia as an opportunity to propose a strategic partnership to China based on trade and extending China’s regionalism efforts to secure resources. The series of discussions between China and Pakistan during 2005 led to the formal acknowledgement of Pakistan’s offer to create a “Trade & Energy Corridor” between the two countries linking the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar to Kashghar/Kashi in China’s Xinjiang. Pakistan’s primary focus in these discussions was to open up Pakistan’s ‘National Trade Corridor’ (NTC) program for China’s investment and cooperation. The Chinese Embassy in Pakistan made the formal announcement to acknowledge the corridor and establish a set of “Early Harvest” projects centred around a bilateral free trade zone and the consideration of a ‘Trade & Energy Corridor’. Subsequent discussions between Pakistan and China from November 2006 onwards focused around numerous projects forming part of three separate programs.

The Three Programs:

1. Short-term (Early Harvest):
Utilise existing infrastructure development projects to build a land route linking two bilateral Special Economic & Free Trade Zones of Kashghar & Gawadar utilising, realigning & upgrading the existing KKH and link it to Pakistan’s Motorway Program as part of NTC.

2. Medium Term:
Establish a “Trade and Energy Corridor” by building a dedicated rail and land route from Gwadar’s Container Terminal to advance freight and commercial traffic to Kashghar. Build power projects focused upon the utilisation of Pakistan’s Coal reserves in Sindh and River water systems in Northern Pakistan.

3. Long term:
Build Oil, Refining, PetroChemical & Storage Complex at Gwadar, with Oil & Gas pipelines from Gwadar to Kashghar extending into the 2nd phase of the West-East Pipeline Complex in China and linking China’s Gas field investments in Iran to Pakistan’s PetroChemical Complex and Pipeline.
Establish a dedicated Freight Railway Route (including Oil Frieght) from Gwadar’s Container Terminal (& Petrochemical Complex) to Kashghar. This rail-link would be formally incorporated into CAREC’s dedicated Rail-Link for Central Asia. Further the program proposes to establish a link between the Eurasian Continental Land Bridge to Peshawar, with bifurcating offshoots from Quetta into Iran leading into Turkey/EU & Quetta into Kandahar leading into Central Asia.

In order to facilitate the utilisation of the Short Term Program, the NDRC task force constituted in November 2008 for the 12th FYP proposed ‘formally’ bringing Pakistan into the fold of CAREC and realign and incorporate Pakistan’s Planning Commission’s own National Trade Corridor Improvement Program (NTCIP) into CAREC’s Corridors. Pakistan was formally inducted into CAREC in 2010 and NTCIP’s Motorway Program was linked with CAREC to provide funding for its completion as an extension to CAREC’s Corridor 5. China State Construction & Engineering Corporation Limited (CSCEC) was tasked to conduct the feasibility study for completing Karachi-Faisalabad Motorway as part of NTCIP. A further proposal was made to link the two CAREC Corridor 5 nodes of Peshawar and Quetta with each other to facilitate resource extraction from China’s mining investments in Afghanistan and would also function as the parallel road route to the long term dedicated railway route and pipeline structure from Gwadar to Kashghar. Both the NTCIP Motorway program and the linking of CAREC Corridor 5’s nodes of Peshawar and Quetta were to be completed before the Mid-Term Review of the 13th FYP in August 2018.

For the Medium and Long Term Programs NDRC launched a formal study (2008-12) with assistance from the Planning Commission of Pakistan (with considerable work by National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Pakistan and Tsinghua University China) which was incorporated into a larger, more comprehensive study of extending China’s trade and resource import routes under the coming 13th FYP (later announced as the Silk Route Economic Belt initiative). In early 2013 the initial Feasibility Study & Preliminary Design for the Pakistan-China “Trade and Energy Corridor” from Kashghar to Gwadar was approved by NDRC and shared with the Government of Pakistan for its approval. The proposed route linked the upgraded KKH to Pindi Gheb and then Pindi Gheb to the NTCIP junction on the M8 motorway onwards onto Gwadar. Furthermore, Pakistan’s Trade and Energy Corridor was to linked with West to East routes in order to provide viable and economically competitive extraction routes into China’s investments in raw material fields within Iran and Afghanistan. Pakistan existing railway route, main line 2 (ML2), was to be upgraded and developed as the main route linking Gwadar to Kashghar. The target for the completion of the Trade and Energy Corridor was between prior to the Mid-Term review of the 14th FYP in August 2023.

In June 2013 a new government took office in Pakistan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directed efforts to be made to bring completion times on the Trade and Energy Corridor forward to ensure project completion within 2017 and prior to the next General Election in 2018. The inability to provide firm commitment on 2017 completion times led to an alternative “Early Harvest” route being proposed to the Chinese government in the Prime Minister’s visit to China in July 2013, soon after taking office, to formally sign 25 agreements relating to the ongoing Trade and Energy Corridor. The amended proposal was to upgrade the existing National highway Five (N-5) to ensure completion of a viable route by 2017 and the upgrade of the existing railway Main Line One (ML1) to ensure completion by 2017. Pakistan also agreed to undertake the funding gaps for the amended proposals. Both the amendments ensured that the railway and road routes utilised existing infrastructure and passed through the Prime Minister’s electoral heartland, especially Lahore. The existing projects that formed the Short Term Program for the “Trade and Energy Corridor” were bundled together with the amended proposals and repackaged into a grand scheme labelled as the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Though no formal announcement was made for the amendment to the N-5 route, maps had been issued by the Planning Commission and also through the various think tanks, including the Pakistan-China Joint Think Tank, showing the N-5 route beginning at the N-15 node at Hasan Abdal and ending at Khanewal, via Lahore, to be the main route for CPEC. During the subsequent year the PMLn government faced increased pressure in the Senate of Pakistan by the ANP, PPP and PMLq representatives to declare the formal route of CPEC. As part of the previous government some representatives from all three political parties are aware of the original negotiations with the Chinese government and the feasibility studies conducted by NDRC for NTCIP’s Trade and Energy Corridor. Before the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue the secretary of planning acknowledged that changes had been made to the original recommendations of the NDRC but had been done so on the request of the Chinese Ambassador and not by the government of Pakistan. The government of Pakistan suffered a setback after the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan declined any role by himself or his government in any amendments. Shortly afterwards the Minister for Planning acknowledged the existence of three separate routes and that the government would concentrate on an “Eastern” route (via Lahore) to reap the benefits of Early Harvest Projects. After enduring a year of opposition and political pressure the government of Pakistan finally went on to publish maps for three separate routes;

Western Route: NDRC’s proposed linking of Corridor 5 nodes of Peshawar & Quetta with Gwadar (part of NDRC’s Short Term Program being funded through CAREC)

Central Route: Long Term Trade Energy Corridor as per NDRC study
(part of NDRC’s Medium Term Program)

Eastern Route: NTCIP’s Motorway program amended with an extension to Lahore (N-5 upgrade).
(part of NDRC’s Short Term Program with an amendment to link Lahore)

Despite efforts to amend the route to the Prime minister’s request, concerted opposition has ensured that CPEC would not follow the N-5 contour, from its intersection with N-15 at Hassan-Abdal, to Lahore. However the Lahore-Khanewal section of the amendment has been incorporated into the original NTCIP proposal.

In summary, after two years of trying to amend the original plans laid down by NDRC the PMLn government’s total contribution to the original short term program has been the inclusion of the Lahore-Khanewal stretch into the Motorway program and the inclusion of the ML1 railway upgrade.


Just to put things into perspective, CPEC is part of a wider picture. As part of the 13th FYP the Government of China has identified eleven (11) separate nodes for land based trade imports and between them they provide six (6) trade corridors. Pakistan is linked to a single (1) node out of eleven (11) and part of a single (1) trade corridor out of six (6).

The 6 Corridors have been given the following informal names:

1. CMREC (China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor)
2. NELB (New Eurasian Land Bridge)
3. CCWAEC (China-Central & West Asia Economic Corridor)
4. CICPEC (China-Indo-China Peninsula Economic Corridor) – Greater Mekong Sub-region
5. CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor)
6. BCIMEC (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor)

Note: – the most ambitious and politically sensitive corridor in terms of its goal, extension & effect on Asia & the World’s Political Economy is the BCIMEC. It was originally proposed during the 2008 Task Force for the 12th FYP by the government of Yunan as a Third Eurasian Land Bridge. It is also the most unlikely to materialise as proposed.