Pakistan has decided to reduce investment in a railway project under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor by $2 billion (approximately Rs 1,468 crore) after the new government expressed concerns about the country’s debt, Reuters reported.
“Pakistan is a poor country that cannot afford huge burden of the loans,” Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed said at a press conference in Lahore on Monday. “Therefore, we have reduced the loan from China under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for rail projects from $8.2 billion (approximately Rs 60,000 crore) to $6.2 billion (Rs 45,000 crore).”
The controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is part of China’s Belt and Road initiative. India has opposed the project as part of it would pass through the disputed territory in Kashmir.
Since Imran Khan took over as the new prime minister, Pakistan has attempted to rethink several Belt and Road Initiative projects in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged about $60 billion. The “Silk Road” train project involves revamping the colonial-era line stretching 1,872 kilometres from Karachi to Peshawar.
Although the government expressed its willingness to proceed with the Karachi-Peshawar Main Line-1, it wants to reduce the cost involved, said Rasheed. “The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is like the backbone for Pakistan, but our eyes and ears are open,” he said.
Although he supported the economic corridor, Rasheed said he also wanted the country’s railways to be under minimum debt, reported The Express Tribune. However, he was unable to explain the projects which the government will shelve in order to reduce Pakistan’s investment.
Both countries in the past have agreed to swiftly complete the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to better promote bilateral ties.