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Amid opposition uproar in Pak, Imran Khan's govt passes CPEC Authority bill

ANI | Updated: Feb 02, 2021 14:36 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], February 2 (ANI): Amid ruckus by the opposition members, the Imran Khan-led government on Monday hurriedly passed three bills in the National Assembly, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority Bill, reported Dawn.
During the passage of the bill, opposition members protested in front of the dais of National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, after he refused to give them the floor to speak on the issue of price hike with particular reference to the recent increase in prices of electricity and petroleum products.
The opposition raised slogans like 'Sharam karo, haya karo, speaker ko riha karo' (Be ashamed, release the speaker) and 'Bijli chor, aata chor aur cheeni chor' (Electricity thieves, flour thieves and sugar thieves), Dawn reported.
The CPEC Authority Ordinance was promulgated by President Dr Arif Alvi in October 2019 before Imran Khan's visit to China. Later, the government had succeeded in getting another 120-day extension for the ordinance, but it finally lapsed on May 31, 2020, as the government failed to get it passed from either of the two houses of parliament.
Later, the government reintroduced the ordinance in the National Assembly in the form of a bill in October last year, reported Dawn.

Last month, the opposition had staged a walkout from the Senate session on Friday over the Pakistan government's "inadequate" response to their queries on CPEC Authority ordinance. They had also questioned the meeting of Lt-Gen retired Asim Saleem Bajwa with the Chinese ambassador when the CPEC Authority had no chairman and the CPEC Authority's ordinance had lapsed.
Bajwa is a controversial figure and he was made the chairman of the CPEC Authority. He was also exposed by local media of having several offshore businesses, including more than 100 companies and franchises in the US, UAE and Canada in which his families were involved.
In 2019, ahead of his visit to China, Imran Khan had appointed Bajwa as its chairperson. Prior to that, the Planning and Development Ministry used to oversee the CPEC projects.
China forced CPEC Authority on Pakistan because it wanted the army to be directly involved in the CPEC portfolio as Beijing was reportedly irked with Khan's slow movement on the project.
The CPEC Authority ordinance by Imran Khan Government gave immunity to the chairman and staff from all legal proceedings, in turn protecting them from National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), and police to institute cases. (ANI)