It remains a mystery why the current government continues to rule by ordinances when it has a majority in parliament. Not only does the practice of issuing ordinances through the president have questionable democratic credentials, presidential ordinances have built-in lapse dates, which is not the best thing when any permanent legislation is to be created. This is why the decision of the government to issue an ordinance to establish a CPEC Authority on the day of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing comes across as a bit hasty. There is already consensus around much of the CPEC framework in parliament.
Moreover, it is not the absence of a CPEC Authority that is responsible for the slowdown in CPEC-related projects in the country. The overall slowdown in the economy has a much bigger role to play in that. Thus, the official explanation that the authority would accelerate the pace of CPEC-related projects and unlock new production and value chain networks seems to also be a bit of a stretch.
Speaking in Beijing, the prime minister said that the authority was needed to allow CPEC projects skip being stuck on the desks of various ministries. he also emphasised that Pakistan is open for investment; reassurances have also been provided to Chinese investments. And Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtiar has also gone on record to clarify that the pace of CPEC projects has not slowed down. During his China visit, Khan is also expected to lobby Chinese President Xi Jinping over the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir; it will be interesting to see if the Chinese president will take up the issue with Indian Prime Minister Modi during their scheduled meeting this same week. This being his third visit to China in a single year, PM Imran Khan has shown clear intent in cementing the relationship between the two countries. What results this visit will yield will be awaited by us all.