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ISLAMABAD: The Cabinet Committee on CPEC (CCoCPEC), which is scheduled to meet on Thursday (today), will consider four options to resolve land ownership dispute between Ministry of Maritime Affairs (MoMA) and Pakistan Navy (PN) at Gwadar Port, sources close to SAPM on CPEC told Business Recorder.

Sharing the details, the sources said, in compliance with CCoCPEC decision of March 9, 2021, a Note for Chairman CCoCPEC stating the ground position and implementation plan was submitted by Ministry of Defence (MoD) on June 10, 2021 through Ministry of Maritime Affairs (MoMA) that endorsed its comments of 26 Aug 26, 2021.

Chairman CCoCPEC, in his Note approved the following: “MoD may be directed to implement the decisions of the President, Prime Minster, Cabinet and CCoCPEC and to come up with clear vacation plan with reasonable timeline for the vacation of 72 acres of land at Mouza Shamba Ismail at Gwadar, presently under possession of Pak Navy.”

According to sources, MoD has serious reservations about above mentioned comments of MoMA.

MoD and Pak Navy PN) have always complied with Government directives without fail. As regards handover of PN land at Shamba Ismail to GPA, PN has been forthcoming and has voluntarily given up land holding for the sake of national interests. PN vacated 500 acres (out of 584 acres) in 2014 and transferred the land to GPA as directed by Prime Minister’s Office on May 28, 2014.

In 2019, PN voluntarily vacated another piece of 12 acres of land for passage of Gwadar East Bay Expressway, purely in the national interest. As regards the remaining 72 acres, MoD had submitted a workable implementation plan to Chairman CCoCPEC in Jun 2021 through MoMA.

After lapse of more than 02 months, MoMA endorsed its comments and forwarded to Chairman CCoCPEC. The Chairman CPEC has again directed for submission of a clear vacation plan with timelines.

The sources said, in order to evolve consensus among stakeholders, MoD requested Special Advisor to Prime Minister on CPEC, Khalid Mansoor to chair a meeting on Oct 12, 2021. The SAPM, acknowledging the security imperatives of Gwadar Port and related seaborne activity, directed MoD to submit the summary to CCoCPEC highlighting the critical requirement of land for PN to ensure security of the Gwadar Port obtaining fresh comments of MoMA and those of GDA.

MoMA, in its letter has reiterated their stance of Aug 26, 2021. Regarding allotment of 12000 acres of land to Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) in the Joint Cantonment Gwadar as highlighted by MoMA, there does not exist any Joint-Cantonment in Gwadar notified by Military Lands. However, zoning/ master plan for Cantonments Department of MoD, a cantonment at Gwadar, at a total land of 9227 acres is yet to be prepared by GHQ.

Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) has proposed a joint survey by all stakeholders for allotment of land to PN by Revenue Department, Government of Balochistan, if any, according to the land zoning of the master plan. PN is responsible for Maritime Defence and ensuring security of Maritime Zones, ports and harbours in accordance with Article 245 of Constitution of Pakistan.

PN is clearly assigned responsibility to “defend creek areas, ports and harbours and offshore infrastructure” under Joint Military Directive-2018 Article 61b (3). MoD/ PN upon detailed study/ analysis have a considered view that the geographical dictates make Shamba Ismail the only central advantageous location for seaward for security/ response generation. PN’s sole purpose for retention of said land with seafront is to ensure PN’s timely response for defence/ security of Gwadar Port against ubiquitous asymmetric threat.

Ministry of Defence is also of the view that PN due to this very rationale acquired the land in 1980, well before inception of Gwadar Master Plan.

The sources maintained that keeping in view the ground realities, PN’s mandate for defence/ security of Gwadar Port, following implementation/ vacation plan is submitted for consideration of CCoCPEC: (i) PN is to coordinate with GPA and identify the location/ coordinates of 20 acres of land at Shamba Ismail, Gwadar essential for seaward security;(ii) GPA is to transfer identified 20 acres of land at Shamba Ismail, Gwadar to PN ;(iii) PN while retaining possession of 20 acres of land, is to vacate remaining land at Shamba Ismail within 03 months of transfer of 20 acres of land by GPA. Subsequently, GPA is to handover the land vacated by PN to concession holder and; (iv) in lieu of 20 acres’ land awarded to, PN, GDA is to provide GPA 20 acres of land at alternate location. GPA is to coordinate to handing over land to concession holder.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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