QUETTA, Dec 21: The Gwadar port became fully functional on Sunday after a ship carrying fertiliser from Qatar anchored at the port.

Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Nabil Ahmed Gabol and Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani attended the ceremony held at the port to mark its opening.

Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani had been invited to the ceremony but he could not attend because of other engagements.

Another ship from Qatar, also carrying fertiliser, will anchor at the port on Monday. Over the next four months over 21 more ships are expected to anchor at the country’s third port after Karachi and Port Qasim.

Mr Nabil Gabol said at the ceremony that Gwadar would generate massive economic activities in the region.

He said the port would play an important role for development of the country and create thousands of jobs for local people and change the socio-economic conditions of the area.

Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani said that Gwadar port was the asset of the Baloch people and “we would never let the Baloch majority converted into a minority in Gwadar”.

He said the agreement signed with a Singapore company for operating the port would be reviewed and amended if necessary.

“The agreement must be to the benefit of Balochistan and its people.”

He said that all federating units must get their rights in the light of the Lahore Resolution of 1940.

Paying tribute to PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, the chief minister said Ms Bhutto could keep the country united, but since she was no more there it was the responsibility of the federal government to protect the federation by giving rights to the provinces.

He directed the Gwadar Port Authority to provide jobs to unemployed locals because it was their right and they must be given priority.

He took serious notice of labourers having been brought from Karachi for offloading ship and directed the officials concerned to engage local people for the job.

He said his government had worked for making the port functional in order to provide jobs to the local people and directed the MPA from Gwadar to ensure that local people got jobs in the port city.

“If local people did not benefit from the port, the mega project would be useless for our people,” the chief minister said.

Nawab Raisani said that his government was taking initiatives to give control to local people over their resources and ensure their rights.

The chief minister thanked President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Mr Nabil Gabbol for taking personal interests in making the port functional.

He said the port was important not only for the region but it had international significance because of its location.

GPA chairman Admiral (retd) Ehsan Saeed and representative of the Singapore company Khurram Abbas also spoke on the occasion.

Balochistan Ministers Younas Mullazai, Asim Kurd Gailu and Hammal Kalmati, Gawadar district nazim Abdul Ghafoor Kalmati and other senior officials attended the ceremony.

APP adds: The Gwadar port is expected to generate billions of rupees in revenue and create thousands of jobs.

According to a report, Gwadar will serve as an energy corridor for Central Asia, Middle East, South Asia and parts of west Asia. The port is also important for China. Pakistan will get a strategic depth southwest from its naval base in Karachi. The expected future business hub will provide the cheapest trade route to ships. It is located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, close to the Straits of Hormuz, through which more than 13 million barrels of oil passes each day.

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