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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the Chinese Delegation coming to review plans for options regarding the proposed economic corridor would reach Pakistan on Monday. – File Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the Chinese Delegation coming to review plans for options regarding the proposed economic corridor would reach Pakistan on Monday. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday expressed optimism on the possibility of transforming Gwadar in Balochistan into a successful free port on the same lines as Hong Kong to attract foreign investment and boost national economy.

The prime minister was chairing a meeting at the prime minister's office to discuss the Kashgar to Gwadar economic corridor that would open up new areas for economic activity and generate employment.

He announced that the Chinese Delegation coming to review plans for options regarding the proposed economic corridor would reach Pakistan on Monday.

Sharif also approved in principal upgradation of the existing railway track system between Karachi and Peshawar at a cost of US 2.7 billion dollars.

The two-year project would modernise signaling, communications, locomotives and enable the trains to run at a speed of 120 km per hour. This would also shorten the time needed to travel between Karachi to Lahore from 18 to 12 hours and between Karachi to Peshawar from 27 to 17 hours.

Minister for Railways Saad Rafique said around 67 per cent of the country's rail track was overage and so was its entire locomotives fleet and signaling system.

The prime minister also proposed construction of a new airport for Islamabad at Rawat, construction of new tunnels, train links and roads across the country.

He, however, noted that the economic activity in the country could only be expedited once there was peace and tranquility.

Mentioning the recent deliberations of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet that discussed the issue of extremism and terrorism, the premier said there was also a need to address the energy crisis on urgent basis.

PM Sharif stressed the importance of a meaningful interaction with militants and said it will help address all issues. “Importance of dialogue could not be ruled out,” he said.

“The country could not progress unless law and order situation improved… would pave way for economic prosperity, said the prime minister recalling his visit to China where the Chinese side expressed concerns about security situation in Pakistan.

He said Pakistan had to tender apologies for the killings of Chinese nationals in terror-related incidents. “How long will we tender apologies? We need to rectify the wrongdoing,” the prime minister said.

Referring to the Economic Corridor, the prime minister said both sides were taking keen interest in the project as not only China but the entire region would benefit from this mega project.

He said Pakistan-China Economic Corridor was future of the country. He recalled his earlier meetings which discussed the Trade Corridor from Kashgar to Khunjerab and Gwadar and in principal, approved the proposed alignment of Pak-China Trade Corridor, with the directions to further evaluate the proposal in terms of time and cost efficiency.

“Gwadar Port would help reduce the time needed for transportation of Chinese exports from 16 to 4 days, besides reducing the cost considerably.”

The prime minister said that as the mega project would go through underdeveloped areas of Pakistan, it would also help develop those areas and bring them at par with the developed ones. “It would connect all the provinces and all the regions would equally reap the benefits of the project,” he added.

He said the existing Motorways could be handed over to the private sector to generate around Rs 250 billion annually that would help fund construction of new roads. The prime minister directed that the existing and the new motorways be linked with the highways to improve connectivity.

Nawaz Sharif said that the proposed tunnel through the Margalla hills to link Islamabad with Haripur would provide a shorter route to the commuters of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mansehra and Abbottabad.

He said the Islamabad Expressway would be extended up to Muzaffarabad and Lower Topa - Havellian portion would be soon built. He added that the Islamabad-Muzaffarabad Expressway project was his vision and it had been planned in his previous government.

The premier also pointed that the new airport being constructed near Fatehjang had design faults and there was a need to have a new airport near Rawat that would be linked with Islamabad and Rawalpindi through train links and an expressway.

The road between Zero Point and Rawat would be built like Shaikh Zaid Road in Dubai having business and residential centers along it, he added.

He said there was no space in the budget for such huge projects, however there was a need to have out-of-the box solutions to auction the land, along this highway in a transparent manner and generate funds.

Prime Minister Sharif said similar projects could be conceived in Lahore and Karachi, including underground Metro Train service in the two mega cities and added that China had shown keen interest in the project.

Comments (29) Closed

Amjad Wyne Aug 23, 2013 08:48pm

Not sure if the prime minister understands the relationship that Hong Kong has with the mainland China. It belongs to China.

Abdul Malik Aug 23, 2013 09:16pm

Whereas the PM's intentions are laudable, but in reality he is living in a fool's paradise. Knowing the level of corruption at government as well as the business community levels, HK status to Gwadar is a far cry.

SYED Aug 23, 2013 09:17pm

Mr Prime Minister Shareef, You and your family had bought a lot of land around Rewat and therefore you want to discard the new Airport which is already constructed near Fatehjang named as Benazir Bhutto Airport. This airport should never have been named Benazir Bhutto Airport and let it remain as Ghandara Airport. Asif Zardari during his tenure had changed many roads, airports, towns etc,etc and you as Prime Minister should revert all those to their original names

Jack Aug 23, 2013 09:52pm

Everything looks on paper. The dilemma is that nothing materializes after that. We have seen this for the last 20+ years in Pakistan, unfortunately

Irshad Ali Aug 23, 2013 10:46pm

It is good to imagine grandiose projects as ultimately some of them will be implemented if not all with determination and planning. Barren minds are devoid of success.

Nadeem (US) Aug 23, 2013 10:58pm

Mr. Prime Minister, please show some interest in Iran-Pak gas pipeline. This project is in best interet of Pakistan. Please support gas pipe line project the way you support nuclear project.

fiaz ahmed Aug 23, 2013 11:37pm

is our PM cracking up, he wants to build new airport at Rawat because new airport being build has what design fault, only fault we see is Musharaf laid the stone, get real PM, your money is not in Pakistan, so why should you worry.

pashtunyar Aug 23, 2013 11:54pm

Nawaz for giving 'USA like status' to Pakistan! He is busy building castles in the air...Zardari atleast bought a real castle!

Shoaib Wahab Aug 23, 2013 11:56pm

The plans sound pretty decent and can certainly improve the economic situation of the country, but the most important issue is terrorism which if not addressed will hinder the growth plans...

Hasan Aug 24, 2013 02:49am

It seems like this time the Prime Minister Sharif is doing some thinking. All such proposals should be welcomed. However, at the same time all these issues should be freely discussed at all suitable forums including local governments. Free debate has at least two positives effects:

  1. It stimulates thinking and helps make an educated decision which is owned by a majority in the nation.

  2. It leads to tolerance as people can vent out their grievances. And this essential for development of future leadership.

As most development projects have local consequences, local governments should be allowed to freely debated all new projects. Old habits of controlling Local Governments should come an end. This is the most important task for the Sharifs given their aptitude and skill in manipulating the Local Goverment system.

Humayun Aug 24, 2013 07:28am

Interesting Vision of the PM "the Islamabad-Muzaffarabad Expressway project was his vision and it had been planned in his previous government."

Gawadar interests Pakistan but are there any tangible development, infrastructure, agri and education projects for Baluchistan?

Azhar Hussain Aug 24, 2013 08:32am

The new airport being constructed near Fatehjang is not even complete and our Prime Minister wants to build a new one near Rawat? I am speechless, Mr. Prime Minister!

Malik Aug 24, 2013 10:10am

Do it asap

Taha Lateef Aug 24, 2013 12:50pm

It would be much better to construct overhead light rail systems in Karachi and Lahore and as no one knows how the exact situation of the underground water, sewage and gas connections nor about the condition of the soil and its stability due to seepage of water and sewage. Moreover the design faults in the Islamabad airport should not mean spending another couple of billion dollars to make a new airport. Rather the faults should be rectified.

If a new airport is to be built, build one in Karachi outside the city. The current airport is within the city. Don't you think it is dangerous to have four landing strips within a city having 20 million population with three of them being military bases. Move out the three air force bases from within the city and auction the land. That alone would create enough funds for relocation of the bases.

Shah Aug 24, 2013 12:56pm

I really hope you can get it done Sir... we are with you BUT.... how about first giving Pakistan the status of terror free and peaceful nation?

Sharan Aug 24, 2013 01:37pm

By expressing a "Hong Kong-like" status, is Pakistan planning to hand over the territory to China for a hundred years (with the hope/prayer that China will leave thereafter)? Pakistan has already ceded sovereignty to China in Kashmir, so this may be an extension of the concept.

Ahmed Aug 24, 2013 03:56pm

What a nonsense proposal to construct new airport near Rawat while work on new airport near Fatehjang is almost 80% complete. Please do not waste the money of this country in your wrong decisions.

omar Aug 24, 2013 05:00pm

The prime minister also proposed construction of a new airport for Islamabad at Rawat, construction of new tunnels, train links and roads across the country.

""can the writer clearify this statement in his above report.. i think theres already a new airport being constructed at Fateh Jhang...""

Malik Majeed Aug 24, 2013 05:05pm

What a joke - Construction of a new airport at Rawat because new under-construction Airport in Islamabad has design faults.Wallah I am impressed :)

dr vimal raina Aug 24, 2013 06:41pm

Not a bad idea Sir. The message that will go out is that this is where you deal with Pakistan. Have your offices and get into the mainland of Pakistan. It is kind of outpost for foreign company employees.It will be safer.I think you should kind of give specific zones to different countries wherein they can have their own private security while they deal with business. Who goes into Gwadar should be strictly regulated. It will help the economy a lot and bring in confidence.

mohammed saleem awan Aug 24, 2013 06:59pm

Dear Sirs,

The machinary of Government, civil service, politicians of all parties and the general public of Pakistan must support the views and the agenda of the Rt.Hon Prime Minister Mr Nawaz Shariff Esq. You got generate and accelerate strict discipline and code of conduct to achieve prosperity among masses. Waste no time on terrorists- so the called trouble makers. They are after power. And they can't get it unless they prove themselves "good citizens of Pakistan." I wish you best of luck in your most genuine efforts to reshape Pakistan for the good of future generations. God Bless.

raja Aug 25, 2013 12:33am

I think mr nawaz sharif have no sense.why he is gonna build new airport near rawat on the other hand we are hoping new airport near fateh jang complete soon.due to this rubbish decision I feel he will put millions dollars in garbage.

raja Aug 25, 2013 04:49am

@fiaz ahmed: You are saying right .I am hundred percent agree with you. .

Amin Aug 25, 2013 11:10am

It seems that the PM has potential to deliver at least in our age, we had not seen a man thinking about some mega projects, save minor full of corruption projects. The plans that are on the table if materialized, would bring Pakistan along with Asian tigers and definitely would change fate of our potential country which is reeling towards anarchy. Nation to support any positive step regardless of politics to help improve economy, peace and stability in Pakistan. Long live Pakistan, our motherland.

khanm Aug 25, 2013 04:04pm

Why don

Withheld Aug 25, 2013 09:16pm

Come out of illiteracy, learn basic humanity and then dream about Hong Kong.

Akku Aug 26, 2013 03:06am

Where from the resources / funding for such huge projects would come. can some body answer me please

manzar Aug 26, 2013 05:30am

Why not Karachi, if PM can grant HONGKONG status to one part of the country then why not declare Karachi a free port, its already developed, will bring desired results in days not in months, with slip of pen millions of dollars. Go ahead. Many will get benefited and will pray for you.

Zahid Anwer Aug 26, 2013 04:03pm

@manzar: Agreed,,, and what about Bhai log??