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Another Islamabad airport

September 21, 2013

FOR the last 66 years we have one airport serving Islamabad, Rawalpindi and the Pakistan Air Force at Chaklala. As a second airport was badly needed, land acquisition, planning and construction of the airport at Fateh Jang was started about five years ago.

Now when almost 70 per cent work is completed, the government comes up with a new plan to build a third airport at Rawat.

The airport at Fateh Jang, if built according to international specifications and allowing for the projected growth in air travel, could serve Islamabad and Rawalpindi comfortably for the next 50 years.

A poor debt-ridden country like Pakistan cannot afford (or needs) three airports for the twin-cities when much bigger cities such as Karachi and Lahore have only one airport each.

The problem with Pakistan is that each successive government has its own set of priority projects. There is no continuity of policy. As soon as a new government occupies the seat of power, it scraps all projects started by the previous government and starts off with its own list.

The fate of the Diamer-Bhasha dam for which funding has already been approved by the World Bank is another case in point.

Such mega projects require billions of dollars and at least a decade to build, spanning two or three governments.

The Planning Commission is the only competent organisation that should be entrusted with projects of this nature. Politicians, presidents, prime ministers and chief ministers and others should not be allowed to interfere in them or alter the plans.

ASIF JAH Karachi