QUETTA: Pakistan and Iran have decided to lay railway track to connect Gwadar with the Iranian port city of Chabahar.

The decision was taken at a meeting between Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and a 22-member Iranian delegation led by the governor of the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan, Aaqa Ali Hosth Hashmi, in Gwadar on Sunday.

Balochistan Chief Secretary Saifullah Chattha, representatives of the Gwadar Port Authority and other officials concerned attended the meeting which discussed border security, drug trafficking, illegal crossing of border and other issues.

According to official sources, the Balochistan government delegation raised the issue of border violations by Iranian security forces.

The meeting decided to take up plans for border trade, new shipping service and flights from Gwadar to Iranian cities and towns.

A committee has been set up to monitor border security and related issues.

The meeting was informed that a border commission had already been formed that would look into border-related issues between the two countries.

Under another decision, Iran which is supplying 70 megawatts of electricity to Makran division will increase it by 30MW, besides providing 1,000MW to Pakistan’s national grid.

Mr Zehri said at the meeting that Pakistan and Iran enjoyed strong brotherly relations and shared the affinities of culture, faith and customs. Balochs living on both sides of the border spoke the same language.

He expressed the hope that the governor of Sistan-Baluchestan would play an active role in speedy implementation of various projects.

Mr Zehri said Pakistan was against terrorism and condemned wherever it took place. The border commission, he hoped, would resolve security issues.

He said he would visit Sistan-Baluchistan.

Aaqa Hashmi said the main purpose of his visit was to strengthen ties between the two neighbouring countries which shared traditional values. He said he hoped that border security issues would be resolved.

Meanwhile, a number of delegations of representatives of different local sectors called on Mr Zehri and apprised him of problems faced by them. The chief minister assured them that his government would take all possible steps to solve their problems.

He said work on the Sodh and Shadi Kour dams was under way and would soon be completed. The government was working to solve the problem of shortage of drinking water in Gwadar and address other issues.

The chief minister said a fully operational Gwadar Port and completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would usher in an era of development and prosperity in the region and local people would be its main beneficiaries. He also said that local people would be given preference in development projects in Gwadar.

Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2016