PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addresses during the inauguration ceremony of the first phase of Gwadar Port’s Free Zone on Monday.—INP
PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addresses during the inauguration ceremony of the first phase of Gwadar Port’s Free Zone on Monday.—INP

GWADAR: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has asked the Balochistan government to develop plans for development of coastal areas and held out the assurance that the federal government would extend all cooperation in this regard.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of Gwadar Expo on Monday, he said no port could be functional without establishing a free zone.

The two-day expo has been jointly organised by the Gwadar Development Authority and China Overseas Ports Holding Company that would provide a platform for interaction between local and foreign private sectors and government officials for investment opportunities.

Mr Abbasi said that ‘Free Zone’ was an integral part of Gwadar port and the project would pave the way for speedy development of Balochistan and would provide ample job opportunities in the province.

The prime minister said the future of Balochistan was in the hands of political leadership and it was the duty of the Balochistan government to find out the solution of people’s problems and meet the challenges itself.

He announced ‘Equalisation Package’ for Balochistan, under which the federal government would share half the development cost in every district of the province, including establishment of hospitals, education and other facilities.

“The Equalisation Package will ensure the provision of equal facilities in all districts of the province to achieve the target of sustainable development goals,” Mr Abbasi said.

He said this was perhaps the most important initiative of our generation and the most visible part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Mr Abbasi said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would prove to be a game-changer not only for Pakistan but also the entire region and it would bring prosperity.

He said the future of Balochistan was in the hands of its elected leaders.

“Political leaders of the province have to resolve their issues themselves, otherwise they will never be solved,” the premier implored.

Mr Abbasi said the motorways and highways were linking Gwadar to Khunjerab which linked Peshawar to Karachi.

He said modernisation of the railway system, establishment of power projects…and special economic zones would generate employment.

He said the CPEC was a project of common development and prosperity.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing reaffirmed to support progress and prosperity in Pakistan. He said the Chinese businessmen would continue to invest in developmental projects of Gwadar.

He said the CPEC was a proof of everlasting friendship between China and Pakistan and it “is the most important initiative of our generation”.

Chairman of the China Overseas Ports Holding Company Mr Zhang said development of Gwadar would help improve the overall economic conditions in Pakistanis and also of local people.

He said for the construction of Gwadar Free Zone, China had employed around 2,000 local people keeping in view their involvement in the mega project.

Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo in his speech stressed the need for giving more importance to the well-being and welfare of people and said that any plan or development project with little participation of area people could not be fruitful.

He expressed the hope that CPEC and other development projects would bring about prosperity to the province.

The chief minister said that the provincial government was trying its best to ensure a congenial and investment-friendly atmosphere in the province.

He sought the help of the federal government, policy makers and potential investors in establishing more schools with top quality education, hospitals with modern facilities in the province and a water scheme ensuring clean-drinking water for the people of Gwadar.

The chief minister welcomed the CPEC project and termed it a gift of China for the people of the province.

Referring to different problems the province was facing, Mr Bizenjo said that the provincial government alone could not resolve them because of its limited resources. The problems, he said, included water shortage and economic backwardness, and sought financial and technical help of the federal government for the purpose.

He also demanded of the federal government to link Gwadar with the national grid for uninterrupted supply of electricity to the area and urged it to help the provincial government in laying of a water pipeline from Shadi Kaur Dam to Gwadar to ensure continuous drinking water supply to the people of Gwadar.

The chief minister expressed the hope that Gwadar Expo would bring about significant investment in the province.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2018