Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, during his visit to Sukkur, announced a Rs446 billion development package and programme to uplift 14 districts of Sindh, adding that implementation would take place within a month and people would begin to see its effects.
Addressing a cheque distribution ceremony under the Kamyab Jawan Programme, the prime minister said funds for the development package had been accumulated with "great difficulty by taking money from here and there".
"But all preparation for this package has been done, including feasibility, and they are ready. So within a month, this package will start coming onto the ground and you will start seeing its effects."
The premier said he was most happy at the skill trainings which would be provided to the youth under the development programme.
"We have such a great population but we will only be benefited by this population [...] when we can teach them skills and give them skilled education," he said, adding that the population would become an asset instead of a burden in case those skills weren't provided and everything carried on as usual.
"This is a whole effort that we make our youth stand on their feet [and] give them money for businesses."
The prime minister also said that a full effort would be made to provide sports facilities for the youth and cited the great discrepancy between the numbers of sports grounds in New Zealand and Pakistan despite the former having a much lower population than the latter.
"No matter how talented one is, talent needs grounds to play in. If there are no grounds then what is the use of the talent and the population."
Prime Minister Imran Khan said the money for the development package was being provided entirely by the federal government and added that initiatives under the package such as the Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway would be a "big benefit to Sindh's and Pakistan's people".
"The more our logistics [and] connectivity [improves] [and] better roads are built the more ease of business in Pakistan improves. So the whole country will benefit from this but especially your area [of Sindh].
"And the [Naj Gaj] dam, so many acres of land will become cultivable so that will benefit the area," said Prime Minister Imran Khan, referring to the construction of the Nai Gaj dam under the package which will help irrigate 28,800 acres of land.
The prime minister further said cash distribution under the Ehsaas Programme would be extended to 12 million households and that previously, 33 per cent of the total programme fund had been spent on the people of Sindh.
He said he was "proud" that the funds had been distributed on the basis of merit, which he described as not seeing voter or provincial affiliation but determining only on the basis of need and poverty.
The premier said he hadn't ever considered any province or people of Pakistan to not be his own and "all of the country is mine and whichever government is running it, this province [Sindh] is ours too."
"All areas of Pakistan which have been left behind, [we] will fully help them develop," said the premier, citing the development packages announced for south Balochistan and the tribal areas.
"Our emphasis is that all policies we make in Pakistan are to bring our lower segment up [and] I again promise my people of Sindh that [we] will put in full effort to improve your circumstances."
Separately, a statement from his office said the prime minister has announced a "historic" package to end the "decades-long sense of deprivation in Sindh".
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar also spoke and gave more details on the development package and what exactly it would entail.
He earlier praised the prime minister as having proved with every decision that he was the only leader to exhibit "national thinking". "He thinks and makes decisions not for any particular region but for the whole nation."
The federal minister said that Sindh was the "most gas producing province of Pakistan", yet gas was not provided to its villages while cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad were supplied with it. He said that according to the prime minister's vision, the people from the gas producing areas had the first right of use.
He also lamented inadequacies in the system of electricity distribution and shortage of transformers, saying, "we didn't do the development we should have done."
Umar said that gas and electricity projects worth Rs52bn would be initiated by the PTI government in the next two years.
The PMO also said that under the new development package, "supply of gas to the backward districts of Sindh will be started on an emergency basis. Gas supply to 160 villages will be made possible, which will benefit 5,074 households."
It also said that the provision of 30,000 annual electricity connections would be part of the development package.
The federal minister further stated that improvements to railway stations would be made for the "ease of travellers" and provided details about the Naj Gaj dam project. He said it was an old project that the provincial and federal governments were supposed to execute together, but the provincial government had backed out due to the increase in costs.
"So the prime minister decided that the centre would complete that project through its resources and water will be provided for 28,800 acres of land through this new dam," he said, adding that drainage schemes in the area had been included in the project and improvements for the restoration of cultivable land would be initiated as well.
"200,000 acres of land in Sindh will be restored under the auspices of the Sindh development package. As a result, 2,522 jobs will be created while 500 families will be able to earn a living.
"Thus, this package will become the guarantor of economic and social security of the people of Sindh," said a statement from the PMO.
Programmes for youth
Umar said that it was not possible for the youth to go unmentioned in any development package announced by the prime minister and said trainings for digital skills and technology would be provided to more than 100,000 young people in the 14 districts, including Larkana, Khairpur, Shikarpur, Jacobabad, Ghotki, Sukkur and Badin among other.
"We are going to be making sports facilities in these 14 districts. Our idea is that 130,000 young people will be able to use them," said the federal minister, adding that arrangements were specifically being made for 35,000 young girls to use them as well.
Among other developments he announced were the provision of internet, broadband and optic fiber connectivity in the district as well as the upgrade of passport offices and construction of more centres of the National Database and Registration Authority.
Karachi island issue
The prime minister, during his address, lamented the Sindh government's decision to withdraw its No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for the development on one of Karachi's islands and called upon it to review the decision.
"The whole country and Sindh will benefit from this."
"We were going to make a new city on it," said the premier, adding that all they had done all the preparations and investors from abroad were ready as well. "Billions and billions of rupees would've come in Sindh and Sindh's people would've gotten jobs," he said.
He said all the wealth generation, job generation and expenditure on the project would have been in Sindh and the provincial government had even been offered to retain any profit from the project.
"The only benefit, which was supposed to be for all of Pakistan was [...] $40bn would've come from abroad which was supposed to be invested," said Prime Minister Imran Khan, adding that foreign exchange reserves would have increased and thus directly benefited Pakistan.
"I still don't understand that [why] the Sindh government after giving us the NOC, cancelled it."