KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that Pakistan had the potential to become a centre of tourism, especially for the Muslim world, by exploiting the growing “Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments” in the West as Muslim tourists no longer feel safe to visit those places with their families and Pakistan, with its scenic beaches, could become the best alternative for millions of visitors every year.
Saying he was pleasantly surprised over the stunning beauty of Balochistan’s beaches, Mr Khan described as a blessing in disguise the anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobia in the West since Pakistan could now lure tourists from the Muslim world.
Addressing provincial officials, volunteers and local residents after inaugurating the government campaign for tree plantation at Sonmiani beach in Lasbela district, the prime minister referred to the rapidly shrinking number of Muslim tourists to European countries and suggested that Pakistan fill the space and capitalise on the opportunity.
“Every area has its own significance. If you want this area to become an industrial estate, it’s not possible. But here we can develop tourism and make it a centre of tourism in keeping with our cultural, moral and Islamic values. If we succeed in doing so, a large number of people from the Islamic world will start coming here.
Inaugurates plantation drive at Sonmiani beach; meets PTI leaders and chairs meetings on Centre-funded projects in Karachi; Sindh CM not invited to any of the sittings
“Due to Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments, there are several places in Europe and other parts of the world where our people and other Muslims do want to visit anymore. They used to visit those places frequently but they don’t want to visit them now with their families. This has created a huge potential for Pakistan,” he said.
The prime minister assured the Balochistan chief minister of the federal government’s support in developing a tourism block from Sonmiani beach to the coastline of Gwadar that would ultimately energise the country’s economy and create huge opportunities for the local people.
“Jam Sahib [Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani] we would plan together and think about it how we can utilise and build this a best resource,” said PM Imran. “We would bring the best consultants who would advise us for best utilisation of our resources because we can’t do this without experts’ advice. This tourism has become a science. If we don’t do it scientifically, it can be misused. We need to develop it. Jam Sahib, from here to Gwadar we would develop tourism pockets and areas utilising diversified beauty of this area.”
Earlier, the prime minister spent a busy few hours in Karachi meeting leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, visiting the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and chairing back-to-back meetings mainly focusing on federal government-funded projects in the city.
The PPP-led Sindh government again complained that Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah was unaware of the visit as he was not invited to any of the meetings chaired by the prime minister.
Sindh government spokesman and recently appointed Karachi administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab was unsure whether the prime minister was chairing any meeting on Karachi projects. “I don’t know if there’s any meeting on Karachi projects scheduled during his visit. As far as I know he actually is coming to visit Karachi Port and then to Balochistan. That’s the reason, I think, that the chief minister [Sindh] and administrator [Karachi] were neither invited nor informed about his engagements,” he said.
However, a statement issued by his office after PM Khan’s Karachi visit shared a different story and carried lengthy details of his engagements mainly related to briefing and meetings on Karachi projects being funded by the federal government.
“The early completion of federal government projects in Karachi and the early launch of newly announced works are among government’s key priorities,” the statement quoted the prime minister as saying while chairing a meeting held to review the progress of ongoing development projects under the Karachi Transformation Plan (KTP).
PM Khan also directed the officials concerned to ensure completion of all projects within the timelines committed by them as he was keen to inaugurate them as soon as possible for the welfare and benefit of the people of Karachi.
Governor Sindh Imran Ismail, federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Minister for Railways Azam Swati, Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Zaidi, Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal and senior government officials attended the meeting.
The prime minister was briefed on restoration of three major nullahs of Karachi, including Mehmoodabad, Gujar and Orangi, two rivers in Malir and Liyari, construction of roads astride nullahs, laying of sewerage system and relocation of utilities, a press release issued by the PM Media Office said.
The National Disaster Management Authority chairman said a survey of all the nullahs had been completed and anti-encroachment drive was in full swing.
The prime minister was informed that the remaining civil works would be completed by June 2022. He was also informed that the Green Line bus project would be operational by October this year as 80 buses would be arriving at Karachi Port from China by the middle of September.
“Similarly, at the request of the Sindh government, SIDCL (Sindh Infrastructure Development Company Ltd) is also procuring 20 buses for Orange Line which are expected to reach Karachi by December 2021,” said the statement.
The prime minister was also briefed on the K-IV project for supply of water to Karachi and on railway projects, including the Freight Corridor from Keamari to Pipri Marshalling Yard and Karachi Circular Railway.
Ship lift, transfer system A 7,300-tonne capacity ship lift and transfer system (SLTS) was inaugurated at the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KS&EW) on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Imran Khan graced the occasion as the chief guest. Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Mohammed Amjad Khan Niazi was also present on the occasion.
SLTS will provide docking and repair facilities to marine vessels of up to 7,300 tonnes. It can accommodate 12 ships at one time. The facility will contribute to productivity of the KS&EW and fulfil the ever-increasing demands of the shipping industry in the country.
PM Khan emphasised that the government is committed to supporting the local industry and is working on friendly policies to enhance shipping and fishing in Pakistan waters and enhancing business for Karachi shipyard. He said the facility is a true testament of the government’s efforts towards industrialisation, capacity building and self-reliance. He expressed the hope that the drive towards higher grounds will continue in future and the facility will be used to its fullest in the role envisaged by the planners and maximum benefits will be accrued from the investment for poverty alleviation.
Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2021