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GWADAR / QUETTA: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed displeasure over the slow pace of work on development projects in Gwadar and said the previous government did not pay any attention to the completion of the international airport in the city among other projects.

He said big cargo ships could not anchor at the deep-sea port here due to a reduction in its depth and the previous government did not conduct dredging at the port, which had now silted up and was not able to receive big ships.

The PM made these remarks at the inauguration of Eastbay Expressway and groundbreaking of seven development projects for Gwadar during his daylong visit to the port city on Friday. He expressed dissatisfaction over the pace of work on ongoing development projects in Gwadar and said the foundation of the airport had been laid in 2017, but it remained incomplete despite the passage of five years. He directed the planning and development minister to take all possible measures for the completion of the projects in time.

Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, federal ministers Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal, MNA Aslam Bhootani, MPA Hammal Kalmati, provincial minister Lala Rasheed, Akbar Askani and senior officials received the prime minister at Gwadar airport. Chinese Charge d’affaires Pang Chunxue, Defence Attaché Yang and other Chinese officials were also present on the occasion.

Launches work on seven more projects for coastal district; says target for $5bn trade over three years agreed with Erdogan

Prime Minister Sharif, while referring to the problems of local fishermen, announced provision of 2,000 free marine engines to them, and said a solar power project would also be launched for which China would provide 3,200 solar panels to the locals. “We plan to construct a solar park in Gwadar,” he stated, adding that all possible efforts would be made to resolve the issue of water shortage in the coastal district.

A component of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the six-lane Eastbay Expressway would connect the Gwadar port with the Makran Coastal Highway, also providing a link to Karachi to ease the transportation of goods.

Sharif said the government had announced a relief package for the poorest families under which each family would be handed out Rs2,000 under the Benazir Income Support Programme to mitigate the impact of the oil price hike.

Unveiling the plaques of new projects earlier, the PM broke the ground for a seawater desalination plant being built with the help of China Aid, Jingtal Gwadar Private Limited, Hangmei Lubricant Plant, Hangeng Agricultural Industrial Park, an expo centre and a fertiliser plant, besides distributing 3,000 solar panels. He also received briefing on the ongoing development projects, including the Gwadar airport, which was being built under a Chinese grant and facing a delay in completion.

He said a hospital had also been built for the people of Gwadar. “Work on desalination plants would begin without delay as it is the dire need of the local people who are facing shortage of drinking water.” He added these plants should have been constructed earlier but the previous government did not pay attention to this important issue.

Country’s defence

Earlier, while addressing officers during his visit to the Command and Staff College in Quetta, the premier emphasised that the country’s defence was sacred, and Pakistan’s security, sovereignty and integrity would be ensured at all costs.

“The nation owes its freedom to the monumental sacrifices of its heroes and martyrs,” he said.

Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistan’s armed forces were the guarantors of peace, internal and external security, regional stability and were also contributing to global peace efforts. Paying tribute to the achievements and sacrifices of the forces, he said, “Our successes in the wars against terrorism are unparalleled, duly acknowledged by the world.”

“The armed forces have always done a commendable job in the service of the nation during natural calamities,” he remarked.

Later, the PM laid a floral wreath at a martyrs’ monument.

Trade with Turkey

Meanwhile, PM Sharif said his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan paved the way for setting a target of achieving bilateral trade volume of $5 billion in the next three years.

In an exclusive interview with TRT’s head of Urdu service, Dr Furqan Hameed, during his recent visit to Ankara, the PM regretted that the centuries-old relationship between Pakistan and Turkey did not reflect in trade. He pointed out that currently, the trade volume between the two countries only touched $1.1bn over the last 75 years, as reported by APP.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2022

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