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QUETTA, Sept 3: President Gen Pervez Musharraf has urged the people of Balochistan to resist militants who were opposing development in the province and hindering the country’s progress.

Addressing a public meeting on Monday after inaugurating the Sabakzai Dam, completed at a cost of Rs1.58 billion in Zhob, he said that Balochistan’s development was interlinked with national progress.

Urging people to help maintain the law and order situation, he said: “People who are trying to impede the province’s development are not well wishers of Pakistan.”

President Musharraf said Pakistan was immune to sabotaging power plants and blowing up of bridges and other infrastructure but the attacks harmed interests of the people of Balochistan and it also increased their difficulties. “People of Balochistan should confront those who want to see them permanently poor and dependent,” he said.

He said that the dam had been constructed under Vision 2030 with a capacity to store 32,700 acre-feet of water, adding that it would help irrigate 10,000 acres of land. He said that the dam would also help create more jobs.

Advising land owners to grow crops like olives, grapes and vegetables along with wheat, he said: “Increase in olive production will help increase Pakistan’s exports.”

President Musharraf said that the government had launched development projects aimed to reducing poverty and creating jobs for people of Balochistan.

He said that government was planning to lay a broad-gauge rail track, linking Zhob with Quetta, adding that work on the project had already begun. He said that Rs100 million had been released for the project.

The president said that electricity had been provided to 29 villages in Zhob district and the number would soon increase to 50. He said that a 1,000-line local loop wireless phone service would be initiated soon.

Disapproving the delay in provision of gas to Zhob city, the president said that he would take up the issue with the authorities concerned and the project would be expedited. Criticising past governments and highlighting the present government’s performance, he said several major projects worth Rs150 billion had been launched in Balochistan to remove people’s sense of deprivation.

He said that the government was focusing on developing road network in the province and the Quetta-Zhob-Dera Ghazi Khan road was under construction.

President Musharraf said that the government had ensured the induction of more than 18,000 Baloch youths in the Army. He said that 5,300 more had been inducted in the Frontier Corps while thousands of them were being recruited in police.

“I have ordered all defence institutions to adjust maximum number of people to be trained in various fields to increase their standard of life,” he said.

Highlighting the government’s development efforts in the province, the president said that the government was setting up nine cadet colleges in Balochistan.

Balochistan Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani, Chief Minister, Jam Mir Mohammad Yousuf, Deputy Chairman Senate Mir Jan Mohammad Khan Jamali, Federal Minister for Water and Power Liaquat Ali Jatoi and Speaker of the Balochistan Assembly Jam Shah Kakar attended the public meeting.