ISLAMABAD, Oct 22: President Asif Ali Zardari said on Wednesday that the government would restore peace in Balochistan and make it safe for oil and gas exploration after holding dialogue with stakeholders.

At a briefing on energy crisis and the pace of oil and gas exploration in the province by officials of the ministry of petroleum and natural resources at the presidency, he said energy security was as much vital for the nation as food security.

Sources in the petroleum ministry told Dawn that the president agreed with views being held by most of exploration companies and officials of the ministry that without bringing lasting peace to Balochistan, no major increase could be witnessed in exploration and production of oil and gas in the province.

Mr Zardari, they added, was informed that the confidence of investors interested in gas and oil fields in Balochistan could only be restored through peace and peace was not possible until tribes were taken into confidence.

An official announcement said the president stressed the need for innovative and out-of-the-box solutions to increase oil and gas production. He called for stepping up oil and gas exploration.

He said that the economy could not be sustained without energy. “There is a pressing need for multiplying domestic energy production.”

Mr Zardari said energy security, like food security, was critical in the modern world. He called for devising a comprehensive energy security plan. An effective energy security plan also involved dialogue at the regional level for cooperation in the filed of energy, he said.

He stressed the need for carrying out aerial surveys for exploration of oil and gas.

The president said that during his visit to Beijing, he found the Chinese political leadership keen to assist Pakistan in all development activities.

Mr Zardari called upon relevant officials to develop new models of private-public partnership in the oil and gas sector with Chinese entrepreneurs.

The sources said that the president was also briefed on the issues which could arise from the privatisation of the Qadirpur gas-field and the ongoing maintenance of the same gas field and its impact on energy situation.

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