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KARACHI, May 24: Karachiites and people from elsewhere in Pakistan, as well as those coming from abroad, will soon have a new experience of enjoying eateries of international standard at "Port Grand" , a Rs 1 billion project envisaging the establishment of a most modern "Food Street" at the old abandoned Native Jetty Bridge.

The "Port Grand" is a joint venture of Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Grand Leisure Corporation and has been designed by an American Architect. The ground-breaking ceremony of the project was performed by the federal communications minister Babar Khan Ghouri, at a ceremony held at historic Native Jetty Bridge here on Sunday night.

Speaking on the occasion, Babar Ghouri said that world over ports do undertake development projects aside from port activities and so was the KPT which is undertaking a number of development schemes worth several billion rupees, including the Food Street.

This project, he pointed out, was lying in cold storage and files were shuttling between the KPT and the communication ministry. He said he took over on March 23, 2004, and ordered that all files concerning development projects of the KPT in the city be put up before him.

He said he issued an approval order of Food Street project which was lingering on for a long time just within 48 hours. He informed that first phase of the Food Street project would be completed in six months and second phase in 18 months at a total cost of Rs one billion.

It will be a Food Street of international standard, he said. Babar Ghouri said if interest and will is there, Karachi can be developed for tourists and its name would be taken along with Washington, Los Angeles and other cities of the world.

The minister said that resources of Pakistan were mercilessly plundered in the past. It was only during the three-year government of President Parvez Musharraf that sinking economy was brought back on the rails under President's commitment that Pakistan would be made an economically developed and progressive state.

He criticized the opposition's role and said they were sent to assemblies with a mandate from people, but they spent whole one year in criticism just for the sake of criticism and not criticism for constructive purposes. They were unable to bring even one allegation of corruption against President Parvez Musharraf's three-year government.

He said the present democratic government is pursuing the policies as laid down by President Parvez Musharraf and now each and every project, which will be in the interest of the country and its people, will be implemented without any delay.

The communications minister referred to Pakistan's revival of its membership in the commonwealth and credit for this goes to this government. But, he regretted, a political party wrote letters against Pakistan asking that Pakistan's membership in Commonwealth should not be revived.

He said they should feel ashamed for demonstrating such type of "patriotism". He said in the last elections, they did win some seats but in the future election, they will be totally rejected by the people for their such acts.

The minister said people of Pakistan want such projects to be undertaken in their areas also, but it requires a positive approach. By filling the coffers in Swiss Banks, such projects would not come up.

He said not only the Food Street, KPT was also undertaking Rs 2 billion worth other projects under Taameer-i-Karachi programme. These include a flyover at Hino Chowk, upgradation of M.A. Jinnah Road from Keamari, upgradation of M.T. Khan Road from Tower and extension of Mai Kolachi Bypass up to Submarine Chowk.

Babar Ghouri said these activities should be visible to opponents, but they are bent upon making Karachi a "Tora Bora" and are out to defame Islam and Pakistan. But, he continued, these elements were rejected by the people of Karachi and proved that they are united.

He said the political moulvis want to lead the people towards hatred. Those who won elections by using the card of Afghanistan and Iraq, remained a silent spectator on the completion of one year of Iraq war while other non-Muslim people held forceful demonstrations.

The minister said that their hypocrisy can be judged from the fact that while they banned women from casting vote in the NWFP and Balochistan, they used their votes to win seats in Punjab and Sindh and instead of their workers, they sent their family female members to assemblies.

He said these political moulvis misused madressahs and where once Holy Quran used to be taught, they trained the pupil in use of KK and TTs and instead of making them to acquire knowledge, sent them to Afghanistan for "jehad".

"If we have to compete with the world, the tendencies of terrorism and sectarian hatred will have to be shed", he said. He referred to the bomb blast in Hyderi Masjid and said first the bogey of involvement of a foreign hand was raised, but later it was revealed that the terrorist act was carried by a person from among us who was convinced for "Jehad" by a Pesh Imam.

He said the Sindh government would carry out a legislation whereby political use of mosques will be banned and a case will be registered if a mosque was found being used for political purposes.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, Shahid Firoz, Chairman GLC, pointed out that this beautiful ceremony is being held on the bridge that had been abandoned for so long, declared redundant and ready for demolition. KPT chairman vice-admiral Ahmed Hayat, the sponsors of the project, said the Food Court is yet another project of KPT granted to GCL on BOT basis.

He said the area where this project will come up, was lying vacant and the KPT had two options - either to pull it down or use it for some alternative purpose - and it opted for the second and awarded the project to GLC purely on merit.

On the occasion, US-based Architect Kirwan gave a presentation on various facets of the project through slides. -APP