President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani chair a high level meeting on “Law and Order Situation in Balochistan” held at the Presidency in Islamabad on Tuesday. – Photo by PPI

ISLAMABAD: The PPP-led coalition government has asked the party’s Balochistan chapter to hold talks with all political groups and decided to strengthen paramilitary forces for the fight against insurgents.

President Asif Ali Zardari conveyed the government’s decision to the Balochistan government at a high-level meeting at the Presidency on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General and Intelligence Bureau (IB) Director General also attended the meeting.“President Zardari took a serious note of increasing incidents of killings and arson attacks in Balochistan and directed the provincial government and security forces to make parallel efforts to restore peace in Balochistan,” his spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

“The provincial government will hold talks with all political parties and other stakeholders while the federal government will strengthen FC and Levies to maintain law and order,” the spokesman said.

It has been learnt that paramilitary forces will be equipped with more weapons and vehicles in Balochistan and fresh recruitments will be made.

The meeting reviewed development projects in Balochistan and called for expediting early completion of mega developmental projects in Balochistan to provide jobs and opportunities to people and to bring the province on a par with the rest of the country by addressing the sense of deprivation among its people.

Mr Babar said four separate presentations each were given by Dr Nadeemul Haq, the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission; Mir Ahmad Baksh Lehri, Chief Secretary of Balochistan; Mr Muhammad Ali Gardezi, Chairman of NHA; and Mr Shakil Durani, Chairman of Wapda, on development projects in infrastructure, transport & communication system, water sector projects, including small and medium dams, and other projects under construction under the Aghaz Huqooq-i-Balochistan.

The meeting was informed that out of 1,180 ongoing projects being executed through the PSDP for current year (2011-12) in the country, 133 projects with an outlay of Rs305 billion were being executed in Balochistan alone.

A sum of Rs126 billion has already been spent on these projects up to June, 2011, and an additional allocation of Rs28 billion has been made during the current year for federal projects in Balochistan out of the PSDP.The meeting was also informed about various schemes and projects being implemented in Balochistan as part of the Aghaz Huqooq-i-Balochistan, including Dera Bugti development package, Quetta development package, Kohlu development package, Sui development package and other development schemes.

Imtiaz Kazi, the Secretary of Water & Power and Mr Shakil Durrani, Chairman of Wapda, gave a presentation on water sector projects, informing the meeting that 23 water sector projects were being financed, including small dams costing over Rs111 billion. Over Rs10 billion has been allocated during the current financial year for the projects.

The Wapda chairman said that two projects -- Mirani Dam and Sabakzai Dam – had already been completed at a total cost of nearly eight billion rupees. The Mirani dam has a storage capacity of 0.152 MAF with irrigated area of 33,200 acres while Sabakzai Dam has a capacity to store 0.015 MAF and irrigated area of 6,875 acres.

Mr Durrani informed the meeting that almost 60 per cent of work had been completed on Kachhi Canal water project, which would irrigate about 102,000 acres in the first phase and over 700,000 acres in the second phase.

The president ordered that the Kachhi project be completed on priority basis.

The meeting was informed that RBOD–III, a drainage project, would be completed by June next year at an estimated cost of nearly Rs4.5 billion and the project would benefit an area of over 287,000 acres.

The Wapda chairman briefed the meeting on small and medium dams projects in Balochistan. The dams include Naulong Dam, Winder Dam, Hingol Dam, Pelar Dam, Garuk Dam and Hub Dam.

The NHA chairman briefed the meeting about highways, airports and infrastructure development projects, saying that Rs8.5 billion had been allocated for 17 road projects in the province.

He said the airport in Gwadar was financed as a special case by the federal government through the PSDP, adding that Rs1.5 billion had been paid for land acquisition and during the current financial, Rs1.1 billion had been allocated for the port. The President said that future of the country was dependent on the Gawadar Port and called for its early completion. Mr Zardari called for establishment of colleges in Khuzdar and Loralai besides providing funding for Turbat and Loralai universities.

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