GWADAR - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Thursday inaugurated a string of development projects for Balochistan including a dam, Gwadar Free Zone, business complex and a university, all aimed at mainstreaming the country's remotest areas.
The prime minister was accompanied by Governor Balochistan Mohammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Gen (r) Qadir Baloch, Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Bizenjo, National Security Adviser Gen (r) Nasir Janjua and China's ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong.
The premier was briefed about various projects. He unveiled plaques of projects that included Gwadar Free Zone that would be exempt from taxes for 23 years and covers an area of 2300 acres. The infrastructure would be completed in a year's time and was being constructed by China's Overseas Port Holding Company.
He also unveiled plaque for a business service complex that would house offices of companies involved in export, import and trade. The building would later house a container terminal also.
The other projects included inauguration of a school at Gwadar that has been gifted by the Communist Party of China. It has been constructed at a cost of US400,000 dollars in a low-income area in six months period.
He also inaugurated the Shadikaur Dam, 130 kilometre from Pasni and 70 kms from Gwadar with a storage capacity of 45,000 acre feet. Work on the project began in June 2011 and the lake covers an area of 1813 sq km that would meet the irrigation and drinking water needs of the people of the area.
The prime minister also unveiled a plaque for the University of Gwadar that would provide quality higher education to the people of the remotest areas of the country and help them play their part in national development.
Addressing a gathering after inaugurating development projects, the prime minster said with the continued pace of development, pursued by his government, Gwadar would soon emerge as the most prosperous city in the country. He was very pleased to witness Gwadar develop as an international city as his dream of 1991 was eventually coming true.
He regretted that the pace of development initiated by him in 1991 was disrupted and said had there been continuity in his tenure Gwadar Port city would have been developed long time back and contributed to national development.
Sharif said the several multi-billion dollar projects in Gwadar were a proof that investors have confidence in the security and law and order situation in the area. He mentioned the significance of the project for the country by describing Gwadar as Pakistan and Pakistan as Gwadar.
The prime minister said all the projects once completed in next few years would bring in a world class sea port to the region.
He said Gwadar was the central point of focus in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. He said it would not only have a positive impact on the province, but also the entire country.
Sharif said 300MW coal-fired power plant would help energise the various projects, a de-salination plant, an international airport and an efficient train service. He said Gwadar would be connected to Motorway and road network through various US 100 billion projects besides it would also have a vocational training centre and Rs four billion university.
Prime Minister Sharif appreciated the role of armed services of the country, law enforcement agencies, police and all others who through their sacrifices and hard work brought in peace and stability to the province.
He said terrorists were on the run and were making last ditch efforts by striking soft targets, however he was optimist that they would fail miserably in their nefarious designs.
He said the newly-inaugurated projects worth Rs 50 billion would help create 50,000 jobs and directed that the people of Gwadar and adjoining areas be given preference as it was their due right. He said the people of entire province would benefit from creation of new jobs.
Sharif was especially grateful to the Chinese government for its support and making development in the port city a success. He was also appreciative of Chinese role in helping Pakistan on the economic front and undertaking a string of infrastructure, energy and development projects. He also lauded China's role as a "true friend" and thanked the Chinese ambassador for announcing more funding for various projects in the city.
Sharif said several coal-fired projects in other parts of the country would help enhance efficiency of the industries and through its solar, wind and hydel projects the country would soon get rid of loadshedding by generating 10,000MW by 2018.
Chief Minister Balochistan Sanaullah Zehri lauded the personal efforts of Prime Minister Sharif in the development of the most remotest area of the country and pointed out a number of challenges that the federal government overcame to make the dream a success.
He said declaring Gwadar a Tax Free Zone has helped attract investment in the area and hoped the pace of development would go up. He also mentioned the setting up of a Security Division for the safety and protection of foreign investors in the area.
He said the Real Estate business in area that had plunged in the past was now escalating at a rapid rate. He mentioned a number of projects that were in different phases of completion. These include road, hospital and vocational training institutions. He said the first phase of Gwadar Free Port would complete in 2017.
He hoped that the entire Gwadar Port project upon completion would help create 50,000 jobs.
Minister for Ports and Shipping Hasil Bazinjo said development of Gwadar Port reflected vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He described Gwadar as Balochistan and Balochistan as Gwadar.
Ambassador of China to Pakistan Sun Weidong said he was pleased to join as partners in development of Gwadar and mentioned his country's support for construction of Gwadar Free Zone and handing over a school for the local people.
He expressed hope that the new projects would help create more employment opportunities and usher in an era of prosperity for the development of the area.
He said more upcoming projects like the Gwadar airport would be completed by ensuring highest quality and was aimed at making the port efficient and of international quality to ensure regional connectivity. He said the area has a bright future.
He also announced US six million dollars for uplifting of local schools in Gwadar, five government scholarships for students of Gwadar, besides a one million scholarship.
The Chinese ambassador said the local people of Gwadar and those along the path of China Pakistan Economic Corridor would benefit the most and lead to economic development of Pakistan and the entire region.