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January 30, 2018

Centre to extend help to Balochistan govt: PM

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January 30, 2018

GWADAR/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday said the federal government will extend all kinds of help to the Balochistan government and it is up to the provincial government to find solution to problems.The prime minister said this after inaugurating the Gwadar Free Trade Zone and the Expo 2018.

The premier reiterated that the ongoing policies of economic development would continue, no matter which party forms the next government as these were aimed at development and prosperity and building the nation.

He reiterated that the country would hold its next general elections in July this year after the completion of the five-year term of the PML-N government.

The prime minister termed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a game changer and said the potential of Gwadar has been fully realised owing to the vision of President Xi Jinping and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. He said that due to the dedication and hard work of Pakistani and Chinese teams, both the CPEC and Gwadar were heading towards a bright future.

Prime Minister Abbasi mentioned the ongoing modernisation of the railway system from Karachi to Peshawar, Khunjerab to Gwadar, upgrading of road network, building of necessary infrastructure, building of power projects and setting up of special economic zones to bring prosperity to the people of Pakistan through generation of economic activity, increasing exports and creation of jobs. He said connectivity through Gwadar, the new motorway networks would bring prosperity not only to Central Asian States, western China and Afghanistan but also Pakistan and strengthen President Xi’s vision of Belt and Road Initiative. He said Gwadar was the most visible section of this vision and termed it the most important contribution of the Chinese president for the future generations.

The prime minister recalled his recent visit to Davos where at one of the forum on “Shared future in a fractured world” he recalled pointing out that President Xi Jinping was building on linkages of the past for a future of tomorrow. He appreciated the Gwadar Port Authority, Gwadar Development Authority and the Chinese partners working on the project and said it would bring prosperity to Balochistan and Pakistan on the whole and the region as well.

Addressing the challenges of Balochistan, the prime minister said the future of the province was in the hands of its political leadership. He said the provincial government needs to develop the entire coastline.

The premier said there was an urgent need to transform Gwadar into an international city, which was fully functional and can serve the future demands of its people. He said the provincial government has to confront the challenges ahead. He said the federal government would equally share in the equalisation package for Gwadar so as to provide quality services in health, education and other social sectors for the people of Balochistan.

In this regard, he said, funding for each district of Balochistan would start this year. The prime minister later formally inaugurated the export free zone. Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo said the Gwadar Expo was a significant step towards the economic development of the port city and of Balochistan. He emphasized that local people must not be left out in the fast-paced journey of development.

Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said completion of the first phase of Gwadar Free Zone was a major milestone towards achieving inclusive and sustainable development in Balochistan in line with Pakistan Vision 2025. He said the Gwadar Port and the free zone projects were demonstration of the time-tested friendship between Pakistan and China.

Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Hasil Khan Bizenjo said the main objective of holding the Gwadar Expo 2018 was to highlight the significance of Gwadar, to promote its port and free zone as emerging business hub and to provide a platform of interaction between local, regional and international business entrepreneurs.

Chairman China Overseas Port Holding Company Zhang Baozhong said the Gwadar Free Zone was the demonstration of hard work of the governments of Pakistan and China, which was a project of prosperity for the two nations. He said his company was overwhelmed by the support of Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments, Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy and the local people.

He said the Gwadar Free Zone during initial construction and production phase (year 2018-23) would provide job opportunities for more than 38,000 people and would help increase Pakistan’s trade volume, foreign direct investment and national economy's size.

The event was attended by President AJK Masood Khan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing and members of federal and provincial cabinets.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abbasi visited a stall of the Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) at Gwadar Expo-2018. Project Officer Pakistan Navy Fleet Tanker Commodore Salman Ilyas informed the prime minister about the progress of the ongoing shipbuilding projects at KSEW.

Meanwhile, in an interview with a private news channel, Prime Minister Abbasi ruled out the prospects of holding early elections in the country, advising his political adversaries to wait for the upcoming polls.

The premier said holding of early elections was not possible. He said people had voted for the PML-N and it had delivered in the last four and a half years. He said the opposition had never criticised the PML-N government’s performance. He expressed the hope that people would vote for his party in the next general elections on the basis of its performance.

About probable candidates in the PML-N for the prime minister's office after the next general elections, he said the decision in this regard would be taken by the parliamentary committee to be formed after getting majority in the elections. He said it would be premature to suggest any name. He said being a senior leader of the PML-N, Shahbaz Sharif had delivered in the province, so his name could be included along with others in the list for the next prime minister.

To a question, the prime minister said the PML-N had always worked with other parties for the sake of democracy. He said some parties supported the PML-N while others like the PTI opposed it. He said that as the elections were nearing, every party wanted to create space for itself.

The prime minister also supported the move to enfranchise expatriates as they were also Pakistanis with sophisticated exposure in foreign countries and expressed optimism that they would definitely vote for the PML-N on the basis of its performance. He also declared that PML-N would get public support in Sindh, arguing that various uplift projects worth billions of rupees were being completed in Karachi and Hyderabad.

To another question, the prime minister said the tax amnesty scheme could be launched within the next two weeks. Terming the current system unfair, the prime minister observed that those people who had paid taxes were overburdened whereas others who shied away from paying the same were exempted. To fill the gap, he said, the government had to go for indirect taxation. He said the decision about eligibility of Nawaz Sharif would be made by public and not by the accountability court as the people did not endorse such decisions.

He said cases against Co-chairman PPP Asif Ali Zardari were framed during late Leghari’s tenure and not by the PML-N government. He said parliamentary oversight was required over nomination of judges of the superior judiciary as it was a worldwide practice. About the import of LNG from Qatar, he said all the relevant documents were available on Pepra and PCO websites.

The prime minister to a question about the US-Pak ties said there was no reality in the tweets. He regretted that Pakistan was blamed for every issue in Afghanistan. He said the fact was that terrorists from the Afghan soil attacked Pakistan.