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January 30, 2018

Centre ready to help Balochistan govt: PM

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January 30, 2018

GWADAR/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi Monday said the federal government will extend all kind 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 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, increase 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, 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 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, 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 coast line.

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 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 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 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 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 Gwadar Free Zone was the demonstration of the 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 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 increasing Pakistan’s trade volume, foreign direct investment and national economy 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 cabinet.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abbasi visited a stall of 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 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 criticized the PML-N government’s performance. He expressed 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 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 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 PTI opposed it. He said that as the elections were nearing, every party wanted to create a 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.