QUETTA: Addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of three mega projects in Balochistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday said he was not visiting the province to win elections but to develop it, bringing it at par with the other provinces.
A number of federal and provincial ministers, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, high-ranking military and civilian officials and representatives from various departments were in attendance.
The prime minister inaugurated the Quetta-Zhob Double carriageway, Balochistan Health Complex and New Gwadar International Airport. He said the 305-km carriageway would become a real gamechanger, as it would give the province a basis for development by linking it with other areas. He said the Quetta-Zhob (N-50 Motorway) will link Quetta with Zhob, passing through Kuchlak, Muslim Bagh and Qilla Saifullah, reducing the travelling time between Quetta and Dera Ismail Khan from 12 hours to four hours and increasing socio-economic activity for local population, particularly local businesses by providing access to minerals and mines and direct access to main markets. The road will also facilitate speedy transportation of goods from the KP to sea port of Karachi.
The N-50, being primary sub regional corridor, runs parallel to the western border connecting Afghanistan and Iran with Pakistan and id of vital connectivity of CPEC western alignment leading to the Gwadar Port. He said the western route of China Pakistan Economic Corridor should have been given priority by the previous regimes.
“In the past, politics was done in Balochistan only to win elections. The previous PM visited foreign countries five times more than he visited Balochistan. In the NFC Award, money was increased for Balochistan but it did not reach people. There is no cardiac institute in the province. We will pull Pakistan out of these flawed systems and bring a change."
Imran thanked Gen Bajwa for his all-out support in establishing the Balochistan Health Complex in collaboration with the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “You arranged the funding for this from the United Arab Emirates through your connections, and the army laid the infrastructure," he said.
He said the project would address the public health issues, particularly the cardiac diseases. The cardiac hospital will house the latest medical facilities, including state of the art operation theatres, echo and nuclear cardio facilities. To make the facility environment-friendly Bio Medical Workshop and waste management plant will also be constructed.
The prime minister said the federal government was serious about providing the basic necessities to the Baloch people and hinted that a cancer hospital would also be established in Quetta in collaboration with the provincial government and the armed forces.
The prime minister said in the past, it was difficult to import quality medical equipment and standardised medical practitioners in Balochistan, but ‘we will Insha’Allah establish a modern cancer hospital here, equipped with the latest technology, as people face problems in taking their cancer patients to Lahore for treatment’.
He also announced that railway connectivity would be established between Quetta and Taftan and said federal minister for railways was already working on this front.
He also underlined the importance of tree plantation and water conservation system to meet the forthcoming challenges and advised the provincial government to take some initiatives at the local level in these areas.
Imran said scarcity of local skilled people could be addressed through skilled development centers.
“By doing so, they will have job and business opportunities in the future,” he added. Lauding the Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal’s dedication to the progress and prosperity of the province, the prime minister urged the provincial government to make a master plan for Quetta.
He said population and cities expansion was interlinked and they needed to be administered through master plans. He said master plans were also being made for Islamabad and Peshawar by the departments concerned.
The prime minister said good governance was the only way to serve the people. Highlighting the salient features of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa local government system, he urged the Balochistan government to also adopt it.
“We can develop Balochistan by adopting a local government system like in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to streamline the distribution of funds at the grass roots level,” he said. He noted that under the local govt system Village Councils had brought a significant change in funds allocation mechanism at the lower level.
Reiterating his government’s resolve of a New Pakistan, the prime minister said the government wanted real development in Balochistan. Criticising the previous governments, he said they did nothing for the development of the country, as poor governance had resulted in financial deficit.
“Rs6 billion is being paid per day in lieu of loans which were borrowed by the previous governments. We have to provide education, health and security to our people. We have come here not to win elections like the previous practice, but to develop Balochistan along with Pakistan in a real sense. Such mega projects will bring ultimate prosperity in the country. We will bring a real change through revolutionary reforms in the society,” he added.
The prime minister also launched work on New Gwadar International Airport and announced various other development schemes for the city, what he believed would become an engine of growth for Pakistan.
“What a pleasure it is to be in Gwadar. Insha’Allah, in coming months, years, Gwadar would be, I see, as engine of growth for Pakistan,” he said addressing the ground-breaking ceremony of the airport.
The event was attended by federal ministers, Balochistan chief minister, parliamentarians, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, besides huge number of Chinese workers and government officials.
The airport was included among Early Harvest High Priority Project of the CPEC in January 2014. The Chinese government would assist Pakistan in construction of the airport under Chinese Grant Assistance.
The project is part of overall infrastructure development of Balochistan. It would be developed as a green-field facility with all modern facilities for safe operation. The new Gwadar airport would be able to accommodate large aircraft such as Airbus A380. It would comprise a modern terminal building with cargo terminal having initial handling capacity of 30,000 tons per year.
On this occasion, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed for construction of Pakistan and China Vocational Training Institute and Pak-China Friendship Hospital. The prime minister, who earlier unveiled the plaque of the project, thanked Chinese ambassador for the grant given by his government for the airport.
He welcomed the participants of the expo and said the event would grow with each coming year. Khan assured the fishermen not to worry about their sustenance owing to the construction of the highway as special bridges would be built to facilitate them.
He categorically said any development would be of no use unless it benefited the local people. In his welcoming address, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal appreciated the prime minister for his special attention to the issues facing his province.
He said Balochistan was an underprivileged province needing a special focus from the centre. He lamented that in the past, such decisions were imposed on the province bringing no benefits for its people. The chief minister said the support extended by the federal government and the armed forces was now bringing tangible progress in the province.
"The Balochistan Health Complex is a joint project of Pakistan Army and the provincial government," the chief minister said and praised the role of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa for starting this project.