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November 14, 2020

Balochistan backwardness: Blame rests at past rulers’ doors, says Imran

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November 14, 2020

TURBAT: Vowing to bring Balochistan on a par with other areas of the country, Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday announced a mega development package for provision of basic facilities like gas, electricity, water, Internet etc in nine southern districts of the province. “I have not come here on a political trip, or to ask for votes, or announce projects for clapping. But as it is my faith that any country or nation cannot progress without taking care of the backward and downtrodden, I vow and will fully strive to bring this province on a par with the other areas of the country,” he said while addressing the elders of southern Balochistan here. Imran said Balochistan lagged behind due to the fact that Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had maximum population and the major political parties did not need votes from the Balochistan province to form a government at the federal level.

Moreover, he said, unfortunately political leaders from Balochistan in the past, like others throughout the country, also thought of their personal interests instead of thinking for the people of their respective areas.

“There had been a prime minister and a president (in the past), who made more trips of London and Dubai respectively than Balochistan,” Imran Khan remarked.

He said despite reduction of Rs900 billion in revenue collection due to closure of economic activities in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, his government came up with a development package for the southern Balochistan.

Besides other things, he said, some 500,000 people in southern Balochistan would be provided with the facility of 4G Internet connectivity under the package.

It would particularly benefit the youth in the era of Information Technology, he added.

The prime minister also announced the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme for southern Balochistan.

Under the scheme, he said, homeless, poor and low income salaried people would be provided with the financing facility at a mere 5% mark-up for construction of their own houses.

Imran Khan said China, which pulled its 700 million people out of poverty in 30 years, launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to ensure the development its less developed southern parts.

The Chinese leadership realized the fact that any country could not progress through the development of a smaller segment of people or areas but only by taking the whole nation along, he added.

The prime minister said the country was like a home, which could only prosper when all its inmates moved forward together.

Talking about the country’s economic situation, he said despite the effects of COVID-19, which had hit India badly in economic terms, as well as the fiscal and current account deficits his government inherited, Pakistan had come out of the difficult situation and its economic indicators were positive.

He said under the Ehsaas Poverty Reduction programme, billions of rupees were being disbursed to check poverty.

The prime minister said with the current account recorded in surplus after 17 years, there had been no increase in debt during the last four months.

He cautioned the people to continue to follow the COVID-19 SOPs, including the use of facemasks, as the second wave of coronavirus had hit the country.

The prime minister thanked Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar for announcing Rs730 million for a hospital in the area and said he (Buzdar) had played the role of a big brother for Balochistan.

He also announced a mega development project for South Balochistan areas featuring construction of 1,100 kilometer roads, skill training of 3,500 youth and expansion of power and gas supply networks.

The prime minister also inaugurated Daar-ul-Ehsaas facility for the orphan and other poor children to provide them free shelter, food and education.

The Waseela-e-Taleem program, also launched by the prime minister, would help enroll additional 83,000 children in the schools.

Moreover, 640,000 children, including 360,000 out of school and 280,000 school going, would be facilitated through accelerated and distance learning programs.

The prime minister also kicked off the nationwide Waseela-e-Taleem Digital Program for primary schoolgoing students.

The prime minister also performed the ground-breaking of various development projects, including Extension of Turbat Airport, 200- bed Makran Medical Teaching Hospital, University of Turbat, Phase-II, and Hoshab-Awaran section of M-8 (146 km two-lane road).

On this occasion, he was also briefed and updated by the National Highway Authority (NHA) officials about progress on Basima-Khuzdar Road N-30 (106 km two-lane road).

Under the development package, around 320,000 additional households would be supplied electricity besides enhancing electricity network from existing 12 percent to 57 percent of the households.

Around 15 percent of the Ehsaas beneficiary families would get subsidized LPG at 33pc of the cost.

The package comprises construction of 210 basic health units, annual addition of 150 local nurses and improved nutrition for 7000 households under Ehsaas Nashonuma program.

Establishment of six border markets, cash transfer to additional 25,000 families, loan for 2,000 fishermen, three dates processing units and an olive extraction unit are also part of the development package besides technological support for marble and mineral industry.

Under the plan, 35,000 youth would be imparted skill training to enable them to earn as freelancer besides extending internet facility to another 0.5 million people.

Moreover, 0.15 million acres land would be cultivated and 16 dams to be constructed to add 0.5 million acres feet of water storage.

With the construction of 1,100 kilometer road network, 1.9 million people would get access to larger market.

The development plan is expected to create more than 120,000 jobs for the area where 0.7 million people of up to 35 years are unemployed.

Addressing the students of the University of Turbat here, he termed the youth of Balochistan the country’s ‘asset and future’.

Imran arrived here on a day-long visit to announce projects for the socio-economic development of the province.

He said the federal government would provide maximum funds for the progress of Balochistan’s youth in the education sector.

“We want an intellectual base be prepared in Balochistan, ready to meet the challenges of today’s world,” he said.

He said the government was determined to ensure uplift of the people of Balochistan and provide them with facilities in all areas particularly education and health on a par with other parts of the country.

“You are the future leaders of Pakistan and the intellect which will lead the country’s journey towards prosperity,” he told the university students.

He said the Punjab had increased the number of scholarships for the students of Balochistan from 135 to 360 in higher education.

Meanwhile, the prime minister Friday said Pakistan by the grace of Almighty Allah was moving towards economic recovery faster than any country in the subcontinent despite facing the Covid-19 challenge.

“MashaAllah, Pak moving towards economic recovery faster than any country in subcontinent & this despite having to deal with COVID-19 challenge,” he tweeted.

“LSM’s impressive growth of 7.7% in September. Our Industrial Energy Package will help add capacity & raise production,” he said in the tweet and also uploaded a related image.