Gawadar to be developed as a `free port’: PM

GAWADAR: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday said the present government plans to develop Gawadar as a `Free Port’ on the lines of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong ports.

The Planning Commission has been tasked with the exercise to hire international consultants for this purpose, he said while talking to media-persons here after attending a briefing on the pace of on-going development projects in Balochistan.

Chief Minister Balochistan, Dr. Abdul Malik and Chief of the Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif were also present on the occasion.

The Prime Minister said the government has a broad-based plan for the development of Gawadar under which the port city would have a state of the art airport and a developed seaport.

He said a new security force would also be raised for the security and protection of foreign nationals, particularly the Chinese citizens, working on various projects in the area.

The Prime Minister said the civil and military leadership was on the same page and committed to work together for making Pakistan a developed, peaceful and secure country and retrieve it from the challenges it was facing.

“We are together and want to retrieve the country from various challenges. We are committed and we will do it”, he added.

The Prime Minister said during today’s meeting, the matters relating to development of Balochistan, peace and security and Pak-China Economic Corridor were discussed.

The ways and means to connect Kashgar (China) and Gawadar through road and rail links were deliberated in detail, he added.

The Prime Minister said Director General Frontier Works Organization (FWO) briefed the meeting about the pace of work on various road projects underway in the province.

Nawaz Sharif expressed his government’s resolve to lay a network of roads in Balochistan during the current tenure.

The Prime Minister appreciated DG FWO Maj. Gen. Muhammad Afzal for his dedication in the development and construction work in Balochistan with the support of Army Staff.

He said the development work in Balochistan by FWO was not aimed at making profits, as profit does not matter to achieve the goal of peace and progress in the province.

The Prime Minister said he would also convene a cabinet meeting in Balochistan.

Nawaz Sharif was highly appreciative of the policies of reforms, good governance and merit, initiated by Chief Minister Balochistan Dr. Abdul Malik. “He is doing good job”, he remarked.

Earlier, during the briefing, the Prime Minister was apprised that in Pak-China Economic Corridor, Rs 162 billion have been allocated for Balochistan only.

He was informed that the provision of clean drinking, 300-bed hospital, technical training center, 19-km expressway and expansion of airport and port have also been planned for Gawadar.

The Prime Minister appreciated the role of federal agencies, Army, FC and police for improving the law and order situation in Balochistan during the last 10 months.

He directed the Finance Minister to release Rs. 1.6 billion for the port dredging.

The Prime Minister said that Gawadar should be developed as a free port on the lines of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong ports, adding, interests of local people should be protected while developing Gawadar.

The Prime Minister said the development of Gawadar would prove to be a game changer, not only for Balochistan but for the region too.

The Prime Minister and the Chief Minister appreciated the services of DG FWO for ensuring quality, transparency in development and construction work through fast-track process.

The Chief Minister Balochistan while thanking the Prime Minister said that for the first time in the history, 78 % development budget had been released till now and Rs. 110 billion have been received under the NFC Award for Balochistan, which is unprecedented.

Source: APP