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Govt, army on the same page: PM Nawaz

25 April, 2014

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GWADAR: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Thursday that the civil and military leadership was on the same page and committed to working together to make Pakistan a developed, peaceful and secure country, and to retrieve it from the challenges it is facing.

Talking to newsmen after attending a briefing on the pace of ongoing development projects in Balochistan, the prime minister said the present government plans to develop Gwadar as a free port on the lines of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong ports. He said the Planning Commission has been tasked with hiring international consultants for this purpose.

Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik and Chief of 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 Gwadar 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.

Nawaz said the civil and military leadership was on the same page. "We are together and want to retrieve the country from various challenges. We are committed and we will do it," he added. Matters relating to the development of Balochistan, peace and security, and Pak-China Economic Corridor were discussed during the briefing. It also mulled ways and means to connect Kashgar, China, and Gwadar through road and rail links. The prime minister said Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) DG 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. He appreciated FWO DG 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 in the goal to achieve 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 Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik. "He is doing a good job," he remarked. Earlier, during the briefing, the prime minister was apprised that in the Pak-China Economic Corridor project, Rs 162 billion have been allocated for Balochistan only.

He was informed that the provision of clean drinking water, a 300-bed hospital, technical training centre, 19-km expressway and expansion of airport and port have also been planned for Gwadar. Nawaz appreciated the role of federal agencies, army, FC and police in 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 Gwadar should be developed as a free port on the lines of Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong ports, adding, that the interests of the local people should be protected while developing Gwadar.

Prime Minister Nawaz said the development of Gwadar would prove to be a game changer, not only for Balochistan but for the region too. The primer and the chief minister appreciated the efforts of FWO DG in ensuring quality, transparency in development and construction work through fast-track process. While thanking the prime minister the Balochistan chief minister said that for the first time in the history, 78 percent development budget had been released till now and Rs 110 billion have been received under the NFC Award for Balochistan, which is unprecedented.


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