QUETTA: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday promised a new era of development and prosperity in Balochistan on his short visit to the province where he performed groundbreaking of Balochistan Health Complex, Gwadar airport and Quetta-Zhob Highway.
The prime minister reached Balochistan’s provincial capital earlier in the day as a part of his inter-provincial trip. During the two-day visit, the PM will also visit Sindh and Punjab.
Addressing at the health complex ceremony, the prime minister said that Centre, with the cooperation of Balochistan government and Pakistan Army, will establish a cancer hospital in Quetta, which will turn this facility into a medical city.
“It is important to understand that heart and cancer treatments need specialists. It was hard for us to arrange oncologists, engineers and others, but now we will start this facility with the help of the army and the provincial government,” he said.
He appreciated Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa for using his connections with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government to set up the health complex.
The prime minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government believes in uplifting all parts of the country on an equal basis, while regretting that Balochistan was neglected by the previous governments.
In a reference to the “game-changer” China-Pakistan project, he said the development of the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will enhance connectivity and will also develop the deprived areas of Balochistan.
Imran also discussed local government system in the province, that consists of village councils. “When you empower people on a village level, it will help development. We have to make sure that development is inclusive. The more we focus on Balochistan, the more it will develop and Pakistan along with it.”
“The people of Balochistan fear that they will become a minority and lose their jobs,” the prime minister said, adding there was a need for the establishment of more technical institutes in the province to prepare its youth for the CPEC-related projects, including Gwadar.
PM Imran said the government is also planning to lay down Quetta-Taftan rail track to connect with Iran.
Terming the western route of CPEC a “game changer”, the prime minister said that work on this should have started earlier. “China was working on the eastern route, we should have worked on the western route,” he said. “This 305-kilometre route will bring a lot of change and development.”
The prime minister also underscored the need to create a master plan for Quetta. “Major cities in Pakistan do not have master plans, and cities are expanding. Unless you have master plans in place, you cannot provide basic facilities to urban areas,” he said. As per the PM, the government is also framing master plans for Islamabad and Lahore.
Addressing the ceremony, Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan said the premier was working to address the grievances of people of Balochistan. He thanked him for starting the work in real terms on western route, calling it “a game changer” for the whole region.
Speaking about the cardiac centre project, the chief minister said it will be constructed within a two year period with the financial assistance of the United Arab Emirates.
HEALTH CARDS OF GWADAR:
“Any development is not the real development unless the local people get benefits,” the prime minister said as he announced Insaf Health Cards for the people of Gwadar during his visit. The beneficiaries could avail medical treatment at any hospital of up to Rs720,000.
“Gwadar has been blessed with very important geo-strategic location,” he said, adding that its people would get benefit from its development.
He said the government has allocated a fixed amount for Gwadar over its worrying power woes and that electricity will be supplied to the port city from the national grid. China will help Gwadar connect to Quetta through railway line as well, he added.
Earlier this week, Lijian Zhao, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese Embassy, tweeted, “On the occasion of the groundbreaking (ceremony) of the new Gwadar international airport and second Gwadar expo, we will show you a different Gwadar port.”
According to report, the prime minister will reach Karachi in late Friday night. In the metropolitan, he has called a meeting of Karachi Transformation Committee at 10 am Sunday, besides an address to the business community.
He will then visit Ghotki, to address a public gathering and MEET key party leaders.
He will end his two-day tour in Punjab where he will hold one-on-one meetings with Usman Buzdar, the chief minister, and Governor Chaudhry Sarwar.
He will also inaugurate two trains, including the Jinnah Express, at the railway station.
The Quetta- Zhob road (N-50 highway) will link Quetta with Zhob while passing through Kuchlak, Muslim Bagh and Qilla Saifullah. It will reduce traveling time between Quetta and Dera Ismail Khan from 12 hours to 4 hours and help uplifting socio-economic activity for the local population, particularly local businesses by providing access to minerals and mines and direct access to main markets.
It will also facilitate speedy transportation of goods from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the seaport of Karachi. N-50 being primary sub-regional corridor running parallel to the western border connecting Afghanistan and Iran with Pakistan and ensuring vital connectivity of CPEC western alignment leading to Gwadar Port.
According to international media, the estimated cost of the project, which is being funded by China, is $230 million
The construction of the airport is expected to be completed within three years. After completion, the airport will be the second largest in Pakistan that will handle ATR 72, Airbus A-300 and Boeing B-747 aircraft on domestic as well as international routes.