GWADAR: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday inaugurated the shipment of trade goods from Gwadar Port to international markets, marking the historic launch of trade activity under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Addressing the CPEC launch ceremony at Gwadar Port, the prime minister hailed the historic moment as the “dawn of a new era” and said the CPEC is destined to transform the entire country and open up a world of possibilities for not just Pakistan but also Central Asian states and the rest of Asia.
The prime minister was accompanied by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, among other dignitaries.
“Gwadar – the jewel of the economy”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the CPEC promises to transform Gwadar into one of the world’s most prominent ports and a hub of economic and trade activity.
“The government is working on a masterplan to transform the region while protecting the environment and ensuring livelihood of the locals,” he said, adding that the government is committed to completing all projects under the CPEC on time.
“It is a watershed project which will link Balochistan as well as the entire country to the rest of Asia,” the prime minister said.
He said the Arabian sea coastline offers vast opportunities to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia but before the development of the roads, it was difficult to harness the benefits. “The newly opened roads in Balochistan under FWO to facilitate the CPEC have opened up a world of new possibilities for the region,” the premier said.
He added that Rs 49 billion have been spent on developing the road network and projects worth Rs 200 billion will be launched in the region next year.
The prime minister lauded the efforts of the federal government, the Balochistan government and the Pakistan Army and other security personnel in making the project possible.
He emphasised that the CPEC will benefit all of Pakistan and no region will be left out. He added that the enemies of CPEC are enemies of Pakistan and do not want to see the country prosper.
The prime minister expressed his grief over the Shah Noorani shrine attack which killed at least 52 people and injured over 100 on Saturday, and vowed to defeat the intentions of the terrorists.
“Such attacks cannot weaken our resolve. Defeating the terrorists is the government’s top priority. We want to achieve a prosperous Pakistan through political stability, peace and security, infrastructure development,” he said.
Trade caravan reaches Gwadar from China
The trade cargo caravan reached Gwadar from China under the strict security cover of Pakistan Army and other security agencies and would now be shipped to its next export destinations.
“This is the onset of the progress that has been awaited for years. But now this journey will continue till the times to come,” the Prime Minister House said in a statement on Saturday.
Gwadar is said to be nature’s gift to Pakistan and Chinese friendship and cooperation has made it more valuable to both the countries. “We are crossing new milestone into a new era of international relations,” the statement added.
Gwadar Port is rich with new possibilities not only for Pakistan and China but also for the rest of the world, with a large scope of import and export activity from Central Asia to the Middle East.
The shipment of first trade cargo from Gwadar to the international market heralds a changed Pakistan.
Starting its journey from Kashghar, the trade cargo reached Gwadar safely from Gilgit-Baltistan after travelling across the country – a manifestation of the image of a peaceful Pakistan.
Every region of Pakistan is slated to benefit from the CPEC, which is a comprehensive project of peace and economic progress. Besides Pakistan and China, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian states will also be able to take advantage of the project.
Besides enhancing communication network, supply, trade and cultural links, the Corridor will also help promote peace, resources and harmony in the region.
The government has already allocated land for Gwadar Free Trade Zone and has also announced concessions for Gwadar Port and Free Trade Zone in Balochistan.
Moreover, the projects of Exclusive Industrial Park Processing Zone and Mineral Economic Zone are also being executed on a priority basis.
Other development projects for Gwadar
A project worth Rs 25 billion is being executed for the development of Gwadar city keeping in view its importance. The federal government gave a free hand to the provincial government in that regard that designed the project considering Gwadar’s basic needs. The provincial government is implementing the project and the resources are being provided by the federal government.
The federal government provided resources for the installation of a plant to make the sea water drinkable, besides launching an additional Rs 11.5 billion project for clean drinking water to Gwadar during 2015-16.
The quality of underground water is also being improved and the existing 50-bed hospital is being upgraded to 300-bed facility.
A university, and a technical and vocational training institute are also being set up in Gwadar to produce required manpower. The locals will be preferred for enrollment in these institutes.
Under CPEC, the government has prioritized energy and road infrastructure. To meet the electricity needs, a 300 megawatt power plant is being installed in Gwadar that will also be linked to national grid.
A Special Security Force has been raised to provide a security cover to the Chinese investors. Gwadar is also being made a safe city that will boost investors’ confidence.
The construction of a new international airport is also underway in Gwadar to facilitate the movement of investors. Moreover, Gwadar city is also being connected with rest of the country through road and rail networks.