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A beginning of economic activity in the so far neglected Balochistan

By AMANULLAH BASHAR
April 01 - 07, 2002

After the epoch making event of Chaghi in 1988, the province of Balochistan has once again in the limelight this time with an economic bombshell in the shape of "Gawadar deep sea port" surrounded by panoramic mountains and Balochistan blue and green waters of the Arabian Sea.

The project is going to serve as a trade hub for shipment of cargo from and to Northern and Western Pakistan, China, Iran and Afghanistan and will be a gateway of trade for the Central Asian Republics (CARs).

President Pervez Musharraf, while performing groundbreaking of Gawadar Port foresees that the economic activity generated by the port will bring a glorious future for the people of Balochistan as well as Pakistan. The project is being built by China Harbour Engineering Company at a cost of $184 million of which Pakistan will provide $50 million is building the port.

Notwithstanding, the ground breaking of this project took place in 2002. The idea of developing Gawadar as an economic zone along with a deep-sea port was conceived by Shaikh Javaid some 20 years ago when he was the chairman of Pakistan Shippers Council. During the course of time he visited Gawadar several times and tried to convince the business community to develop a free trade zone in Gawadar which has the potential to be a gateway to the Central Asian States, Gulf States and also a corridor to the west. Shaikh Javaid must be the happiest man on the earth as his dreams come true on the occasion of groundbreaking ceremony. He got the opportunity to witness the history-making event as the official representative of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). His time consuming and sincere devotion to see the development of Gawadar as an economic giant in this region certainly makes him fit to be called as "Bab-e-Gawadar".

The construction of the first phase, which consists of three-multi-purpose berths to receive ships of 50,000 DWT is to be completed in three years.

The second phase envisages construction of ten berths including two dedicated container terminals, a bulk grain terminal with 100,000 DWT capacity and two oil terminals to receive ships of 200,000 DWT.

The construction of first commercial port at Makran Coast is of vital significance for the development of trade relations with the Central Asian States. It will receive cargo through mother vessels and will transport the same at cost effective rates to the land locked countries through feeder vessels. The port with its allied rail road links will make it a trade gateway for the CARs.

Situated at the junction of traditional trade routes and opposite Strait of Hormuz the Gawadar port will provide most modern shipment facilities to import and export from Northern Areas and Balochistan.

The coastal highway now under construction will also link Gawadar Port with the Karachi Port thus generating a hectic cycle of trade activities.

The President described the region as a funnel with CARs on the top with Afghanistan and Pakistan on sides and Gawadar at the narrow end of the funnel. This port will provide inlet and outlets to all cargoes originating from and to these countries.

Speaking on the occasion President Mushrraf has said that today is the history making day not only for Pakistan China friendship but also for the development of this province. We are gathered here for ground breaking of the first commercial port on Makran Coast and added that the port had been planned many years ago but the present government got the credit to taking this project in hand.

The project would have not been possible without the financial technical assistance of China and without the personal interest shown by the Chinese Prime Minister Zorangi. Both the Chinese and Pakistani engineers by dint of hard work carried out the feasibility and technical studies and prepared designs of the Port within 30 days.

There is also a plan to set up an industrial zone and an export processing zone at the hinterland of the Port which would offer investment opportunities as well as job outlets to the people of the under developed province of Balochistan.

Since the project is being developed in the so far neglected area of Balochistan, the project will open new doors of opportunities for the local people. The government has decided to set up a technical training centre at Gawadar to prepare the local people take up jobs created with the development.

Keeping in view the bitter experience of Karachi Export Processing Zone which miserably failed to take off even after two decades of its inception, Iftikhar Malik, President of the FPCCI has strongly recommended that the Private sector should be taken into confidence to run the proposed export processing zone at Gawadar. FPCCI can provide all sort of support in making the zone a success, he assured.