Some new development projects

From Shamim Ahmed Rizvi,

Sep 20 - 26, 2004





President General Pervez Musharraf has taken some timely initiatives to focus on development of Balochistan. During his two-day visit to the province last week he, besides inaugurating some new development projects, made a very generous offer that he was willing to meet all concerned to solve the problems of the province irrespective of his political cast of creed as the cause of Balochistan was as dear to him as to any body else.

Stressing the need for rapid development of this backward province he said that it was essential for the progress and welfare of the people of the province and removing their grievances. He claimed that never in the short period of 5 years so many development projects have been launched in Baloshistan as under his government. He enumerated the various measures taken and the development projects launched during the last five years. The government has expedited the process of development of Balochistan and has been given more than its rightful share because of the past neglect. This process should continue till it achieves a level of development compareable to other parts of the country.

Inaugurating the Sui Gas supply project to Ziarat, 75 km from Budin, President Musharraf announces that all parts of Balochistan would get natural gas during the next four years. The gas pipeline completed by Sui Southern Gas Company at a cost of Rs. 370 million would not only meet the fuel requirements of the tribesmen living in Ziarat and surrounding icy cold areas but would also save Pakistan's most precious 4,000 years old juniper forest. For want of fuel, the tribesmen had no option but to use juniper wood to ward off severe winters and use precious trees' wood for cooking and commercial purposes which destroying Ziarat's natural beauty. The President said that by the grace of God he had succeeded in fulfilling his pledge for gas supply to Ziarat by Sui gas pipeline promised for the people of Balochistan earlier. President Musharraf said he was confident that the project would open an era of socio-economic prosperity for the people of Ziarat, a beautiful historic hill resort where Quaid-e-Azam had preferred to spend last days of his life.

Sui gas supply project at Ziarat by President synchronized with the 56th death anniversary of the Father of the Nation on Saturday. President Musharraf, members of his entourage including Governor, Chief Minister, Provincial Ministers, Corp Commander and others observed Quaid's death anniversary at Ziarat Residency where the Father of the Nation had stayed before breathing his last. Prayers were offered for the departed soul, integrity, security and sovereignty of Pakistan.

Inaugurating a watercourse brick-lining project at Kuchlat, some 20 kilometers away from the city, he said the people would start reaping the fruits of these development projects in the next couple of years.

The President said that the up-lift schemes launched in the province would generate tremendous economic activities to the benefit of the common man. Referring to the various mega projects in the province, the President said, billion of rupees wre being spent on Gwadar Port, Coastal Highway, Kachi Canal, Mirani Dam, Sabakzai Dam and Quetta Water Supply Project. The road network and railway tracks were also being improved in the province, he added. However, the President said, some miscreants were creating hurdles in the way of development projects by expressing baseless suspicious statements. He asked the people to extend full cooperation in executing these uplift schemes, which will usher in a new era of progress in the province.



Presidnt Musharraf said over 7,000 existing water courses would be cemented and 6,366 new water channels would be constructed in Balochistan in the next four years. Moreover, 14,000 new water tanks would also be constructed in the Province, he added. The completion of these projects will help irrigate over 0.5 million acres of fruit orchards in the province that, in turn, will lead to increased yield, which may be exported. The President remarked that the development of Balochistan would not only contribute in strengthening the national economy but would also help remove a sense of deprivation from the province. The President said he himself was heading a cell that had been established at the federal level to oversee the massive watercourses bricklining projects in the country.

About the financial problems of the province, President Musharraf said he fully realized their difficulties caused by prolong drought in the province which affecting the agriculture and livestock sectors. The government was making all out efforts to overcome their problem and to rehabilitate these sectors on which over 50% of the province population was dependent for their livelihood, he assured. As a result of the prudent economic policies, the country's economy was stable and efforts were still under way for its further improvement, he added

Explaining the steps being taken by the government for the welfare of the people he said that the development fund for Balochistan have been increased from three to seven percent by the federal government. He spoke about the work being under taken on a number of projects including dams and roads. He said after the completion of the road network it would be easier to send the agricultural produce of the province to the markets in the Punjab. He said that 66 billion rupees, being spent on improvement on irrigation resources in the country, would greatly increase the agricultural production in the province. He very categorically spoke of the preference to be given to the locals in employment opportunities as a result of development projects in the province.

These pronouncements by the President assume special significance in view of the current atmosphere of tension in the province. In spite of being the largest province of the country in terms of area, Balochistan is also the most under-developed. One of the main reasons for this backwardness is political. Because of this its unlimited resources could not be exploited to the maximum. Certainly, the province has some justified complaints against the bigger provinces but the tribal system, with its traditions and regulations, is also said to be largely responsible for this backwardness. Whatever be the reasons for this, efforts should be made to remove this backwardness so that deprivations of the people of the province for the last five decades and more come to an end. Along with the elected representatives of the people and the sardars, who represent the tribal system, all sections of the people should be extended an open invitation to discuss these problems to arrive at a mutual understanding. The President has already initiated this process now the requirement is that this process is made fully transparent, the whole negotiations are brought to the timely notice of the people, and efforts should be made to remove the doubts of the objectors. It is high time all these matters are settled once for all so that the province is able to reap the benefits of progress.