Published On: Thu, Dec 31st, 2015
Published in Category: District News

PM inaugurates western alignment of CPEC

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Zhob: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday inaugurated the western route of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at Balochistan’s Zhob.

Addressing attendees at the inaugural ceremony, the premier urged all political forces to create a united front in order to eradicate the curse of terrorism from the country.

“I cannot do it alone,” PM Nawaz emphasised.

The premier said the project would open new vistas of development and prosperity in the region. “The country will progress after this project,” he stated. “Pakistan’s progress will start from Balochistan.”

Nawaz emphasied that Balochistan’s development was his government’s top priority, and that the province played a crucial role in the development of the country.

He also briefly referred to the progress made with India in the matter of bilateral negotiations. PM Nawaz thanked the Indian prime minister for visiting Pakistan. “It has been agreed that we will re-start the dialogue between Pakistan and India,” he said.

The premier laid the foundation stone of two key projects – upgradation of the Zhob-Mughal Kot section of the Dera Ismail Khan-Qila Saifullah Highway (N-50) and the Qilla Saifullah-Waigam Rud Road section of the Multan-Dera Ghazi Khan-Qilla Saifullah Highway (N-70).

The Zhob-Mughal Kot Section is part of the western route of the CPEC which starts from Burhan on the Peshawar-Islamabad motorway (M-1), and after moving through DI Khan, Zhob, Quetta, Surab and Hoshab, ends at Gwadar.

The Zhob-Mughal Kot section is 81 kilometres (km) long and its upgradation will cost Rs9 billion, and is expected to be completed by 2018. The Qilla Saifullah-Waigam Rud section is 128km long and will cost around Rs 8bn.

The Prime Minister was also briefed on the projects. Chairman National Highway Authority Shahid Ashraf Tarar while addressing the inauguration ceremony said motorways and expressways in Pakistan in the next three years will span lengths thrice as long as they currently are.

From Khunjerab to Gwadar, all areas will be connected by means of motorways, he said, adding that the routes would make it easier for traders to access markets.

On occasion, Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Zehri felt the project was the “positive stride” towards the country’s economic development. Alluding to recent controversies over the CPEC project, he further said, “There has to be no negative propaganda against CPEC.”

Senator Hasil Bizenjo, meanwhile, said that had the development projects been completed in a timely manner in the past, there would have been long-sustained peace in the troubled province. “Poverty and unemployment are the underlying causes of terrorism,” he said.

JUI chief Maulana Fazal ur Rehman similarly felt that the CPEC project was a matter of “immense pleasure”, since it addressed basic issues in the province and would help pave the way for durable piece in the region. The Maulana also said that peace in Afghanistan was crucial for Pakistan. “The war-torn country provides access to resource-rich central asian states,” he added.

Mehmood Achakzai also stressed upon the necessity of smooth and transparent working relations with neighboring countries to make the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) pipeline project a success. He demanded that PM Nawaz take all political forces in confidence regarding the giant CPEC project.

“We want to develop at all costs,” Mian Iftikhar of ANP said. However, while he felt the western route was an important step in the process of eliminating terrorism from the country, the port of Gwadar, he felt, belonged to Balochistan first.

“Gwadar first belongs to the Balochs, and then to Pakistan,” Iftikhar stated.

The ceremony was attended by key party representatives and government officials, including JUI-F chief Maulana Fazal ur Rehman, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, secretary general of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) Mushahid Hussain Syed, ANP Central General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain Shah, National Security Adviser (NSA) Gen (retd) Janjua, Federal Minister for States and Frontier Regions Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Federal Minister for Textile and Industries Abbas Khan Afridi, and Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);