ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday decided to focus on the security and development of Balochistan “neglected” by successive governments for decades.
The decision was taken at the first meeting of the high-powered National Development Council (NDC), presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, one of the key members of the council, also attended the meeting.
According to a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the meeting discussed the development plan for Balochistan, master plan for Gwadar, creation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority and an accelerated development plan 2019-20 for the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
A detailed presentation was given on the Balochistan development plan that included measures to further improve security environment in the province, especially the border management, establish the writ of the state and develop critical sectors for socio-economic betterment of the people of the province, it said.
The NDC was formed in June this year.
The meeting was informed that the past neglect of Balochistan, lack of connectivity and economic integration, security challenges and underutilisation and mismanagement of resources contributed to poverty in the province. A study on the utilisation of development budget for the last eight years revealed that about 45 per cent of the total development expenditure of the province had been wasted due to pilferage.
It was decided that every possible effort would be made to increase the annual development budget of Balochistan over the next nine years, enabling the province to overcome development challenges, reduce budget deficit and enhance its revenue generation capacity.
The meeting was informed that completion of the M-8 Motorway project and construction of 819km Chaman-Quetta-Karachi Motorway, Basima-Khuzdar Road and 124km Awaran-Bela Road projects would significantly improve connectivity and communication infrastructure in Balochistan. The NDC approved a plan to carry out feasibility studies on a port at Gaddani and establish a special economic zone at Hub.
The forum also approved constitution of the National Coastal Development Authority for development of tourist resorts and promotion of tourism along the coastal areas of Balochistan, including Jiwani, Gwadar, Pasni, Makola, Ormara, Kund Malir, Hingol Park and Miani Hor.
Regarding development of ports, the meeting approved a proposal to build eight landing sites for promoting the local boat industry, including provision of 10,000 green boats.
For development of mines and mineral resources in Balochistan, the council was informed that the province would be divided into four zones — Chagai, Quetta-Duki, Khuzdar-Lasbella and coastal areas — and an appropriate model would be put in place to encourage private investment in large-scale mining.
On development of the oil and gas sector, the meeting was informed that efforts were being made to develop four new blocks — Zhob, Zorgarh, Jandran and Kohlu — for exploration, besides carrying out seismic survey at 30 onshore sites.
The meeting was also briefed on various plans for improvement of agriculture and water management in Balochistan. It approved constitution of the CPEC Authority to ensure early implementation of the corridor projects.
Discussing development of Gwadar and master plan for the city, the meeting approved a conceptual framework of Gwadar special economic district.
The forum also discussed the accelerated 10-tier development plan for the erstwhile Fata. The council reiterated the commitment of the federal government to ensure availability of allocated funds, timely releases and special dispensation for procurement of specialised execution agencies (National Engineering Services of Pakistan, Frontier Works Organisation and National Highway Authority) and facilitation for screened NGOs to operate within the merged areas for smooth and uninterrupted development of the tribal areas.
Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2019