PM stresses protecting Chinese workers as if they are 'our own'
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday said his government’s latest initiative to attract massive foreign direct investment would bring about a revolution in the country, terming it the “biggest motivating engine” and a vision for Pakistan’s progress.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of multiple development projects in Gwadar, the prime minister thanked China for rolling over a $2.4 billion loan for a two-year period and other friendly countries, including the Gulf states, for supporting Pakistan.
Shehbaz, whose government is completing its tenure in the second week of August, expressed the hope that the incoming caretaker government would carry forward the coalition government’s Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) initiative.
“A mechanism has been established to attract investment and put the country on the course of progress,” he said, referring to the SIFC.
And for its establishment, Shehbaz said, he appreciated the vision and efforts of Chief of the Army Staff Gen Asim Munir.
“If we follow this vision [SIFC], nothing can impede our progress. This will bring about a revolution,” he said. “Concerted efforts and true implementation of the SIFC vision would guarantee prosperity for 220 million people of Pakistan.”
Shehbaz said Balochistan could have achieved progress had the province been provided sufficient resources and its issues been given due attention. But the “negative and sick mentality” marred the situation, he remarked.
He slammed the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for not executing crucial projects despite the fund’s allocation in 2015 by the then Nawaz Sharif’s government.
The plight of Balochistan was owing to the negligence of the previous government, he added.
He said that in coordination with all stakeholders, the Gulf countries planned investment in Pakistan after the government’s economic revival plan.
“It is high time all the institutions and stakeholders join hands and move forward to make up this development deficit.”
Referring to attacks on Chinese workers, Prime Minister Shehbaz said that the people of Balochistan must know that the development of their province would suffer if some of the people, at the behest of their foreign handlers, continued to target their benefactors.
“Today, Pakistan has come out of the danger of default. China helped us a lot in this matter. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE also helped us a lot. These brotherly countries help us unconditionally. These countries are our benefactors and it is our duty to protect those who help us,” he said.
“If we don't protect them, nobody will come here to invest. China is investing in Gwadar … we have to protect their citizens as if they are our own,” Shehbaz said, warning that the enemies sitting outside Pakistan did not want Balochistan to develop.
The ceremony marked the inauguration of several development projects, including the completion of airside infrastructure at the New Gawadar International Airport; Khuzdar-Panjgur Transmission Line, and construction of a two-lane Khuzdar-Basima Road.
He broke ground for the rehabilitation and upgradation of Awaran-Naal and Awaran-Jhal Jaho roads; Khuzdar section of the M8 motorway; Gwadar Safe City project; the establishment of the University of Gwadar and water supply and distribution schemes.
Shehbaz also initiated the dredging process at the Gwadar Port.
“After 2015, no dredging of Gwadar Port has been done, impacting the movement of big ships, but the incumbent government took up the project and will complete it by March next year,” he said.
Likewise, the prime minister continued, the previous government could only bring 100,000 tons of cargo to Gwadar Port, while the incumbent government brought 600,000 tons.
The prime minister told the gathering that the government had started the distribution of cash assistance worth Rs250,000 each among 3,000 fishermen to help them improve their lives as well as their work.
He said the promotion of solar energy could guarantee the development of Balochistan’s industry and people as transmission lines across the country’s biggest province would cost billions of rupees.
The prime minister said the projects like Gwadar Export Zones also faced neglect in the past and an impression was created that Baloch locals were being neglected in the process which was not true.
He directed the relevant authorities to prioritise the security of foreigners.
Addressing a laptop and cheques’ distribution ceremony, Shehbaz announced that the quota of laptops for Balochistan students had been increased by 14%.
“The next time we come [to power], we will increase this quota to 18%,” he said.