PM Nawaz for giving special status to Gwadar
24 August, 2013
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Friday said Gwadar had a potential like Dubai and Singapore and it could be given a special status like Hong Kong to attract foreign investment and boost national economy.
The prime minister was chairing a meeting here at the Prime Minister's Office to discuss the Kashgar to Gwadar Economic Corridor that would open up new areas for economic activity and generate employment.
The PM also approved in principal upgradation of the existing railway track system between Karachi and Peshawar at a cost of $ US 2.7 billion.
The two-year project would modernise signaling, communications, locomotives and enable the trains to run at a speed of 120 km per hour. This would also shorten the time needed to travel between Karachi to Lahore from 18 to 12 hours and between Karachi to Peshawar from 27 to 17 hours.
Minister for Railways Saad Rafique said around 67 per cent of the country's rail track was overage and so was its entire locomotives fleet and signaling system.
The premier also proposed construction of a new airport for Islamabad at Rawat, construction of new tunnels, train links and roads across the country.
He, however, noted that the economic activity in the country could only be generated once there was peace and tranquility.
He mentioned the recent deliberations of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet that discussed the issue of extremism and terrorism and said there was also a need to address the energy crisis on urgent basis.
The prime minister stressed the importance of a meaningful interaction and said it will help address all issues.
Sharif recalled his Chinese visit where the Chinese side expressed concerns about security situation in Pakistan.
He said Pakistan had to tender apologies for the killings of Chinese nationals in terror-related incidents.
Referring to the Economic Corridor, the prime minister said both sides were taking keen interest in the project as not only China but the entire region would benefit from this mega project.
He said Pakistan-China Economic Corridor was future of the country. He recalled his earlier meetings which discussed the Trade Corridor from Kashgar to Khunjerab and Gwadar and in principal, approved the proposed alignment of Pak-China Trade Corridor, with the directions to further evaluate the proposal in terms of time and cost efficiency.
He said the Gwadar Port would help reduce the time needed for transportation of Chinese exports from 16 to four days, besides reducing the cost considerably.
He said the existing motorways could be handed over to the private sector to generate around Rs 250 billion annually that would help fund construction of new roads. The premier directed that the existing and the new motorways be linked with the highways to improve connectivity.
He also pointed that the new airport being constructed near Fatehjang had design faults and there was a need to have a new airport near Rawat that would be linked with Islamabad and Rawalpindi through train links and an expressway.
He said there was no space in the budget for such huge projects, however there was a need to have out-of-the box solutions to auction the land, along this highway in a transparent manner and generate funds.
He said similar projects could be conceived in Lahore and Karachi, including the underground Metro service in the two cities and said
China had evinced keen interest to fund these projects.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar pointed that the Pakistan Economic Corridor alignment must keep in view the future hydel projects like the Bhasha and Dasu dams, so that there was no need to change their designs in future.
Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) in his briefing said Pakistan owing to its geo-strategic location could provide linkages with the Central Asian Republics, the Gulf countries and China.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Pervaiz Rashid, Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafiq and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatmi, and senior officials.