–Imran announces 4G services, Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme for Balochistan
TURBAT: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, vowing to bring the Balochistan at par with other areas of the country, announced a mega development package for the provision of basic facilities like electricity, gas, water, Internet, etc. in its nine southern districts.
“I have not come here on a political trip, or to ask for votes, or announce the projects for clapping. But as it is my faith that any country or nation cannot progress without taking care of the backward and downtrodden, I vow and will fully strive to bring this province at par with other areas of the country,” he said while addressing the elders of southern Balochistan.
The prime minister said that Balochistan lagged behind due to the fact that Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) had maximum population and the major political parties did not need votes of that province to form a government at federal level.
Moreover, he said, unfortunately the political leaders from Balochistan in the past, like others throughout the country, also thought of their personal interests instead of thinking for the people of their respective areas.
“There had been a prime minister and a president (in the past), who made more trips of London and Dubai respectively, than Balochistan,” Imran Khan remarked.
The prime minister said that despite the reduction of Rs900 billion in revenue collection due to closure of economic activities in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, his government had come up with a development package for the southern Balochistan.
Besides other things, he said, some 500,000 people in the southern Balochistan would be provided with the facility of 4G Internet connectivity under the package. It would particularly benefit the youth in the era of Information Technology, he added.
The prime minister also announced the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme for southern Balochistan. Under the scheme, he said, homeless, poor and low-income salaried people would be provided with the financing facility at a mere 5 per cent mark-up for the construction of their own houses.
He said that in the past Balochistan was not given the attention, it deserved. The main reason behind the success of Riasat-e-Madina, the first welfare state in the world, was improving the lot of poor and weaker segments of the society, he added.
PM Imran said that China, which pulled its 700 million people out of poverty in 30 years, launched the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project to ensure the development its less developed southern parts.
The Chinese leadership realised the fact that any country could not progress through the development of a smaller segment of people or areas but only by taking the whole nation along, he added.
The prime minister said that the country was like a home which could only prosper when all its inmates moved forward together. “The prime minister is like a father and he should strive to take all the people along,” he remarked.
He said that CPEC, through its connectivity with Gwadar, would equally benefit Pakistan and Balochistan.
The premier said with China, having an annual trade of US$2,000 billion and progressing fast to become a superpower in the world, Pakistan was fortunate to have its connectivity for the benefit of whole country, including Balochistan.
Talking about the country’s economic situation, he said despite the effects of Covid-19, which had hit India badly in economic terms, as well as the fiscal and current account deficits his government inherited, Pakistan had come out of the difficult situation and its economic indicators were positive.
He said that under the Ehsaas Poverty Reduction programme, billions of rupees were being disbursed to check poverty.
The prime minister said that with the current account recorded in surplus after 17 years, no increase in debt during the last four months, well performing stock market – best in Asia, the country’s economy was on the right track.
He mentioned the second wave of coronavirus and cautioned the people to continue to follow the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs), including the use of face mask for protection from the deadly virus.
The prime minister thanked Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar for announcing Rs 730 million for a hospital in the area and said he (Buzdar) had played the role of a big brother for Balochistan.
Earlier, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar said under the package for southern Balochistan, 47,000 homes in nine districts would be connected with the National Grid for the provision of electricity and 273,000 would be provided with off-grid electricity.
In order to overcome the gas shortage, he said, the people would be provided with the facility of liquified petroleum gas on subsidised rates. Initially 15 per cent of the poor would be provided with the subsidy, which would late be expanded to 30 per cent, he added.
The minister said that for addressing the issue of water, 19 dams would be constructed in the southern Balochistan, which would irrigate 150,000 acres of agricultural lands in the area.
Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal, speaking on the occasion, thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for announcing the package and said it was after 45 years that a prime minister visited the area and interacted with the people there.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal said that the previous governments did not pay any attention to the development of Balochistan and utilised the CPEC projects for other provinces.
During the visit, the premier announced a mega development project for South Balochistan areas featuring construction of 1,100-kilometre roads, skill training to 3,500 youth and expansion of power and gas supply networks.
He also inaugurated Daar-ul-Ehsaas facility for the orphan and other poor children to provide them free shelter, food and education.
The Waseela-e-Taleem Programme, also launched by the prime minister, would help enroll additional 83,000 children in the schools. Moreover, 640,000 children, including 360,000 out of school and 280,000 school going, would be facilitated through accelerated and distance learning programmes.
On the occasion, the prime minister also kicked off the nationwide Waseela-e-Taleem Digital Programme for primary school going students.
The plan also contains Ehsaas’ Educational Scholarships for the deserving primary school girls and undergraduates of the area.
Special Assistant to the PM on Poverty Reduction Dr Sania Nishtar briefed the prime minister on Daar-ul-Ehsaas and Ehsaas’ Educational Scholarships programmes.
The prime minister performed the ground-breaking of various development projects, including Extension of Turbat Airport, 200- bed Makran Medical Teaching Hospital, University of Turbat, Phase-II, and Hoshab-Awaran section of M-8 (146 km two-lane road).
On this occasion, he was also briefed and updated by the National Highway Authority (NHA) officials about the progress on Basima-Khuzdar Road N-30 (106 km two-lane road).
Under the development package, around 320,000 additional households would be supplied electricity besides enhancing electricity network from existing 12 per cent to 57 per cent of the households. Around 15 percent of the Ehsaas beneficiary families would get subsidised LPG at 33pc of the cost.
The package comprises construction of 210 basic health units, annual addition of 150 local nurses and improved nutrition for 7,000 households under Ehsaas Nashonuma Programme.
Establishment of six border markets, cash transfer to additional 25,000 families, loan for 2,000 fishermen, three dates processing units and an olive extraction unit are also part of the development package besides technological support for marble and mineral industry.
Under the plan, 35,000 youth would be imparted skill training to enable them earn as freelancers besides extending internet facility to another 0.5 million people.
Moreover, 0.15 million acres land would be cultivated and 16 dams to be constructed to add 0.5 million acres feet of water storage.
With the construction of 1,100-kilometre road network, 1.9 million people would get access to larger market.
The development plan is expected to create more than 120,000 jobs for the area where 0.7 million people of up to 35 years are unemployed.
PM Imran, terming youth of Balochistan as the country’s ‘asset and future’ said that the federal government would provide maximum funds for their progress in education sector.
“We want an intellectual base be prepared in Balochistan, ready to meet the challenges of today’s world,” the premier said in his address to students of the University of Turbat.
“You are the future leaders of Pakistan and the intellect which will lead the country’s journey towards prosperity,” he told the university students, hailing from different areas of Balochistan.
The prime minister mentioned that Punjab had increased the number of scholarships for the students of Balochistan from 135 to 360 in higher education.
PM Imran said that uniform development of all units of the federation was important for an overall progress of the country.
“The prosperity of Balochistan is linked with the prosperity of Pakistan,” he said.
PM Imran said that the revolution in information technology offered immense potential for avenues to be explored in virtual education.
He advised the youth in Balochistan’s far-flung areas to tap the opportunities by gaining knowledge through distant learning modes.
He said that with dedication and persistent struggle, any challenge could be overcome in way to success.
“A dream comes to realisation when a person refuses to give up and continues to achieve his goals,” he told the students, urging them to never quit in difficult situations and always rise from the ashes.
About his vision to emulate Pakistan as the State of Medina, the prime minister said that quest for knowledge was an important feature of the world’s first socio-economic state.
He said that education helped the people to distinguish between right or wrong and mentioned a saying of Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him) who told people ‘to seek knowledge from the cradle to grave’.
He said that Muslim scientists ruled the world for 100 years until the decline started when education was given a least priority.
The prime minister called upon the youth of Balochistan and the entire country to make their mark in the field of education and bring laurels to the country.