ISLAMABAD: Abdul Khaliq, a labourer from Gwadar district of Balochistan, used to suffer in hot weather and have his pre-dawn fast-breaking meals in darkness due to power outages during the holy month of Ramadan.
“Power outages are a suffering during other months too, but during Ramadan, it is at their worst. Rich people of the district have other arrangements like solar panels to face the situation, but poor labourers like me had no choice, but to keep on suffering,” Khaliq told Xinhua.
This year, during Ramadan, Khaliq met a pleasant surprise when one morning, staff from the district administration came to his doorstep to install a solar panel gifted by the Chinese government.
During a ceremony held in Gwadar in July last, the Chinese government signed with Islamabad a Memorandum of Understanding to donate 3,000 sets of solar systems to the people in an effort to address climate change.
“It was a complete set, not only the solar panel but also fans and bulbs and wires. I did not have to pay a single penny for it, and the installation teams quickly fixed the most valuable gift I have ever received from someone at my house,” the 42-year-old said.
The Chinese aid not only lit up thousands of houses but also strengthens the bond of Pakistan-China friendship in people’s hearts.
Athar Abbas Raja, assistant commissioner of Gwadar, under whose supervision units of solar panels are being installed, told Xinhua that they held a survey in the district and distributed the aid to the most underprivileged people.
“There are some people who were living in a bad condition, and could not buy the solar panels on their own, so with the support of China, we brought ease to their lives. The process is still underway, over 1,000 panels have already been installed and the remaining will be installed after the Eid al-Fitr holidays next month,” Raja said.
Talking about the electricity shortage in Gwadar, Raja said electricity in Gwadar is being bought from Iran and due to long transmission lines, there are power outages and people particularly the poor suffer a lot.
The solar panel units were a much-needed solution to the people of Gwadar and they are joyous to receive them before the peak of summer when the electricity problem is at its worst, he added.
The official said Chinese companies have also been taking beneficial initiatives for the people of Gwadar who have got employment opportunities under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) program, and are hopeful that with the industrialisation process in the second phase of CPEC, their living standards will further improve as the Chinese people have successfully eliminated abject poverty in their own country and they know how to uplift the socio-economic structure.
“Not only solar panels, but the Chinese have also facilitated local fishermen’s work in a big way by providing them with the state-of-the-art nets, and hundreds of local fishermen got benefit from it,” Raja said.
Hameed Ullah, a leader of local fishermen from Gwadar, said many of the local fishermen have received costly nets which will help them in deep-sea fishing and make more money for their families.
“The nets are so big and good. My own net was getting old and I was saving money to buy a new one which had to cost me over 50,000 rupees (about 270 U.S. dollars), which was a big money for me,” he said.
“I am overwhelmed that I just got the gift from the Chinese when I wanted it the most. Other fishermen are so happy too. With new nets, some are planning to engage their unemployed son or brother into the business and increase their family income.”
The experts believe that the Chinese help and generation of economic and business opportunities for locals are gradually transforming the lives of people.
Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, CEO of the Asian Institute of Eco-civilisation Research and Development, said the recent Chinese assistance to locals is an excellent example of boosting socio-economic development through bilateral cooperation, and it will help the Pakistani people not only overcome challenges of daily life, including hot weather, but also help create business opportunities.