Sat, Dec 3, 2016 | updated 01:24 AM IST

Huge protests expected in Balochistan today as PM Sharif set to inaugurate Gwadar Port

Updated: Nov 13, 2016 10:04 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], Nov.13 (ANI): Huge protests are expected to take place in Pakistan's largest province Balochistan on Sunday as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif gets set to inaugurate Gwadar Port.

In anticipation of the protests by the indigenous Baloch population, a heavy security presence has been deployed to prevent any untoward incident.

The inauguration ceremony at Gwadar for the commencement of trading activities will also be attended by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and Islamabad-based ambassadors of at least 15 countries.

On Saturday, a statement issued from the Prime Minister House said, "This (inauguration) is the onset of the progress that has been awaited for years. But now this journey will continue till the times to come."

It said Gwadar was nature's gift to Pakistan and Chinese friendship and cooperation had made it more valuable.

"We are crossing new milestone into a new era of international relations," it added.

The statement reiterated that the Gwadar Port is rich of new possibilities not only for Pakistan and China but also for the whole world with a scope of import and export activity from Central Asia to the Middle East.

"The shipment of first trade cargo from Gwadar to the international market heralds a changed Pakistan. Every region and the province of Pakistan will benefit from the CPEC that is a comprehensive project of peace and economic progress. Besides Pakistan and China, even Iran, Afghanistan and central Asian States will also take advantage of the project that will also make an impact on the eastern region within few years," it added.

"Besides enhancing communication network, supply, trade and cultural links, the corridor will also help promote peace, resources and harmony in the region. The government has already allocated land for Gwadar Free Trade Zone and the government has also announced concessions for Gwadar Port and Free Trade Zone in Balochistan. Moreover, the projects of Exclusive Industrial Park Processing Zone and Mineral Economic Zone are also being executed on priority basis. The development in Balochistan is not due to the CPEC only rather the present government has always kept the development of the province, including Gwadar on its priority," The News quoted the statement from the PM House, a saying.

The Pakistan daily said a project worth Rs 25 billion is being executed for the development of Gwadar city keeping in view its importance. The federal government has given a free hand to the provincial government in that regard that designed the project considering Gwadar's basic needs. The provincial government is implementing the project and the resources are being provided by the federal government.

The federal government has provided all resources for the installation of a plant to make the sea water drinkable, besides launching an additional Rs 11.5 billion project for clean drinking water to Gwadar during 2015-16. The quality of underground water is also being improved and the existing 50 bed hospital is being upgraded to 300 bed facility. A university and a technical and vocational training institute are also being set up in Gwadar to produce required manpower. The locals will be preferred for enrollment in these institutes.

Under CPEC, the government has prioritized energy and road infrastructure. To meet the electricity needs, a 300 megawatt power plant is being installed in Gwadar that will also be linked to national grid.

Special Security Force has been raised to provide a security cover to the Chinese investors. Gwadar is also being made a safe city that will boost the investors' confidence.

The construction of a new international airport is also underway in Gwadar to facilitate the movement of investors. Moreover, Gwadar city is also being connected with rest of the country through road and rail networks.

The federal government has given special attention to the construction of roads as travel to and from Gwadar is being squeezed.

The shipment of first trade cargo from Gwadar will herald new possibilities and time is not far when trade caravans will move to and from Gwadar throughout the day.

The first trade convoy carrying goods for export through the western route of the CPEC and a Chinese ship arrived at the Gwadar Port on Friday, while second trade convoy comprising over 100 containers, arrived yesterday, reports the Express Tribune.

The goods would be exported through Gwadar port to the Middle East and African countries.

The proposed CPEC is about 3,000-kilometre long and will consist of highways, railways and pipelines that will connect China's Xinjiang province to the rest of the world through the Gwadar port.

Meanwhile, the Baloch people and activists are continuously and consistently protesting against the CPEC, alleging that Pakistan is only concerned about exploiting the resources of Balochistan for Beijing and its advantage.

However, on Saturday, the Gwadar Yakjehti Council, which supports the CPEC, termed the project a game-changer for the region, especially Balochistan, as it would bring about progress and prosperity. The Dawn quoted its representatives, as saying that the elements opposing the CPEC were not well-wishers of the people of Gwadar.

The speakers also praised the role of the Pakistan Army and said the corridor could not have been completed without the support of the armed forces. They added that the council would always try to protect the rights of people of Gwadar.

Considered to be a part of China's One Belt, One Road initiative, the USD 46 billion CPEC will cover significant parts of Balochistan, Sindh and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

India has formally opposed the CPEC because it runs through disputed PoK. (ANI)