600 acres of Gwadar land given in Chinese control for free port zone

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GWADAR: Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Prof. Ahsan Iqbal in a group photo during the signing ceremony to hand over first 600 acres of land for Gawadar Free Zone to China, at local hotel. INP PHOTO

Ahsan Iqbal says CPEC to be fate changer for billions of people

Pakistan handed over 600 acres of land to China for Gawadar Port Free Zone project under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement on Wednesday.

A ceremony was held to hand over the land in Gawadar.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal said during the ceremony that handing over of first 600 acres of land for Gwadar Port Free Zone was a major milestone towards implementation of CPEC.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Vice Chairman Wang Xiaotao also attended the ceremony.

Iqbal said on the occasion that CPEC would change the fate of billions of people in the region through regional integration and connectivity.

The minister said that the Gawadar Port is being developed according to the vision of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to make it a leading smart port city in the region.

“Gawadar is heart of CPEC but today with the handing over of Gawadar Port Free Zone, this heart starts beating,” Iqbal said at the signing ceremony.

Iqbal said that CPEC is not just about infrastructure projects rather it is a framework for holistic development and has equal emphasis on social sectors for well being of the people not only in Gwadar but across the country particularly in under developed areas of Balochistan.

Iqbal said that opening of new schools, vocational institutes and scholarships for students of Gwadar are steps in this direction.

He said that free trade zones would bring investment and create enormous employment opportunities in the port city.

“Smart port city will be center of trade and commerce providing connectivity to the Central Asia and the whole region,” he said.

The minister said that transformational impact from “Gawadar to Zhob” and Gawadar to khuzdar, (Khuzdar to Ratto Dero) part of western route was transforming lives in the under developed areas with the creation of employment opportunities and was improving quality of life of the citizens.

Iqbal said that Pakistan was emerging as a favorite destination for investment due to improving security and governance situation in the country and economic reforms implemented by the government during the last two and a half years.

CPEC is multi sectoral project that includes energy, infrastructure, port, social, and industry projects, Iqbal said.

He said that Gwadar would be connected to Khunjrab through multiple routes as the port would serve different markets and destinations.

He said that all the CPEC routes are being constructed but the western route will be the first to be operational.

He said that work on Gwadar-Quetta link of western route would be completed by December 2016.

Located at the crossroads of West, Central and South Asia, the Middle East and China, Pakistan can become an energy and trade corridor that connects the fast-emerging economies in the region, the minister said.

This will be achieved through CPEC by building transnational roads, railways and oil and gas pipelines that crisscross Pakistan’s industrial heartland and egress from ports like Karachi and Gwadar, he said.