Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday hit out at the previous government led by ousted premier Imran Khan for "miserably” failing the people of Gwadar, a day after he visited the port city in Balochistan and inaugurated a six-lane expressway built under the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the slow pace of work on projects in Gwadar, the prime minister asserted that the development of Pakistan was linked with peace, stability and progress in Balochistan.
“The coalition govt aims to assist Balochistan by working with the provincial govt & local elders to chart the way forward,” Sharif said in a tweet on Saturday.
"During my visit to Gwadar, I witnessed how PTI govt miserably failed the people of Gwadar. Despite wasting billions of rupees & precious time, it could not complete any project for resolution of water & electricity issues for the locals who gave great sacrifices for Gwadar port," he said.
During his day-long trip to Balochistan on Friday, Sharif took part in the inauguration ceremony of the Eastbay Expressway and the groundbreaking of seven more development projects for Gwadar. A component of the CPEC, the six-lane Eastbay Expressway would connect the Gwadar Port with the Makran Coastal Highway, also providing a link to Karachi, The Express Tribune reported.
The prime minister also took an overview of the development projects, including the under-construction Gwadar airport which was being built under a Chinese grant and faced a delay in completion.
“A desalination plant will be installed and a hospital has been built for the people of Gwadar, while 3,200 solar panels will be distributed among the families here,” he said.
He said that due to silting, the depth of the Gwadar seaport was reducing and ordered its dredging to allow the traffic of heavy ships.
“The same holds true for Gwadar seaport & construction of Gwadar airport. No dredging was carried out at seaport & thus no large cargo ship can be anchored. Have ordered quick completion of Gwadar University, airport & installation of desalination plant for clean drinking water,” Sharif said in another tweet.
Earlier, while addressing officers during his visit to the Command and Staff College in Quetta, the premier emphasised that the country’s defence was sacred, and Pakistan’s security, sovereignty and integrity would be ensured at all costs.
Paying tribute to the achievements and sacrifices of the forces, he said, “Our successes in the wars against terrorism are unparalleled, duly acknowledged by the world.”
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan's Balochistan with China's Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of China's ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013. Originally valued at USD 46 billion, the projects were worth USD 62 billion as of 2017.
India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The BRI was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes. The BRI is seen as an attempt by China to further its influence abroad with infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments all over the world.
The initiative also led to allegations of smaller countries reeling under mounting Chinese debt, after Sri Lanka gave its Hambantota port in a debt swap to China in 2017 on a 99-year lease.
(With PTI inputs)