Balochistan to form 3 new industrial zones
* Free land for foreign investors in new industrial zones
* Investment minister says Gwadar could become regional economic hub
By Azizullah Khan
QUETTA Three new industrial zones will be set up in Gawadar, Pasni and Ormara where foreign investors will be given an acre of free land to establish industries, Balochistan Governor Owais Ahmad Ghani said at the concluding session of the International Investment Conference in Quetta on Saturday.
The federal government will be asked to issue a notification declaring Gwadar a free trade zone, Mr Ghani said.
Federal Investment Minister Abdul Hafiz Sheikh, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Muhammad Yousaf and other federal and provincial officials promised more facilities, services and infrastructure for investors in Balochistan.
Balochistan has the potential to become a future hub of economic activities in the region, Mr Sheikh said in his speech. He said a wide range of opportunities exist in the oil and gas sector, minerals, tourism, agriculture, water supply, communication and telecommunication. The government is spending a lot of money on infrastructure, he said.
Mr Sheikh said the government was building a new Pakistan. Four years ago the country was about to collapse, but now exports had reached $11 billion, the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) index was at a all time high, foreign exchange reserves were enough to cover a year’s worth of imports and industrial production was expected to go up by 15 percent this year, he said.
Mr Yousaf said there was adequate security for foreign investors and “one odd incident” should not be taken seriously. A car bomb killed three Chinese engineers in Gwadar on Monday.
Mr Yousaf said the Balochistan government was using all its resources to cope with the situation and tighten security. He praised the commitment of the Chinese authorities after the Gwadar blast. Balochistan’s nationalist parties have reservations about the development of Gwadar, saying the changes will make local residents a minority and separate the port city from the rest of the province.
Education Minister Zubaida Jalal, who is from Balochistan, said the nationalists were hindering development and jumping on bandwagons to survive. She said they wanted to “force the nation into darkness and backwardness”. She said they had not spent any of the money they received in royalties on energy resources on the welfare of their people.
Delegates from 45 countries including Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore attended the conference.