President General Pervez Musharraf said here on Thursday that elements trying to sabotage the country’s peaceful atmosphere and creating trouble would be crushed.

Talking to newsmen after a briefing on the under-construction Mirani Dam, the president said the government was not sitting idle. Recent acts of terrorism in Balochistan were being thoroughly investigated. The government, he added, had found some clues to the miscreants involved in the anti-state activities.

He warned that these elements, serving the interest of their masters, would be punished if they did not desist from such activities. He said despite opposition by certain quarters, new dams would be built to meet the water and power needs of the country. He announced that he would soon tour the NWFP and Sindh to mobilize public opinion in favour of dams.

The president said he would remove apprehensions the people of these provinces had on water projects and added that ministers and members of national and provincial assemblies would also play their role to create consensus on the issue.

In reply to a question about a timeframe for the construction of a new dam, he said Kalabagh Dam had already been delayed for quite a long time. “We will take a decision on new dam in near future.”

He said 33,000 acres of barren land in Turbat would be brought under cultivation after the completion of Mirani Dam by June 2006. He expressed the confidence that socio-economic condition of the people of adjoining areas would improve after the project was completed.

Gen Musharraf asked the people opposing the project to work for the welfare of the masses, instead of creating hurdles in development projects. The president was informed at the briefing that Mirani Dam costing over Rs5.8 billion was being constructed across the Dasht River, about 48km west of Turbat. Wapda chairman Tariq Hameed said that so far 52 per cent of work had been completed.

MAKRAN COASTAL HIGHWAY: President Musharraf then went to Ormara to inaugurate the Lyari-Gwadar section of the Makran Coastal Highway completed in a record period of three years at a cost of Rs10 billion.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony, he said that the completion of the highway would speed up development of Balochistan. He said the coastal and other highways leading to the Iranian and Afghan borders would help increase Pakistan’s trade and usher in an era of economic development in the region.

The 532km highway will link the under-construction Gwadar seaport to other parts of the country. Gen Musharraf said the government was spending Rs20.3 billion for the development of Balochistan under the Public Sector Development Programme.

He said this was the highest allocation for the province ever made by any government. In fact, he pointed out, it was 13.7 per cent of the total PSDP funds, even higher than Punjab’s.

He said he had made a commitment to the people of Balochistan to remove their sense of deprivation. “I took serious notice of this sense of deprivation and resolved that Balochistan will get more than its share.”

He expressed disappointment over statements of certain political leaders of the province. These politicians could not be called nationalists, because they were not serving the cause of the people, he said.

He regretted that these politicians were opposing development projects like Gwadar seaport, Makran Coastal Highway and Mirani Dam. These projects, he said, were for people’s benefit, but these elements did not want to see the progress of people for the sake of their vested interests.

Referring to the welcome accorded by the people of Ormara on his arrival, the president said the voice of these people should be louder than of those opposing their interests. He asked people not to pay heed to the ‘misguided campaign’.

He was hopeful that these projects would change the destiny of people. These projects, he emphasized, would generate job opportunities and boost agriculture, fisheries, industrialization as well as tourism in the area.

Referring to the Gwadar seaport and the Makran Coastal Highway, he said the western Chinese province could also use these facilities for international trade via the Karakoram Highway.

Gen Musharraf said he was proud to inaugurate the project as the nation was dreaming of its completion. He asked Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Yousuf to encourage industrialization, fish and shrimp farming and tourism.

In his welcome address, Communications Minister Shamim Siddiqui said the project had been completed with local expertise and most of the work was executed by the Frontier Works Organization.

He said the dual-carriage coastal highway was completed ahead of schedule while work on the extended section from Gwadar to Gabd would begin shortly to connect the Makran Coastal Highway to Iran.

Source: The Dawn