KARACHI: The Gwadar Development Authority (GDA) director general (DG) Ahmed Bakhash Lehri said that there was no insurgency in Balochistan, just a political protest, and there was a need to talk with Balochistan’s political leaders.
Talking to Daily Times during a visit to Karachi Friday at Qasar-e-Naz, he said, “The common misperception is that the nawabs and sardars of Balochistan are against the development of the province.”
Citing examples, he said that though RCD Highway passes near Attaullah Mengal’s home, he never opposed it. Most of the sardars of the Bizinjo, Sasoli and Zehri Mengal tribes live in Khuzdar where a co-ed engineering college is located and they did not oppose it. He stated that everyone was cooperating with the development of Gwadar and that the Baloch need to be provided the opportunity to work.
The DG said that Gwadar port was a massive economic activity in the region which benefited the people of the area. Living in Gwadar will be thrice as costly as Karachi. Karachi has an agricultural economic base while surrounding areas, in contrast, do not have easy access to water. Residence is also cheaper in Karachi. He added that there was no comparison between Karachi and Gwadar.
Although there would be a massive demographic change in Gwadar, Lehri dismissed the idea that the Baloch would become a minority in their own province. He said the Baloch from all over the province were coming to Gwadar.
The DG said that the land-transfer policy in Gwadar in the case of Mir Nazar Kalmati was a misunderstanding and the Supreme Court had imposed a ban on the transfer of land. It was an individual case and not a collective matter. The Supreme Court has passed its decision in favor of the government, and land records were handed over to the government and the transfer of land process was reinitiated. A provincial committee, headed by Syed Ehsan Shah, was securing Gwadar land from land grabbers.
He admitted that there was an unrealistic hike in the Gwadar real estate market which is now dropping to a more reasonable level. Retired army officers have invested in the real estate business in Gwadar.
Lehri added that Pakistan was importing 100 MW of electricity from Iran at cheap rates and that long-term agreements with Iran were possible. The gas pipeline project would greatly benefit Gwadar, which he claimed was a haven for national and international investors and that capital investors were also flocking there.
An attack on Iran may have a bad effect on the development of Gwadar but it may also benefit the port as it would bring about movement in the region. Also, an environmental impact study was being conducted and with the help of the IUCN that has a budget of Rs 2.1 million to plant mangroves.
Source: Daily Times