Published: April 11, 201
Bilawal inaugurates desert region's first airport named Mai Bakhtawar. PHOTO: INP
HYDERABAD: Defending the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto -Zardari has said Tharparkar’s development is the real answer to the criticism of the project.
“I want to carry this model [of Tharparkar’s development] to Balochistan where many CPEC projects are in progress. It will make sure that the local population is benefited like the population in Tharparkar,” he said on Wednesday in Tharparkar where he inaugurated the desert region’s first airport, named after a pre-partition peasant leader Mai Bakhtawar.
The Sindh government financed construction of the Rs2.2 billion facility with an objective to facilitate travel of the local and foreign investors engaged in coal mining and power generation projects in Thar Coal Block II.
“It isn’t China’s responsibility but only Pakistan’s to ensure that the economic benefits of these projects reach the ordinary people,” Bilawal underscored.
He said the Sindh government’s public-private partnership model had produced successful results in Tharparkar where the coal project had brought about an economic revolution.
“I can say if the greatest change has happened anywhere in Pakistan, it is in Thar,” he affirmed.
“A revolution has come to Thar but we haven’t told all Pakistanis about it,” he added.
Bilawal also appreciated the Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company, in which the provincial government has a majority shareholding.
He said the company had completed the mining and electricity generation works in a timely manner.
He said the provincial government and the company were working on the education and health projects for the local people in addition to the local handicrafts and other businesses.
“I got my lunch today from food grown through the bio-saline agriculture,” he said, sharing his excitement about the agricultural development.
He recalled that his mother, former prime minister and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, in the 1990s had envisioned Tharparkar’s development which began to materialise more than two decades later. According to him, the public-private partnership model also prominently featured in the party’s manifesto when his mother led the PPP as “the way forward for Pakistan”.
He said the PPP’s scope was not limited to making money against an investment but also to look after the local people by providing with them jobs, economic opportunities, health and education facilities and imparting skills.
The PPP’s chairman accused the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s federal government of being unjust with the provinces. He claimed that his party kept fighting and protesting with the Centre for five years, demanding implementation of the 18th constitutional amendment, the NFC award and the 1991 water accord but to no avail.
He went on to blame the Centre for deliberately avoiding to provide the required support to the provinces like helping with sovereign guarantees. Bilawal believed that the Balochistan and K-P governments also shared similar complaints against the PML-N’s federal government.
“This is the biggest problem of Nawaz Sharif’s government. He remained the prime minister of only one city and not the whole country.”
To a query, Bilawal said that among the provinces, Sindh initiated and completed a higher number of electricity generation projects. However, he regretted that the power produced in Sindh was prioritised to supply cities in Punjab.
He also complained that during the last five years, the federal government only focused on power generation while neglecting upgradation of power transmission.
When asked to comment on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan’s wish to contest the upcoming general elections from Karachi, Bilawal said his party would inflict an exemplary defeat on Khan.
“I have already invited and challenged him [Khan] to come and contest from Karachi