DURING a visit to Balochistan on Friday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his dismay over the slow pace development of Gwadar city and vowed to work on a war footing for the completion of various development projects there.
PM Shehbaz Sharif is known as a doer and for fast track completion of development projects.
One may see its manifestation in Lahore where Shehbaz Sharif during his stint as the provincial Chief Minister executed the unprecedented number of projects in record period and changed the outlook of the provincial capital.
For this he also earned the title of ‘Punjab Speed’. Given the strategic location of Gwadar and the role it can play to change the economic landscape of the country, we believe that the same kind of speed is required to be replicated in Gwadar.
Despite funding from Chinese friends, there are some important projects such as Gwadar airport which has not been completed regardless of its foundation laid back in 2017-18.
Then the city is also faced with power shortage and other infrastructural bottlenecks which are a big hurdle in exploiting the potential of this strategically located port.
The next few decades are likely to see a struggle among powers to secure routes for transportation of resources.
We have already seen a competition to control choke points, ports and connecting routes. This contest will intensify in the near future.
The Indian Ocean has already become a stage of geopolitical competition because of the abundant natural resources it holds.
Pakistan is blessed to have Gwadar as it is more suitable for capitalizing on trade opportunities with energy rich Afghanistan and the Caspian Region.
Being a gateway to the Persian Gulf at the Hormuz Strait, the port will offer various harbour services like show-casing and storage of sea resources, shipment, trans-shipment and manufacturing conveniences for regional and extra-regional key players, as well as for the UAE, Gulf States and European nations.
A modern port and supporting infrastructure will also help exploit the natural resources of Balochistan province.
Hence, efforts should be accelerated with the cooperation of China to make Gwadar Port fully functional and the busiest port of the region.
Resource constraint should not be allowed under any circumstances to hinder the development projects in the city.
We have to make full use of Gwadar port to realize the long cherished dream of sustainable development and self- reliance.