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NGIAP becoming a reality

IN a landmark development, Prime Minister Imran Khan, on Friday, laid foundations of the much-awaited New Gwadar International Airport (NGIAP) that will help realize the objective of making Gwadar deep seaport operational in real sense of the word. The Project is part of overall infrastructure development of Balochistan. It will be developed as a green-field airport with all modern facilities for safe operation and would be able to accommodate large aircraft such as A380. A modern terminal building will be part of the project with cargo terminal having initial handling capacity of 30,000 tons per year.
Construction of this airport was included among early harvest projects of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) back in 2014 but unfortunately actual work on its construction could not begin during the last five years because of various reasons. This is despite the fact that the Chinese Government transformed $220 million loan for the purpose as a grant and availability of funding should have led to removal of all other hurdles in the way of its implementation because of its significance for overall connectivity of Gwadar. It is regrettable that while India is investing heavily and moving speedily to realize the full potential of Iran’s Chabahar port, which is considered to be rival of Gwadar, we are moving at snail’s pace to make the port fully operational. India is keener INworking on Chabahar as it considers Gwadar port as part of Strings of Pearl strategy aimed to encircle India. New Delhi also wants to reduce Chinese influence in the region is attempting to reduce economic importance of Gwadar. The port has the potential to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development not just that of Gwadar and Balochistan but the entire country. Experts point out that it will provide strategic leverage to Pakistan vis-à-vis India, as the port is far from Indian reach as compared to other two Pakistani ports. Gwadar will increase job opportunities for Pakistani people and help in economic development through transit trade fee and foreign exchange reserves. Gwadar will boost up cooperation of Pakistan with other countries in oil and energy sector. Tourism, trade, hotel industry and state revenue will increase which will strengthen country’s economy. These enormous advantages should have created a sense of urgency among our leadership to develop the port fully but regrettably it could not be done because of lack of connectivity, under developed infrastructure, associated facilities and security concerns. Anyhow, it is hoped that besides timely completion of airport, other connectivity and infrastructure would also be developed on fast track and on modern lines to meet requirements of modern era and cater for needs for decades.