ISLAMABAD (APP) - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide an assistance of $35 million for exploring energy potential of Gilgit-Baltistan. "I am pleased to note the ADB has a planned assistance of $35 million for development of two mini hydropower projects included in its 2011 assistance pipeline for Pakistan," the bank's country director, Pakistan Resident Mission Rune Stroem said while addressing at a launching ceremony of economic report on GB on Thursday. He said these energy-oriented initiatives included 26 MW Shigar thang project and 4 MW project of Chilas. He said the ADB was the largest development partner of the government of Pakistan as reflective in the Partnership Strategy-2009-13 to provide assistance in different areas including infrastructure, water and transport besides other sectors. Stressing collective efforts for GB's uplift, the dignitary said," Gilgit-Baltistan is important not just to elevate living standards and create economic opportunities for its local people. It is equally critical in furthering Pakistan's own economic prospects and ensuring water and energy security for the country." Highlighting the region's economic potential, the country director said the Gilgit-Baltistan had important location which was the gateway to Pakistan's regional cooperation and trade route with China and eventually with the Central Asian countries. He underlined the need for working out a policy taking all stakeholders on board to ensure more investments for the GB as it could transform into an attractive transit hub, catalyzing greater regional trade cooperation and economic integration. He also appreciated the government for its measures for utilizing the GB natural resources. He said the major water storage and hydel generation projects of Bhasha and Bunji Dams demonstrated and recognized potential of power generation of the areas, which would go a long way in tide over the country's power crisis. He said Pakistan's economic and energy security in this way was interconnected with developing GB's natural resource base, protecting its ecology and environment, upgrading its infrastructure base, raising the level and quality of its human resources, and creating livelihood and employment opportunities for its people. The GB report, while recognizing the recent transformation in the GB area, highlights several challenges, which are hampering its economic growth,obstructing its social development as well as affecting the employment generation.