ISLAMABAD- Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says, despite financial constraints, the government is providing substantial funds to the socio economic uplift and development of Baluchistan.

"The development of Baluchistan is close to my heart," said the premier, while addressing the Baluchistan Development Forum here Monday. PM added that resources have been provided to support the efforts of the provincial government in the province, despite constraints. The prime minister said that Baluchistan’s share in NFC Award has been enhanced from 5.11 to 9.9 per cent.

He said sixty one billion rupees has been allocated for the province under Public Sector Development Fund, during the current financial year which is thirty seven percent higher than the last fiscal year. Fifteen billion rupees have been earmarked in the annual development program as a special development package for Baluchistan. Nawaz Sharif said the province lagged behind in socio economic development, due to the neglect of the past.

The Prime Minister said Baluchistan is central to Pakistan becoming a regional hub for trade in goods and energy. Its strategic location makes it pivotal both for the East-West as well as for the North-South trade routes. He said Baluchistan will be the main beneficiary under the China-Pakistan economic corridor project. He said developing Gwadar port, Gwadar port city and allied infrastructure including a modern new airport there will make Gwadar a hub of not only our national but also regional trade. Establishment of free trade zones and special economic zones will underpin its prospects to become an attractive destination for foreign and domestic investment.

Nawaz Sharif said the federal government is also financing and implementing a number of projects to address gaps in infrastructure, as well as human development indicators in the province. One hundred and forty two projects in different sectors are being supported in the province through the federal development program.

He said the federal government has launched a project costing four billion rupees in collaboration with the provincial government for construction of houses for quake victims of Awaran district. A three hundred megawatt power plant is planned to be set up in Gwadar. Special provision has been made for scholarships for the students of Baluchistan under Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e Baluchistan package.

The Prime Minister said five hundred million rupees has also been released for establishment of cold storage facility at Turbat. He said Reko Diq has huge copper and gold deposits which will bring in prosperity for the people of the province. He said the federal government is determined to give full support to the provincial government to resolve the issue of Reko Dik at the earliest and to start the project in the shortest possible time.

On the issue of terrorism, Nawaz Sharif said it has taken a heavy toll of tens of thousands of human lives and caused a loss of about one hundred billion dollars to the economy. He said the government is committed to wipe out terrorism in all its shades and hues and had adopted a zero tolerance policy against the terrorists. Our operation Zarb-e-Azb and allied counter terrorism initiatives across the country will help cleanse the country particularly tribal areas, FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan from violent terrorism.

He made it clear that Pakistan will neither allow anyone to use its territory against any other country nor would tolerate, if terrorists use foreign soil for the terrorist activities in Pakistan.

In his address, Baluchistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai said the provincial government is making efforts to exploit the natural resources of the province in the short and medium term. He said the exploitation of natural resources and development of agriculture sector and fisheries will generate many new job opportunities and reduce poverty.

He said the development forum is intended to showcase the true potential of the province including its rich culture.

In his remarks, Baluchistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik invited international investors to invest in different sectors for the development of the province. He said the province can guarantee a strong and peaceful future for Pakistan and expressed the confidence the federal government will help in expediting the exploration of natural resources.