ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government yesterday announced Rs 600 billion development package for nine districts of Southern Balochistan as part of its efforts to improve living conditions of the local people of poverty-hit province.  

The government would spend the allocated funds for the uplift of nine districts of the province during next three years to improve living standard of local people, said Asad Umar, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives. Out of the total funds, the federal government will provide Rs 540 billion from its resources, while the rest would be spent by the Balochistan’s provincial government, he also said.  

Addressing a joint press conference at the Ministry of Planning along with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz, Minister for Communication Murad Saeed and Minister for Defense Production Zubaida Jalal, the planning minister said that this package was prepared under special direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan who believed in raising the weak segments of society.  

He called the package as the “historic one” and said, “It has been prepared with an integrated strategy to ensure that people belonging to all segments of society should get benefit from it.”   He added that the government would also engage the private sector in some development projects in the area.  

“This most underprivileged area of the country would see prosperity and become practical example of PM Imran Khan’s vision of Naya Pakistan after completion of the project,” he said. He added that the package would improve law and order situation in the area as well.  

He also said that all sectors and ministries would be engaged through the new integrated system to complete the project within given time.  

Giving an example, he said in Southern Balochistan, agriculture was the most important source of livelihoods for locals for which, the people need water, and for this purpose, dams would have to be built. Then they would need resources and markets to sell their products in big cities. “So, the government would establish industries in those areas to make them able to preserve and add value to their products.”  

The minister said at present, only 12 percent people of the area were enjoying facility of electricity. “Under this package we will provide electricity to over 57 percent population of the area and for this purpose, solar power option will also be used to provide electricity to the scattered population of the area," he added. He also said that the area was suitable for olive and date farming and the government would establish an olive processing unit and three date processing units to make the local farmers able to add value to their produce.  

Asad said that the government would build 16 new dams in the area which will irrigate about 150,000 acres of land. Besides this, he said around 640,000 children would be given distant education by connecting them with teachers in big cities.  

Under the Waseela-e-Taleem Prgramme, as many as 83,000 children would be given free education and the government would also pay stipend of Rs 1500 each to boy and Rs 2000 each to girl’s parents on monthly basis.  

The planning minister maintained that in health sector, 200 health centres would be upgraded in the area. Similarly, he said, 35000 young people of the area would be given training to earn as a freelancer.  

Under a health programme, the minister said that pregnant ladies, and newborn babies would be provided with required food so that the problem of stunting could be prevented.  

Similarly, under this programme, billions of rupees would also be spent on road projects to connect the area with rest of the country, he added.  

Replying to a question, Asad Umar said first the government had announced package for erstwhile FATA, then for Karachi and now it had announced the package for South Balochistan. “After this, we will look at Northern Balochistan, Interior Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan so that PM Imran Khan’s vision of providing equal opportunities to all segments of societies and areas in the country can be fulfilled,” he asserted.  

He also said the federal government will fully support Balochistan Exploration Company to explore minerals in the province.  

Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal said mega projects in 9 districts of Baluchistan will enable the province to become part of national development mainstream.  

Minister for Information Senator Shibli Faraz said that this government had given top priority to all backward and underdeveloped areas, including Balochistan.  

Communication Minister Murad Saeed said that several roads and highways with length of 3,083 kilometers will be constructed in the country including projects on west route under China Pakistan Economic Corridor. He said that their government was focused on development of the country by equally investing in health, education, communication and other areas contrary to the past rulers whose only focus was development of road infrastructure.