Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz Tuesday said that the Gwadar port project will change the destiny of the people in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan by improving their living standards and providing increased job opportunities.
He was talking to journalists in Gwadar after the signing of an agreement with the Port Singapore Authority for the operation and management of the Gwadar port.
"Gwadar will become an attractive destination for cargo traffic providing better facilities to large vessels," Aziz said.
The official APP news agency quoted him as saying that the port would be formally inaugurated in March this year by Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf, who has all along taken keen interest in the welfare of the people of Balochistan.
Replying to a question, Aziz said that the Port Singapore Authority would invest 550 million U.S. dollars during the next five years and no duty will be imposed on the machinery to be imported for development work in this area.
To another question, he said that the deep-sea Gwadar Port would not only enhance Pakistan's strategic importance in South West Asian region but it would usher in a new era of socio- economic development in Balochistan.
He said that a new airport and an industrial zone would also be developed at Gwadar.
"We want to operate this port in the best possible manner. We have selected the best company, which is already operating ports in 11 countries," he added.
Aziz said that the Gwadar port would be linked with the Central Asian Republics, besides its linkage with Pakistan's Coastal Highway, Indus Highway and Karachi Coastal Highway.
A railway link with the entire country was also being actively considered, he added.
Earlier, addressing the signing ceremony, Aziz said that through implementation of mega projects like the Gwadar port, the present government will embark upon a journey of increased socio- economic development in the country.
"As a result of competitive services expected to be offered at the Gwadar port, there will be investment, employment and increased economic activity," he said.
Referring to technical and financial support extended by China, Aziz said that China "has greatly helped us in translating the dream of the Gawadar port into a reality."