QUETTA -  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has appealed to Baloch militants to lay down arms and play a constructive role for the prosperity of the country, during his visit to quake-ravaged Awaran district of the restive province on Friday.

Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, along with provincial minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bezinjo and other officials and tribal elders, welcomed the Primer who was accompanied by Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources Jam Kamal Khan.

Addressing to the local tribal notables, PM Nawaz Sharif expressed solidarity with earthquake affectees and expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives. He said that relief and rehabilitation work was continuing in the area in which provincial government and Pak Army’s services were praise-worthy.

Without mentioning any name, Prime Minister Nawaz appealed to Baloch resistance fighters to lay down arms. He said all those elements that have been misled they should come back to the national mainstream. “They are our brothers, companions and they are like our children. The way they have adopted should be quitted because nothing can be gained from fighting, this government is sympathetic toward them,” he said.

The PM said that this is the time for spreading brotherhood and “we all should ponder how to steer the country out of the difficulties, how to get rid of terrorism, and how we could strengthen the economy of the country”. “We should think how to create opportunities of employment, therefore, I appeal to those who have take up arms that they should come and become part of national mainstream so that the wounds of Balochistan could be healed,” he added.

Extraordinary security measures were taken during the visit of prime minister in Awaran, which has been plagued by the insurgency for the last several years. During the visit, PM took aerial view of the earthquake affected areas of Awaran.

Later, Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Nasir Janjua briefed him about the damages caused by earthquake and rehabilitation process. Awaran and Kech districts of Balochistan were severely hit by 7.8 magnitude of earthquake on Sept 24 that according to unofficial reports killed more than 500 people and rendered 40,000 families homeless.

Nawaz said that government was making every effort to reconstruct the houses destroyed in the devastating natural calamity. “We want to steer this district out of backwardness and make it a developed area,” PM said. He said the government had decided to construct a new city in Awaran which in terms of facilities should not be less then Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

The prime minister said to provide electricity to Awaran district, solar energy projects would be initiated. “We will leave no stone unturned in providing basic facilities to the people.” He said he had asked the chief minister to gather details and wherever roads were needed the federal government would construct those.

Referring to opposing international aid to earthquake affectees of Balochistan, Nawaz said that “we are capable enough” to help our brothers in a better way. He said that Balochistan government and Pak Army were busy in relief and rehabilitation of earthquake affected people and they would not sit calm till the rehabilitation of all the affectees. He said that besides Awaran district, solar energy would be provided to Mashkay, Jaho and other areas.

The prime minister also announced installation of a gas plant in Awaran and said all these plans were part of a special package for Awaran district. Nawaz also announced Rs0.5 million for heirs of each deceased and Rs150,000 for each injured of the earthquake. On the occasion, Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch thanked Nawaz Sharif and reiterated that provincial government would continue rehabilitation of affectees. He said they all have to play their role in this difficult time.