QUETTA - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said that 52 countries wanted to be part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Rs25 billion had been approved for the mega plan.

The prime minister was speaking informally to media at a briefing on the progress of various development projects in Gwadar. He arrived on Wednesday on a two-day visit to Balochistan.

He was received by Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, Federal Minister for Safron Abdul Qadir Baloch and other high officials at Pasni Airport.

The PM travelled to Gwadar via Coastal Highway from Pasni Airport along with the governor and the chief minister in his vehicle.

Nawaz Sharif praised the quality of Coastal Highway and pressed for expediting the work on all other projects connecting Gwadar with rest of the areas.

“The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and progress of Gwadar Port city are key parts of my top most priorities which will benefit Pakistan particularly Balochistan,” PM was quoted as saying.

He said speculation over a reserved judgment could be detrimental to judicial decorum, in an apparent reference to the Panama Papers case in the Supreme Court.

He said currently, his entire focus was on economic progress and development of the country.

Sharif said Gwadar Port was the gateway of CPEC and it would change the destiny of the people of Balochistan.

Director General Gwadar Development Authority Dr Sajjad Hussain made a presentation regarding water supply, electricity, road connectivity, land acquisition, special economic zones, capacity enhancement and performance of Gwadar Development Authority.

Sharif said the government had focused on the development of Balochistan including infrastructure, energy, health facilities and socio-economic uplift of the people of Balochistan.

He emphasised that priority should be given to employment of local people in development projects and directed for early completion of Vocational Training Institute at Gwadar for skills’ development and employability of local youth.

He expressed satisfaction over the security provided for the projects and routes and directed to expedite work on the Western Link routes so that Gwadar could be linked to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa early. He also directed to expedite work on road links in interior Balochistan.

He said Gwadar Port expressway and International Airport along with port free zone and business complex would make Gwadar an attractive destination for investors. “Our government has provided necessary legal cover to ensure ease of business for foreign investors and many international companies are now keen to invest in Pakistan,” he added.

He was also briefed on the Gwadar City Master Plan that was being developed in cooperation with China.

Sharif approved desalination plant for water supply to Gwadar. Financing of the desalination plant would be explored through Public Private Partnership, otherwise federal and Balochistan governments will finance the project.

The premier was scheduled to chair a high-level meeting on development projects initiated by CPEC in the port city and will address the public in Gwadar on Thursday.

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electricity, road connectivity, land acquisition, special economic zones, capacity enhancement and performance of Gwadar Development Authority.

Sharif said the government had focused on the development of Balochistan including infrastructure, energy, health facilities and socio-economic uplift of the people of Balochistan.

He emphasised that priority should be given to employment of local people in development projects and directed for early completion of Vocational Training Institute at Gwadar for skills’ development and employability of local youth.

He expressed satisfaction over the security provided for the projects and routes and directed to expedite work on the Western Link routes so that Gwadar could be linked to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa early. He also directed to expedite work on road links in interior Balochistan.

He said Gwadar Port expressway and International Airport along with port free zone and business complex would make Gwadar an attractive destination for investors. “Our government has provided necessary legal cover to ensure ease of business for foreign investors and many international companies are now keen to invest in Pakistan,” he added.

He was also briefed on the Gwadar City Master Plan that was being developed in cooperation with China.

Sharif approved desalination plant for water supply to Gwadar. Financing of the desalination plant would be explored through Public Private Partnership, otherwise federal and Balochistan governments will finance the project. The premier was scheduled to chair a high-level meeting on development projects initiated by CPEC in the port city and will address the public in Gwadar on Thursday.