|Just recently, the Gwadar Port Managing Director Dostain Khan Jamaldini said that the deep-sea port will commence operation formally from this month. Our correspondent made an exclusive interview to renowned expert on Balochistan Mir Sherbaz Khetran, on the development prospect of Gwadar and its leverage effect to regional economic development.Q: How do you see the prospect of Gwadar port becoming a shipping center in the future?A:I would love to see Gwadar as the game changer along the whole Arabian Sea coast and throughout Balochistan. Gwadar is hugely important for promoting economic transition in both China and Pakistan, and for bringing connectivity between Central and South Asia. Geographically speaking, Gwadar is more favourably placed than Chahbahar in Iran and Dubai in UAE, and that is why these two countries are feeling the competitive pressure with Gwadar port increasingly ready for operation.
Q:How do you think Gwadar port can bring about positive spillover effect, boosting economic and social development in Balochistan?
A:People in Balochistan will be the major beneficent from development of Gwadar port. Judged from current plan from decision makers, development of Gwadar port will bring a tremendous change to local areas, including making available 2 million employment opportunities in the coming 8 to 10 years. According to predictions made by the Gwadar Development Authority, the next 3 decades will see an influx of a total of 1.7 million economic migrants into Gwadar. At the same time, newly built residence areas, hotels, schools, hospitals and roads will be one silhouette of the modernization of Gwadar. For a province that has been for long underdeveloped both economically and socially, the development of Gwadar will bring a huge opportunity.
Q: What are the general expectations of local people towards China’s big move in helping Pakistan develop the Gwadar Port and do you think the port development work holds a big promise of satisfying their expectations?
A:Local Baloch people welcome and appreciate all the work China has done for commercialization of the Gwadar port, because they know that China is a brotherly country. They also have very realistic expectation from the development of the Gwadar port, which in addition to injecting new momentum to local economic development, includes provision of public goods such as construction of medical service centers, premier schools, running water and vocational skill training centers. In addition, because Balochisitan is lagging behind in development, local people expect the construction of CPEC in general and Gwadar port in particular to benefit some remote parts of the province, to help Pakistan overcome the big problem of development imbalance.
Q:Do you believe the development of Gwadar port will make it a shining example of “Prosperity for Peace”?
A:Absolutely yes. I have all the confidence to believe that the construction of Gwadar will bring a big prosperity to local economy, and the big employment opportunity available to local youth will eradicate the soil of social instability, enabling Balochistan to chase up other provinces in economic and social development, as well as better interact with those other provinces. From my perspective, the competitive edge of Balochistan is huge and Gwadar port is the very enabler for this province to shift to the high speed gear for development.
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ISS or of the Government of Pakistan.