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Pak-Iran gas project must for cheap energy: Zardari

President Asif Zardari has said that the Pakistan-Iran pipeline project was necessary for affordable energy for the country and the world must understand the national interest of Pakistan. He said that the gas pipeline project was motivated to meet the country’s growing energy needs and was not against any other country.

“We have rendered innumerable sacrifices for democracy and no one can snatch it from us.” The president, while inaugurating three projects at the Governor’s House on Monday, said the two newly-completed hydel projects of Allai Khwar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Jinnah Hydro Project in the Punjab, along with the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project, should be seen as measures to overcome the power shortage in the country.

He said Pakistan needed to exploit all available resources, particularly the low-cost hydel power, besides exploring ways and means to import power and energy from its neighbouring countries.

The president said the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project was one such endeavour of the government, which would be formally launched on March 11. The inaugural ceremony was attended among others by Punjab Governor Makhdoom Syed Ahmad Mahmood, Water and Power Minister Ahmad Mukhtar, Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour, members of parliament and Punjab Assembly, Wapda chairman, members of the civil society and high-ranking officials.

Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said the president highlighted the growing needs for energy resources to accelerate the national growth. The president said Pakistan was a sovereign country and had every right to pursue projects in national interest and did not intend to offend anyone. Pakistan, he said, was an active player in contributing to world peace and stability and the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline should be viewed purely in the context of meeting its energy needs.

He hoped the critics of the project would appreciate Pakistan’s energy requirements and the need for importing gas. He expressed the confidence that by pursuing people-centric policies, Pakistan would soon overcome its energy problem.

The president said the government was fully alive to the woes of the general public, business persons and industrialists for the power and energy shortages, which it had inherited.

He said the addition of Allai Khwar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Jinnah Hydropower Project in the Punjab would help mitigate its energy shortage to some extent. He said the government had drawn up plans to not only meet the current electricity needs but also cater to the future needs and for this purpose it had undertaken more than two dozen hydropower projects all over the country.

These included mega projects like Bhasha Dam, Neelum Jhelum, Dasu and Tarbela 4th Extension Project. Moreover, Gomal Zam Dam, Satpara Dam, Dubair Khwar and Jabban Hydropower projects were nearing completion.

He said after completion, these projects would provide 21,000 MW additional electricity and store 13 million acre feet of water. This will bring down the cost of manufacturers and make Pakistani products more competitive in the global market, he said.

Inaugurating the dry port, the president said it was a bold initiative of Pakistan Railways to enter vigorously into private-public partnership. The setting up of dry ports and provision of dedicated rolling stock to the private sector to operate freight trains was a bold initiative, the president said. He complimented the Pakistan Railways for opening up to public-private partnership in vital areas, including operating passenger trains and providing track access to the private sector for freight operations.

The president said the addition of a dry port at Prem Nagar, equipped with modern facilities, would almost double the capacity of the existing facility from 4 to 7 million tons per annum. He advised the railway management to plough the profit earned back into the project to further improve and expand its existing operations to meet growing demands for new tracks and extending platforms and loading areas.

The president said the private sector, by its efficient and cost effective operations, innovative techniques and best management practices, was fully capable of producing quality and cost effective goods and services.

He said the world over the private sector was considered as an engine of growth whereas the public sector played the role of facilitator and regulator. He said in Pakistan, too, efforts were afoot that the public sector acted as facilitator and regulator and that it should venture only in areas which were dominated by concerns for public service instead of making big profits.

The president commended DP World, Premier Mercantile Services, and Pakistan Railways for achieving this landmark partnership in the setting up of dry port. He stressed the need for continuous improvement to ensure efficient and cost effective operations.

He advised that Prem Nagar Dry Port be developed as a model hub for more such ports for inland container traffic throughout the country to reduce congestion within and close to the cities. The president extended his felicitations to Railways Minister Haji Ghulam Bilour and Water and Power Minister Ahmad Mukhtar and their teams and appreciated the hardwork and dedication of Chinese and Austrian project consultants and contractors, who had rendered valuable assistance in the completion of these projects and hoped that the remaining ones would also be completed expeditiously.

According to another report, Punjab Governor Makhdoom Syed Ahmad Mahmood called one president at the Governor’s House on Monday. Former governor Latif Khosa and Manzoor Wattoo were also present. The governor briefed the president on the situation in the province.

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