ISLAMABAD: Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, received the Minister of Development and Planning of Pakistan Ahsan Iqbal at the Iranian Embassy in Islamabad. The meeting was also attended by Mohammad Sorkhabi, Deputy Ambassador of Iran, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Deputy Minister of Development and Planning of Pakistan, Head of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and some officials of the Pakistan Ministry of Energy and Maritime Affairs.
The two sides reviewed the latest developments related to Iran-Pakistan bilateral relations, economic cooperation, especially in the field of energy, and regional development plans, including CPEC.
Ahsan Iqbal expressed gratitude to the Islamic Republic of Iran for its cooperation in the energy sector, especially in the export of electricity to regions of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, and stressed the commitment of the Islamabad government to further increase and deepen cooperation between the two neighbouring countries. He said in the meeting: “We are trying to provide electricity to Balochistan province, including Makran coast, with the help of neighbouring and brother country of Iran.”
Meanwhile, Ahsan Iqbal Tuesday said that the CDWP approved the power project of Rs900 billion Diamer Bhasha Dam project. He said the PMLN government had started work on this project and spent Rs120 billion for acquiring land for the project. However, he regretted that the previous government delayed the project due to which the cost of the project increased from original Rs480 billion to Rs705 billion. He said the previous government did not revise the project cost and did not give any financial plan for the additional cost of around Rs225 billion.
He said that the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) has approved Rs250 billion Chashma Right Bank Canal (lift cum gravity), and referred to recommendation to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) for further approval.
Addressing a press conference, the minister said, the project that was lingering on for 30 years would help irrigate 275,000 acres of lands in the southern Districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Out of the total cost, the federal government would spend 65% while the rest 35% funds would be spent by the provincial government. “This project had a longstanding issue and the current government took this project on priority and approved it and included in the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2022-23,” he added. Iqbal said the federal government would try to complete the project as early as possible to bring revolution in the agriculture sector of the KP province.
To a question, the minister said the coalition government had started talks with the Chinese side to start the longstanding ML-1 railway project under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said both sides have agreed to start the project.
He hoped that work on the project would start within a year. In the last four years, the previous government did not work on the project, therefore, the cost of project had been increased. So now, he said the Chinese contractors are asking for cost revision, therefore, both Pakistan railways’ authorities and the Chinese contractors were engaged in reviewing the terms of financing.
He stated that the CDWP had also approved the University of Gwadar. He said he had also directed the concerned authorities to complete the 29-kilometer power transmission line on the Pakistan side within three to four months.
The minister said that the Civil Aviation Authority had also been given the task to complete construction of the New Gwadar International Airport by March 2023. Further, he said the water desalination plant in Gwadar would be completed by October this year.