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Govt accused of not taking allies into confidence on uplift schemes

ISLAMABAD: Leaders of some Balochistan-based political parties on Monday threatened to hold a protest during the expected visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Gwadar next month.

Independent MNA Moha­m­mad Aslam Bhootani from Gwadar and leader of the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) Agha Hassan Baloch from Quetta criticised the federal government for “not taking elected representatives into confidence” regarding deve­l­opment activities being carried out in Balochistan, particularly in Gwadar.

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“We will tell the Saudi prince that Balochistan is not for sale and that elected representatives of the port city have not been taken on board regarding the development activities,” Mr Bhootani, who sits on the treasury bench, said while speaking in the National Assembly.

“We will not allow any investment in Gwadar if we are bypassed,” he added.

According to media reports, the Saudi prince is expected to visit next month and would lay the foundation stone of a Saudi oil refinery in Gwadar.

Mr Bhootani said that elected MNAs and MPAs would also meet the Saudi ambassador in Pakistan and apprise him about their concerns.

He said earlier projects worth $62 billion were announced for Gwadar but the local representatives did not know where that money had been spent.

“Now we hear that Saudi Arabia is setting up an oil refinery in Gwadar but again the people of the port city have not been taken into confidence,” he regretted.

Mr Bhootani said not only him but elected representatives of the BNP-M were also not consulted regarding development projects in Balochistan.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser urged the MNA not to make a hue and cry as investment in Gwadar was a “sensitive” matter.

Agha Hassan Baloch of the BNP-M said that although his party was an ally of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government in the centre, it was also kept in the dark regarding development activities in Baloch­istan and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

“We are not against development activities in Balochistan, but the people of the province are disapp­ointed over being ignored,” he said.

“We did not get anything from the CPEC and now we are being bypassed again,” the BNP-M leader added

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