The government on Thursday decided to establish 18 border markets on the country’s international frontier with Afghanistan and Iran, three of which would be completed and activated by February next year as pilot project.
Chairing a meeting on the establishment of border markets, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that these markets would not only provide better trade opportunities to the people living in the border areas but also help check smuggling.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, prime minister’s advisers Dr Hafeez Sheikh and Razak Dawood, chief ministers Mehmood Khan of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Jam Kamal Khan on Balochistan, special assistant Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa and others.
After receiving a briefing on the proposed border markets, the prime minister approved the establishment of two border markets in Balochistan and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the pilot project, which would be completed and activated by February.
The prime minister directed all the departments concerned to complete the deployment of relevant staff in the approved corridors and border markets on a priority basis.
The meeting was informed that 12 border markets would be set up on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and another six on the Pakistan-Iran border. The meeting also decided to take more effective measures to curb cross-border smuggling.
“The establishment of these markets will provide better business and trade opportunities to the people living in the border areas, especially the youth,” Imran said, adding that these would also help regulate trade after the fencing at the borders and check smuggling.
Meanwhile, the prime minister expressed satisfaction with the efforts for the exploration and utilisation of mineral resources of Balochistan and directed that these resources should be utilised in “a very transparent and systematic manner” for the welfare of the people.
Stressing that the socio-economic development of Balochistan was one of his government’s top priorities, Imran directed the ministries concerned to provide all possible assistance to the Balochistan Exploration Company.
The participants held detailed discussion on the roadmap for exploitation of mineral resources of Balochistan. On the occasion, the Balochistan chief minister briefed the meeting on the role and scope of the Balochistan Exploration Company and the framework for the development of mineral resources.
The meeting was informed that domestic investors had shown keen interest in utilising the mineral resources of Balochistan. The prime minister welcomed the interest shown by the business community and assured that the government would provide all possible facilities to them.
Separately, Imran chaired a weekly meeting of the National Coordination Committee for Housing, Construction and Development, which was also attended by Information Minister Shibli Faraz, special assistants Zulfikar Bukhari and Dr Shahbaz Gul, Naya Pakistan Housing Authority Chairman Lt Gen (retd) Anwar Ali Haider, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Reza Baqir and others.
Speaking on the occasion, Imran stressed the need for paying special attention to the protection and enhancement of green areas in order to combat the negative effects of environmental pollution and climate change. In this regard, he directed for paying special attention to urban forestry.
During the meeting, the prime minister was briefed on the progress on the review of master plans of various cities of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Attending via a video link, the Sindh chief secretary told the meeting that master plans for 17 cities of the province were being reviewed.
He said that the work on the Karachi Master Plan 2047 would begin in December, adding that master plans for three cities had been prepared, while plans for six cities would be finalised by December and for remaining eight cities the plans would be completed by June next year.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary briefed the meeting about the progress and timelines for the rescheduling of the master plans for Peshawar, Mardan and other cities. He said that master plans for the cities of merged district were also being prepared.
The Punjab chief secretary briefed the participants about the online portal to be introduced for the convenience of investors and businessmen associated with the construction sector. The meeting was informed that online portals had been set up in Islamabad, K-P and Sindh.
Expressing satisfaction with the efforts to facilitate those involved in the construction sector, the prime minister directed that such an online system should be introduced in the provinces, which was easy to use and provided all possible facilities to the users.
He directed the chief secretaries to pay special attention to the introduction of digitisation of land transfer and other issues in order to eradicating Patwari and corruption culture. He directed strict action against those causing unnecessary problems for the people.
In view of the unplanned growth in the population of Karachi, the prime minister directed that special attention be paid to formulate the master plan for the city in the shortest possible time. He reiterated that the government was committed to address every issue facing the business community.
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