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Pakistan PM to launch $230m Gwadar airport project
KARACHI: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will lay the foundation stone at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Gwadar international airport in Balochistan on Friday.

The $230 million airport project in Gurandani, 26 km east of Gwadar city, is funded by China.

“The prime minister is scheduled to lay the foundation on Friday afternoon,” Mirza Mujtaba Baig, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, told Arab News.

Khan is also expected to visit the Gwadar free zone and harbor as well as an expo in the area.

“On the occasion of the groundbreaking (ceremony) of the new Gwadar international airport and second Gwadar expo, we will show you a different Gwadar port,” Lijian Zhao, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese Embassy, tweeted.

The airport is one of several development projects in Gwadar worth $690 million which the Chinese government is financing as part of its Belt and Road Initiative.

After completion in three years the new airport will be Pakistan’s second largest. It will hande ATR 72, Airbus A-300 and Boeing B-747 aircraft on domestic as well as international routes.

Khan is also expected to announce several development packages for Balochistan, including Gwadar.

Analysts say the airport is needed to handle the city’s future growth as it undergoes rapid development.

“As Gwadar is being developed into a major international city, an airport with modern facilities is vital,” Shahid Rind, a senior business analyst, told Arab News.

Local people said they expect the Pakistan leader to announce measures to ensure they benefited from development plans.

“Gwadar’s major issues are a shortage of water and lack of facilities for local fishermen,” Rind said.

“The demographic shift is also a matter of concern for people, especially after the city is developed and has an influx of foreigners,” he added.

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