ISLAMABAD: President Pervez Musharraf has said there are indications of forward movement towards resolution of long-standing Kashmir dispute and vowed that he would not let the Kashmiris down as their cause is closest to his heart. Speaking at the launch of 2.16 billion dollars Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Electric Project President Musharraf said Kashmir runs in the veins of every Pakistanis and relations between Pakistan and India could not be normalized unless the dispute is resolved.
He said the forward movement on conflict resolution slowed down in the past few months but now Pakistan is seeking political resolution of the un-resolved dispute and there are positive indications in this regard. He said Pakistan wants to settle all outstanding issues including Kashmir with India through dialogue and peacefully. He said now there is greater interaction among the Kashmiris living across the Line of Control which would help in taking the peace process further forward.
About the inauguration of the Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Electric Project President Musharraf said it has strategic importance and implications. He expressed the gratitude for the assistance, China is providing in the power project and thanked the Chinese government for its expertise. He said this project is significant and strategic and another symbol of Sino-Pak friendship. He said on completion, the project would contribute in further bolstering the socio-economic development of the country.
He said Pakistan has proposed extending oil and gas pipelines and rail network up to Chinese border which would be an eighth wonder further cementing the deep routed and all weather friendship between the two countries for their mutual benefit.
Giving details of the project the President said it would have 47 kilometer tunneling and would generate 1000 megawatt (MW), inexpensive hydro electricity. He said that the current shortage of energy in the country is due to the fast expanding industrial sector which would be bridged through a series of power projects including hydle, coal, alternative as well nuclear.
He said country has to move forward on fast track basis to generate power to sustain its economic growth. He said in 2000 there was a surplus of 4000 megawatt of electricity and even it was contemplated to export it to India. He said the industrial growth doubled and economic growth remained over seven percent, in the past seven years resulting in the shortage of electricity and gas.
Today Pakistan needs electricity and gas and we should have moved forward to keep pace with the industrial and economic growth but now all efforts would be made to generate power and explore more gas reservoirs to help meet fast expanding energy requirement of the country, he added.
He said Bhasha Dam has already been launched and other water reservoirs including Kalabagh Dam, Akori, Kurram Tangi and Gomal Zam would be constructed to generate electricity. He said Pakistan is also planning to utilize country’s enormous Thar coal reservoirs. He said China produces 70 percent of its energy through coal while Pakistan only produces one percent of its electricity through coal. He said the magnitude of the coal reservoirs in Pakistan could be gauged from the fact that their capacity to generate electricity is more than the capacity of Saudi Arabia and Iranian oil put together.
President Musharraf said the gas exploration is being speeded up to help meet shortage and new reservoirs are being discovered with production being enhanced.
The Prime Minister Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan speaking on the occasion said the Neelum-Jhelum Power Project is being materialized as a result of President Musharraff’s commitment. He expressed gratitude for China and said Chinese people have special place in the hearts and minds of the people of Kashmir.
The Chinese Ambassador said his country always attached great importance to its ties with Pakistan. He said Sino-Pak cooperation has been further bolstered under the leadership of Presidents Hu Jintao and Pervez Musharraf. He said Neelum-Jhelum is one of the biggest projects being undertaken with Chinese collaboration. He hoped that the security of the Chinese workers would be ensured at the project.
The Neelum-Jhelum Hydro Electric Project would be completed in eight years and would help generate about 1000 megawatt of electricity. The project is located in the vicinity of Muzaffarabad and envisages the diversion of Neelum River water through a tunnel out falling into Jhelum River. The Power House would be constructed at Chatter Kalas some 22 kilometers south of Muzaffarabad.-SANA