Pakistan’s Balochistan province is planning to gift 200 acres to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said as a token of gratitude and honour for Oman's commitment towards the development of the region and the port city of Gwadar in particular.
Speaking during a private visit to the sultanate, Muhammad Syed Faseih Iqbal, former senator and senior member of the Pakistan Press Council, said that the move would also help to boost the close historical ties between Oman and Balochistan.
“Nawab Muhammad Aslam Khan Raisani, the chief Minister of Balochistan is planning to gift 200 acres to honour His Majesty the Sultan as a goodwill gesture to the people of Oman. The topography of Gwadar is the same as Oman. Government-to-government relationship is fine but we want to revive the Balochi-Omani bond.”
Iqbal said that he personally witnessed Oman handing over Gwadar to Pakistan in 1958. “Gwadar is strategically positioned and shares a 'deep historical link' with the sultanate. The Balochistan government is also taking care of the Fort of Sultan Said Taimur.
“Balochis in Oman share a long history with their counterparts in Pakistan dating back at least 300 years. Many Balochis are permanently settled in Oman. I feel that ties can still be improved and people on both the sides can be brought closer through education, business and trade. We would like to invite the Omani government to construct a university and a hospital in Gwadar. Gwadar has none of these and this would help in bringing people closer.”
H E Nawabzada Aminullah Khan Raisani, the Pakistani Ambassador to Oman, welcomed the proposal of gifting the land and said, “His Majesty the Sultan has done a lot for people of Gwadar. The Balochistan government's initiative is a token of appreciation and I am sure the Pakistan government will welcome the move.”
His Majesty the Sultan had announced a US$100mn (RO38.5mn) grant during his 2001 visit to Pakistan. Out of this, US$64mn (RO24.64mn) was allocated for development work in Balochistan. Reports stated that US$17.5mn (RO6.73mn) was earmarked for the development of Gwadar International Airport and US$27.5mn (RO10.5mn) for Gwadar city. Iqbal said that the grant has been utilised to boost infrastructural facilities like the building of 300km Gwadar-Turbat-Hoshab road and electrification of Gwadar city.
“We believe that there was a strong link between Omanis and Balochis in the 16th and 17th centuries and would like to revive the same bond.”