KP govt to approach army chief to get possession of Balahisar Fort

Source: Published in Current Affairs on Thursday, February 04, 2016

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan has said that provincial government will get possession of Balahisar Fort from Frontier Corps (FC) to turn it into a tourists’ attraction centre.

“I along with Chief Minister Pervez Khattak will meet Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and will ask him to hand over possession of Balahisar Fort,” he said while talking to media after ground breaking ceremony of a zoo at Pakistan Forest Institute here on Wednesday.

He said that before meeting Gen Raheel feasibility study of the fort would be conducted to appraise its value. He said that the study would determine whether the fort could bring tourism to the province. Presently the fort houses headquarters of FC and intelligence apparatus.

Imran says the place will be turned into a centre of attraction for tourists

The federal government owns Balahisar Fort, but Imran Khan said that he would talk to Gen Raheel instead of prime minister or interior minister to solve that lingering issue between the provincial government and the paramilitary force.

The government had provided land to the paramilitary force to shift its headquarters from Balahisar to Hayatabad Township when the latter agreed to vacate the fort. Infrastructure has been constructed on the alternative site, despite that the force has refused to vacate the fort.

Mr Khan said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had severely suffered owing to militancy and families went from Peshawar to Islamabad for recreation and entertainment. He said that violence had forced families to shift to Islamabad and Lahore permanently.

“The government is trying to create safe environment to bring these families back to Peshawar and show that change has come to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said, adding that state of the art cinemas, parks and playgrounds would be constructed in Peshawar.

Mr Khan pledged that old glory of Peshawar would be restored by preserving its heritage and hotels and restaurants would be opened to attract tourism. The provincial government would follow Lahore model to improve and preserve old infrastructure of Peshawar.

When asked about the standoff between the federal government and employees of Pakistan International Airlines, the PTI chairman came down heavily on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and termed him “creation of martial law.”

“The problem is that Nawaz Sharif does not understand democracy and he always believes in use of force,” he said. Instead of removing apprehensions of employees the government used force against them, he said.

Mr Khan said that police were used against workers of Pakistan Awami Tehreek at Model Town Lahore and PTI workers in Islamabad. He vowed that he would lead protest rally in Islamabad or Karachi on February 6 to show solidarity with employees of PIA. He said that workers of PTI would take out rallies in the district headquarters across the country.

He dispelled the impression that provincial government was privatising Lady Reading Hospital, the largest health facility in the province. He said that government was planning to upgrade the existing system of LRH to make it a hospital of international standard. He said that the provincial government held talks with the doctors of LRH for one year and went to the high court, but never used force against its employees.

Earlier, Chief Minister Pervez Khattak accompanied by Imran Khan performed the ground breaking ceremony of zoo at PFI. On this occasion, he ordered completion of the zoo project within eight months to provide recreational facilities to the people. He said that government would ensure provision of financial resources for the efficient implementation of the project.

Nazar Hussain Shah, secretary environment while highlighting details of the project said that the zoo would be stretching over an area of 29 acres. He said that the area was much bigger than that of the zoos existing at Lahore and Islamabad. He said that that first phase of the project would cost Rs129 million and 59 species of birds and animals would be kept in the zoo.

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