GILGIT: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that the Pak China Fiber Optic project will be an important milestone for the country’s progress in his address at the ground breaking ceremony of the project on Thursday. The prime minister congratulated and appreciated the engineers and the working personnel of the project for its inauguration. He said that the means of communication and the pace of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will get a major boost from this project. PM Nawaz said that success in modern day depends on the efficient and optimum usage of the resources available and this project will provide the advancements in ICT that will not only be a direct benefit but it will also help in the better usage of the available technology and resources. He said that the project will provide an alternate telecommunication route between Pakistan and China and also bring 3G and 4G connectivity to the region. The prime minister congratulated the Special Communication Organisation (SCO) for coming up with this project and said, “I have complete faith that SCO will continue to work with same dedication and put the country on the road to progress”. He also announced the establishment of a training institute with reference to SCO. “On the government’s behalf I grant Rs100 million as the initial investment for this institution,” he added. PM Nawaz also said that this project has the potential to make Gilgit-Baltistan the most developed region of the country. He also said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will help in the development of Gilgit just like Balochistan and other areas of the country. He said that Gwadar port is being linked to the country until Kashmir and that will boost the economic activity and growth in the country. The prime minister said that the cold war did not solve any problems and in modern day the wars are being fought in the economic fields. CPEC is the way to prepare to compete in that field with the world. He said that CPEC will not only benefit the Pakistanis but its indirect benefits will reach Afghanistan and to the whole of Central Asia. He also stressed the need for preparedness for a newer knowledge-based economy. “These development projects will help reduce extremism as these will help reduce unemployment and poverty, which are the two main causes for our younger generation’s exploitation by the anti-state elements.” The fiber optic cable will be 820 kilometers in length and will be laid down between Khunjerab and Rawalpindi. The project will begin today and its total cost is estimated to be around $44 million. The project will complete in two years and will provide both countries access to alternative international media. The telecommunication system in Gilgit-Baltistan is also expected to improve by a great deal as a result of this fiber optic. The agreement in this regards was signed between both countries in 2007 and is now included as part of the bigger package of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The prime minister will be inaugurating the ground breaking ceremony of the project himself in presence of the newly elected council of the province. He also took oath from this newly elected council. The six new members who joined the 12-member Council after their oath include Syed Afzal, Sultan Ali Khan, Ashraf Sada, Syed Abbas Rizvi, Arman Shah and Wazir Ikhlaq Hussain. The prime minister also inaugurated the Gilgit-Baltistan CPEC patrolling police headquarters in Gilgit. The patrolling force will comprise 300 personnel and will help to regulate traffic along a 439km part of the CPEC in the area. China has provided 25 vehicles for the patrolling force.