Balochistan war
Women demonstrate against what they say were the killing of political activists in Balochistan REUTERS/Athar Hussain

Pakistan will soon become Asia's economic tiger with the troubled Balochistan an engine of growth, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told a political rally in Balochistan pledging a series of reforms in the restive region.

Underlining the importance of improving the infrastructure of Balochistan, Sharif said the region needs better road connectivity.

"A web of roads is being built, and Gwadar is being connected to the rest of the country. When roads are made, success follows; schools are built, colleges are built, hospitals are built," said Sharif. "Industries are established when roads are built and progress and prosperity flourish."

He added the government has plans to connect Gwadar, a port city located on the southwestern coast of Balochistan, and China via road.

"Once hit by terrorism, this province is now witnessing development to change the fate of the country and itself. Pakistan will soon become an Asian tiger while Balochistan will prove to be the country's economic tiger soon," Sharif said.

Heaping scorn on the previous governments and his political opponents, whom he accused of sidelining Gwadar and Balochistan, Sharif repeatedly emphasised that developing the city would be a game changer for Pakistan. With the help of Chinese investors, he said several projects including a massive health facility, desalination plants and university are being planned.

A group of about 50 young people would be sent to China to learn Mandarin as part of the efforts to strengthen cooperation between the two countries, said Sharif.

Balochistan, an arid desert and mountainous region, has been witnessing increasing levels of insurgency in the recent past. Baloch nationalists are spearheading the campaign demanding more benefits. Both the local and federal administrations accuse India of fuelling the insurgency.