United Arab Emirates Assures to Continue Support Pakistan

By: Arif Qoreshi

Islamabad: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has assured once again that they have supported Pakistan in past and they will not leave Pakistan at the time of need in future. This was stated by  UAE Project to Assist Pakistan Director Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghalfi at the inauguration ceremony of a Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Bridge at Barikot,swat  on Friday.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Barrikot, Swat, Friday to inaugurate Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Bridge.

The 40 years old bridge was swept away by flash floods two years ago and the whole population of the area was facing innumerous difficulties since then. United Arab Emirates (UAE) had then committed to fund the project, like many other development schemes being carried with its assistance across the country. A simple inauguration ceremony was organized at the scenic venue where the army chief cut the ribbon to open the bridge.

The UAE government sponsored the construction of the vital bridge that has been completed at the cost of US$12.6 million in a record period of time.

The bridge which connects 15 towns and 45 villages, was completely washed away during the 2010 floods. The foundation stone of the project was laid in December 2010. It would accommodate more than 5,000 vehicles a day and will serve 70,000 people in the province. The Sheikh Khalifa Bridge would link a large number of cities and villages on the two banks of Swat River.

The ceremony was attended, among others, by Pakistan Works Organisation (PWO) Director Maj Gen Javed Mahmood Bukhari, UAE Ambassador to Islamabad Essa Abdullah al Basha al Noaimi, Pakistan Assistance Programme Director Abdullah Khalifa al Ghafli and senior officials of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The bridge was jointly built by a team of engineers from the UAE, Khalifa Charity Foundation, Engineer Division of Pakistan Army and the National Engineering Services Pakistan. The bridge is 330 metres long, 10 metres wide and six metres high, and can be described as one of the most visible landmarks of the UAE in the north-west region.

Director Pakistan Assistance Programme Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli said in his remarks that the bridge was built using the internationally recognised architectural and technical standards and specifications for ensuring quality of work. All metal components of bridge were manufactured in the UK, he added. A special anti-erosion, anti-rust and humidity-resistant concrete was used to build the anti-earthquake structure, which is also resistant to floods.

COAS thanked the Ambassador for the generous assistance of UAE and efforts to cement the abiding friendship between the people of the two countries. He also appreciated the efforts of the rank and file of FWO, for providing speedy and quality construction work in far flung areas, often amidst dangerous working conditions.

The people of Pakistan in general and inhabitants of Swat in particular, were thankful to the president of the UAE Sheikh Khalifa bin Al-Nahayan and the government of the UAE for quick response to the needs of the calamity-hit people. He said that it was decided to build two strategically located bridges in Swat immediately after the devastating flashfloods and the Khalifa Bridge was one of the two.


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