THE emergence of six new land-locked Central Asian nations after the break up of the former Soviet Union has opened up a potentially lucrative new industry in Pakistan. As a neighbouring country on the coast of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea, Pakistan now realises it can capitalise on its ports. The harbours and port facilities need to be developed to take advantage of Central Asia's geo-political changes and foreign investors are being invited to participate. The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) is privatising existing operations and offering several new development projects to the private sector. An investment of US$25 million to US$30 million is required for a build-own-operate project for a 25-megawatt power generation plant along with a water desalinating facility. KPT also invites investors for a deep-water, single-buoy mooring for very large crude carriers of 20,000 tonnes. The berth will be connected by a submerged pipeline to oil tank facilities on the shore. It is intended to double the port's capacity for oil cargo from 16 million tonnes to 32 million tonnes a year. There are also plans to build a floating jetty for smaller tankers to handle molasses, as well as a proposal to establish facilities for water sports, a marina and an underwater museum. KPT intends to hand over to the private sector, either on ownership or contract basis, its existing workshop and dry-dock complex. Expansion of Port Qasim, Pakistan's second deep-water port, is also underway. Besides seven multi-purpose berths, an oil terminal and a container terminal are being developed by the private sector. New projects envisaged for Port Qasim, and open to private investment, include the construction of a fully-mechanised grain terminal with a capacity to handle three million tonnes a year, as well as a modern terminal capable of handling 1.5 to two million tonnes of fertiliser. The government plans to develop a deep-water port and fishing harbour at Keti Bunder, 150 kilometres from Karachi. Another project of huge potential is the $500 million development of a deep-sea port at Gwadar, an ancient town on the Arabian Sea. To be designed, built and operated by the private sector, Gwadar was seen as a key element in Pakistan's voyage into the 21st century, said shipping analyst S. Azam Ali. 'This project could be the harbinger for change, not only for Pakistan with particular reference to Balochistan, but also for the seven land-locked ECO countries of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirghistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan,' he said. Mr Ali said those nations had a total population of 77 million living in an area covering five million square kilometres with a gross national product of $170 billion. Deep-sea port facilities would be crucial when their international import and export trade developed. Gwadar means the 'Gate of Winds' and its location close to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, with access to the Gulf States, Middle East and Africa to the west, and India to the south, is unparalleled. Two years ago, a mini-harbour built by the British constructors, Gifford and Partners, was opened with aid from Belgium to provide berthing for up to three tankers and 500 fishing boats. Private sector involvement is now being invited for the Gwadar project. One consortium of seven companies has expressed interest in a $85-million share in the investment. 'The port is a sound base for all-embracing development along the Makran Coast, which occupies 85 per cent of Pakistan's 650-kilometre coast line,' Mr Ali said. Studies have shown that the coastline could accommodate at least six new ports - at Gaddani, Hingol, Jiwani, Ormara, Gwadar and Pasni. A new airport is being built at Gwadar and the government is also boosting supplies of power.