LAHORE: While holding the previous governments responsible for the crises besetting the country, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif claimed on Saturday his administration has succesfully tackled all three major challenges: terrorism, energy crisis and economic revival.
“Today, we feel blessed to have the opportunity to realise the dream of Allama Muhammad Iqbal. The government has tackled all three major challenges of terrorism, economic revival and energy crisis,” Sharif said while speaking at the inauguration of Greater Iqbal Park in Lahore.
The country’s socio-economic and security situation has improved dramatically over the past three years, he claimed. The government will keep its promise of bringing electricity, restarting the industrial wheel and ending poverty.
Criticising his political rivals, Sharif said successive governments had failed to build the basic infrastructure. They pushed the country into darkness by ignoring the ever-swelling energy needs. “People should ask the previous rulers about their negligence for which the country had to pay a heavy price,” he added.
He said access and connectivity were mandatory for socio-economic development. “In the absence of roads and motorways, it would have been impossible to connect farms with markets, labour force with the industry and the industry with ports,” he said.
Sharif said the construction of motorways had been halted after the military coup in 1999. However, the present government has once again revived all those projects that should have been completed a decade ago.
“Construction of the Lahore-Multan Motorway is under way and will be completed by 2018. Multan-Sukkur Motorway will be opened in 2019. Tendering process for Sukkur-Hyderabad Motorway has been initiated while Hyderabad-Karachi Motorway is under construction,” he said.
Similar road infrastructure was being constructed in Balochistan to change the fate of the deprived region. The people, who were feeling isolated in the past, are now trying to integrate in the system, he said.
The prime minister said the recently inaugurated 446km-long highway had reduced the travel time between Gwadar and Quetta from two days to eight hours. “Now, if you start your journey from Quetta after Fajr, you can easily have lunch in Gwadar. Earlier, it took two days to complete this journey,” he said.
Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), all four provinces and Gilgit-Baltistan would be connected with China and Central Asian States. The government has also planned to invest $6-7 billion in the rail infrastructure. It would double the speed of trains and drastically reduce the travel time. These roads, he said, were not only improving connectivity but also connecting people’s hearts.
Speaking about the Greater Iqbal project, Sharif said the site was unique in the whole subcontinent. “Here, the historic Badshahi Masjid represents the splendid past of Muslims, while Minar-e-Pakistan indicates a bright future of Pakistan. Allama Iqbal, who originally saw the dream of Pakistan, is also buried in a nearby compound of Badshahi Masjid.”
He said the Greater Iqbal Park project would attract a large number of local and international tourists and would prove to be a great landmark. He directed authorities to improve lighting as the historic park had great national significance.
Without naming the arch rival Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf, Sharif said: “There should be a sign board, telling visitors that this park is not for sit-ins and public gatherings. The park is developed to showcase the national history and Pakistan movement.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2016.