HYDERABAD: Using the political slogan of his arch-rival and PTI chief Imran Khan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said his government’s focus on expansion of the network of motorways across the country has realised the dream of a developed and prosperous ‘Naya Pakistan’.
“Today, the people are witnessing the emergence of a Naya Pakistan with improved infrastructure and communication network, and we have given reality to this dream,” Prime Minister Nawaz said on Friday in his address at the inauguration of 75km-long section of Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway (M-9).
Without naming Imran, the PM continued to hit out at his political nemesis who has continually been posing challenges to his government during its three and a half year rule, and said his government was completely focused on its agenda of development and paid no heed to negative politicking.
“Building the nation is not a child’s play and requires utmost dedication and hard work, which we are doing,” he said, adding that: “The people of Pakistan can well distinguish the dedicated and selfless leaders from those who have wasted time of the nation by impeding development through protests.”
He said economy of a country depended a lot on comprehensive road network. However, he said, those who traveled through chartered aircraft were most critical of construction of motorways and roads.
“Some people ask what’s the need of building the motorways. Yes, the people travelling in chartered planes may not feel a need for these roads,” Nawaz said in a thinly veiled reference to Imran. “But the people who come from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to work in Karachi understand what’s the need,” he said.
The PM threw down the gauntlet to his political opponent to compete with his government in the realm of development. “We don’t have time for sit-in protests. They may keep on with the sit-in, we will continue the development works,” he said.
Nawaz said he was grateful to the Almighty as the country had embarked upon a new journey towards progress and prosperity. He said the country will have a six-lane motorway from Karachi to Peshawar by 2019, boosting the national economy and generating millions of new jobs.
He said over 60 per cent work on the project was completed, while work was going on the remaining sections, including the service roads, interchanges and other infrastructure.
Nawaz said in 2013 the country was in dire straits, with infrastructure in shambles and a deteriorated economy. He said it was vital to turn around the economy to provide new employment opportunities to the youth, who are at the risk of being used by extremist elements.
“But now, international financial organisations have spoken in unison about Pakistan’s remarkable turnaround, and the Karachi Stock Exchange has amazed the world,” he added.
The prime minister said thousands were today getting jobs on projects related to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), while their number would multiply once the project completes.
The PM appreciated the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) chief Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal, and the National Highway Authority (NHA) chief Shahid Ashraf Tarar for their hard work and completion of the assigned tasks earlier than the stipulated time.
He said he had an aerial view of the completed section and said it was at par with any international road. He said plantation was done on both sides of the newly completed section of the road, while new rest areas were being setup to ease the travel of the people.
Nawaz said his government’s primary focus was on development in Balochistan, adding that Gwadar would be one of the best ports in the world. He said with the completion of Gwadar-Quetta section of M-8 Motorway, it was now possible to travel from one location to another in half the day.
He said today all provinces were being connected with each other through multiple road corridors, cutting down on travel time, with huge savings on fuel and costs. “Pakistan’s communication network is changing as apart from motorways, four-lane highways are being built indifferent areas of the country.”
He said dualisation of 126 km long Jamshoro-Sehwan Sharif road would be done, adding the federal government would fund the project for the people of Sindh.
The prime minister said 10,000 MW of electricity would be added to the national grid this year and would rise to 30,000 MW by the next few years. He said there is zero load-shedding for the industries and soon power outages will be a thing of the past.
The FWO chief, Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal, said the project was the toughest in the FWO’s history as heavy traffic of 30,000 to 40,000 vehicles daily plies on this section during the construction work.
He mentioned the support of Sindh government and the National Highway Authority (NHA) in completion of the M-9 project on build-operate-transfer basis. He said 136-kilometre-long road was the country’s lifeline and hub of economic prosperity due to its proximity with Kemari Port.
Nawaz Sharif travelled on the road and also took an aerial view to inspect the project. The police blocked the movement of traffic when the PM was reviewing the section. This resulted in kilometers-long logjam. [WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP]
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2017.