ISLAMABAD: Inaugurating two new trains from Rawalpindi to Lahore and Rawalpindi to Mianwali, Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced he will visit China in November to discuss Beijing’s progress in all areas, particularly in the railways sector.
“China focused on the uplift of the poorest of its poor and has made astounding progress over the past few decades in the railways sector. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) Main Line-1 project will provide high speed trains between Karachi and Peshawar,” Khan said on Friday.
The premier was addressing the inaugural ceremony of Rawalpindi Express, which will operate between Rawalpindi and Lahore, and Mianwali Railcar, which will operate between Rawalpindi and Mianwali. Earlier, the PM unveiled a plaque to inaugurate the train services.
Khan said China had made tremendous progress in manufacturing high speed trains and expanded rail network over a period of time in the whole country. He said the government was focusing on expanding and upgrading the rail network to ensure provision of cheap and fast traveling facilities to the common man.
“Train services provide travel facilities to the common man and the governments, which give priority to the poor, focus on development of rail system,” he said.
The PM appreciated the Pakistan Railways’ initiative to utilise its unused land and said with proper utilisation the organisation could repay its huge debt.
He directed the Railways to take steps to reclaim its precious lands from the land mafia. However, he said that slums established on Railways land should not be dismantled.
Khan regretted that the governments in the past focused only on the uplift of facilities for the elite while the poor paid for their ostentatious lifestyle through 90% indirect taxation.
“Pakistan is probably the only country where the poor subsidises the rich,” he said, adding that it was a big proof of elitism in the country that railway system was neglected by the previous government.
“Around 1,100km of rail track was established by the British while nothing significant has been added since Pakistan’s independence. The focus in the past had been only on roads even though the rail network can carry freight and passengers at a far lesser cost,” he added.
Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid said the railways plans to run 12 to 15 additional freight trains. He sought the government’s assistance in directing the Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and other state-run organisations to use the train service.
He said 318 acres of land would be acquired in Gwadar for Pakistan Railways while train service would be initiated for border posts at Taftan and Torkham to facilitate passengers and freight services.
PM to visit Karachi on tomorrow
The PM will be on a daylong visit to Karachi on Sunday. It will be his first visit to country’s financial hub since he assumed the Prime Minister Office on August 18.
The PM will pay visit to Mazar-e-Quaid and attend other scheduled events there. Recently, a PTI lawmaker, Aamir Liaqat Hussain, had expressed anger over delay in the PM’s visit to Karachi, saying, “It seems Karachi is not important to the PTI and its chief.”