RAWALPINDI: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced on Sunday that his government is working day and night for peace and would be holding direct talks with the Pakistani Taliban, and the process would kick-start in a day or two.
“The country needs peace to put economy on the right track,” he stressed while addressing a ceremony in connection with the foundation-laying of the Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus project. Nawaz opined terrorism in the country was a result of wrong policies of the past. “Even those countries who were lagging behind Pakistan in development have taken a lead, as we are engulfed in terrorism,” he added. “For the last 10-15 years not a single considerable developmental project was launched in any part of the country,” the prime minister regretted. He noted that the economy has lately shown signs of improvement, and exports are on the rise.
The prime minister said the talks with Taliban were going ahead at a satisfactory pace and hoped that a meeting would be held between the two sides in a day or two. There will be peace, and the country would get rid of extremism and terrorism, he added. Nawaz said terrorism, corruption, unemployment, indiscipline and poverty had now become order of the day. He regretted that the country wasted a great deal of time and nothing much was achieved in any area. He said Pakistan did see short stints of development when his government twice came into power in the ‘90s.
“The nuclear programme and the motorway were some examples of his previous government,” he said. Thereafter the governments of the day, he added, did little to serve the masses. “It was due to the wrong policies of the past that the country is facing the scourge of terrorism,” the prime minister said. He said the country’s economic indicators were positive and he had directed the finance minister to ensure that the rate of US dollar against the rupee remains stable, a little below Rs 100.
He highlighted the initiative his government has undertaken in coming up with new power projects in the country. “The power projects commissioned by us are more than such initiatives taken during the last 65 years,” the premier asserted, adding: “Around 21 thousand megawatts of electricity would be added to the system during the next seven years.” He claimed that his government would end the chronic electricity load shedding during its current tenure (2013-18).
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the new Islamabad airport would be operational next year, and the work on Islamabad-Muzaffarabad railway link would start soon. “Construction work on the Lahore-Karachi motorway project will kick-start soon,” he added. Nawaz said that the Rs 40 billion Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus project would be completed in a record time of 10 months, and similar projects would be launched in south Punjab soon. Earlier, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif laid the foundation stone of the metro bus project in Rawalpindi. The project would be completed in a record period of 9 to 10 months.
Speaking on the occasion Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said metro bus service was an extension of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision of motorways. “Rawalpindi and Islamabad will become twin cities in real terms on completion of the project,” he hoped. He said state-of-the-art transportation facilities would be provided to people of the twin cities through this project. He noted that those who criticised the metro bus project in Lahore now travel through the same bus service with pride.
The Rawalpindi-Islamabad metro bus project, costing over Rs 40 billion rupees, will be similar to that of Lahore metro bus service. The federal and provincial governments would contribute 50 percent each of the total cost, while a Turkish company will be working on the project. The project will benefit over 150,000 commuters travelling between the twin cities of Islamabad-Rawalpindi on a daily basis, official data suggests.
A stretch of 23.4 kilometre track would be laid from Mall Road, Rawalpindi to Faizabad for the metro bus service at an estimated cost of Rs 44.21 billion in which a signal-free interchange would be constructed at Peshawar Morr, costing Rs 4.7 billion. The metro bus project will benefit more than 15 million people, officials said.
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